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Ripon College’s five-course Catalyst curriculum rigorously develops the 21st-century skills that employers seek while streamlining the path to graduation. Catalyst ensures students are able to complete multiple majors and minors, study abroad and hold internships in four years. Students enjoy extensive freedom to pursue their passions and craft their own academic program of study.
Catalyst consists of five seminars, two in the first year, two in the sophomore year, and the applied innovation seminar in the junior year. The first four seminars are designed to develop the essential skills students need to work collaboratively and independently in the junior seminar, in which they will work in teams mentored by faculty members as they develop and present proposed solutions to large, open-ended questions. The seminars also provide grounding in some basic college-level academic skills and expose students to a range of disciplinary approaches. Graduates who complete the Catalyst curriculum earn a Concentration in Applied Innovation, which documents on the transcript that a graduate has mastered the skills of oral communication, writing, critical thinking, collaboration, quantitative reasoning, information literacy, integration and intercultural competence.
Despite many advances to eliminate poverty globally, over 10% of the world survives on less than $1.90 per day. In the United States, approximately 1 in 8 people live at or below poverty line (U.S. Census Bureau, 2018). Inequalities rooted in gender, sexual orientation, nationality, race, ethnicity, and class lead to disproportionate exposure to risks, lack of control over resources, and limited access to decision making. On the country level, poor countries may lack representation in international decision-making despite being more vulnerable to threats such as climate change. Social, environmental, and economic consequences of poverty and inequality affect all of us. This case focuses on reduction in poverty and inequalities within and between countries to support thriving communities worldwide.
In many countries, women, people of color, LGBTQ+, religious minorities, low-income, indigenous people, and people with disabilities lack access to and power over resources while facing disproportionate risks. They are more likely to be victims of violence and prosecution, face environmental risks and social exclusion, lack access to healthcare and education, not receive equal pay, and have a limited ability to participate in decision making. The goal of this challenge is to address root causes and consequences of inequality in communities worldwide.
Water, an essential component of human survival, covers almost 70% of the Earth’s surface, yet only 1% of water is available for human uses. Globally, 30% of people cannot access safe drinking water and over 1,000 children die due to water-borne diseases or poor sanitation each day. The majority of water is used in power generation, industry, and agriculture, often leading to depletion of aquifers. Industrial and agricultural activity may pollute water bodies, further threatening human and ecosystem health. Water availability will be further affected by climate change as shifting precipitation patterns will lead to more frequent and longer droughts in some regions. This case therefore aims to prevent further degradation of freshwater resources as well as to promote access to clean water as a universal human right.
Industrial and agricultural wastes threaten the integrity of our water resources. Fertilizers, persistent organic pollutants, pharmaceuticals, plastics, and other pollutants found in bodies of water affect both human and ecosystem health. Aging infrastructure responsible for heavy metal pollution in American cities is particularly threatening to the health and wellbeing of children. The goal of this challenge is to address the causes and consequences of water pollution worldwide.
Last century celebrated numerous medical advances and public health measures that extended life expectancy across the globe. However, health risks are unequally distributed between and within countries. Women and children are particularly vulnerable as women around the world lack access to contraceptives, prenatal and antenatal care and 5 million children under the age of five die annually. Other issues including communicable diseases (e.g. HIV/AIDS, malaria), “lifestyle” diseases (e.g. cardiovascular illness, diabetes), environmental illnesses (e.g. respiratory, diarrheal illnesses), cancer, and mental health issues disproportionately affect low-income, marginalized communities worldwide. In many countries, populations will require more resources as they age. Those in need are often not able to access care either due to lack of facilities or cost. The goal of this case is to promote health and wellbeing for current and future generations worldwide.
Approximately 15% of global population is affected by mental health issues including anxiety and depression, substance abuse, and suicide (Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, 2017). Mental health issues are often stigmatized and result in social exclusion and disproportionate exposure to other risks. Mental health care heavily relies on expensive medications and therapy while innovative treatments are limited. In the United States, dissolution of mental health care systems parallels the rise in homelessness and incarceration rates. This challenge therefore addresses the causes and consequences of mental health issues while promoting greater well-being for all.
Advancing anthropogenic climate change may be one of the greatest challenges facing humanity in the 21st century. In October 2019, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report urged world leaders to take action to limit global climate change to 1.5°C to avoid more severe consequences. Developing countries and low-income communities are already being disproportionately affected by the consequences of climate change including sea level rise, increased frequency of extreme weather events, longer and more intense droughts and wildfires, threats to biodiversity, and others. Design and implementation of place-based adaptation and resilience plans is needed for continued human thriving. The goal of this case is to mitigate climate change as well as support communities in adaptation and resilience while facing its consequences.
The most recent IPCC report calls to address causes of anthropogenic climate change within the next three decades. United States, Canada, and the European Union as well as rapidly developing countries with high populations such as India and China produce the majority of greenhouse gas emissions while 13% of world’s population does not have a reliable access to power. New, innovative ways of lowering emissions, withdrawal of carbon from the atmosphere, and renewable energy production will be necessary. This challenge therefore calls for strategies to address climate change in the context of global energy resources.
Food is essential to human survival: it fuels our bodies and provides livelihoods. Our lands and oceans produce enough food – yet a third is wasted every year. Over 11% of people in the world are hungry and 3.1 million children die as a result of malnutrition annually. In the United States, one in eight people do not know where their next meal might come from (Feeding America, 2018). The future of our food supply will be further challenged by climate change, environmental degradation, and worldwide poverty and inequality. The goal of this case is to ensure continued support for agriculture and fishing so that current and future generations are able to produce and have access to safe, healthy, high quality, and culturally appropriate food.
Despite producing enough food to feed the world, global population faces hunger and food insecurity. Lack of good foods has negative outcomes on individual and community health. Some regions report high rates of malnutrition associated with health issues and death. In other regions, chronic food-related illnesses lower overall quality of life and further reproduce social inequalities. This challenge addresses availability of, access to, and control over stable, safe, healthy, high quality, and desirable food year long.