This proposal has been replaced by a less ambitious one to first engage CERN with Big History. After that the project can grow organically. Details here.
This is a proposal for a project to engage staff at CERN and at the UN in Geneva and students from the University of Geneva with Big History.
Please make any comments you may have in forum
History of this Proposal
21-7-16 Proposal created and sent for comments to members of IBHA Board
22-7-16 Proposal updated following feedback. Investigation begun on MOOC Big History Connecting Knowledge (see below)
This is a proposal for engaging professional staff in Geneva with Big History. The plan is to run a pilot project over the next four years which would:
- Develop a 1 hour presentation on Big History aimed at professional staff within the United Nations (and elsewhere) as part of their personal and professional development. For details of the presentation see “Year 1” below.
- Recruit scientists (and others) from CERN (and elsewhere) to train students from the University of Geneva (and elsewhere) to deliver this presentation to staff from the UN, NGOs and diplomats.
- Broaden IBHA’s horizons so that, instead of focussing only on teaching Big History in schools and universities, we also develop and offer a short professional development presentation, backed up with online resources for those interested to explore further in their own time.
- Explore holding the 2020 IBHA conference in Geneva and use it to launch the programme and Big History to a wider audience.
At the IBHA Conference 2016, a Big History European Network was formed and a website created at BigHistory.eu
This opens the possibility of exploring a unique resource situated in Europe which offers methods for widening knowledge of and participation in Big History to a significant international audience. That resource is the city and state of Geneva.
Geneva contains the following relevant institutions, among others:
- CERN, the world’s leading particle research centre where thousands of the world’s leading particle physicist work
- The largest United Nations Offices in the world
- Many foreign embassies
- Many NGOs
- The University of Geneva.
Big History talks about the creation of the universe. Surely it would be good to engage scientists who are doing research into what happened a short time afterwards!
Big History Institute
The Big History Institute at Macquaire University has created a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) called “Big History Connecting Knowledge” which could be a tool to help us to train the students.
Andrew McKenna, Executive Director of Big History Institute wrote:
David [Christian] has passed on your proposal to me and I wanted to let you know that Macquarie University is already well advanced in implementing a program that advances the majority of your objectives as listed in the proposal.
We have already launched a MOOC on Coursera – Big History Connecting Knowledge – to teach students outside of the normal educational framework. We are in the process of finalising and launching an additional number of courses for our Big History Solving Complex Problems Specialization – with courses consisting of Analysing Complexity, Evaluating Problems, and Creating Innovation. We have invested over half a million dollars in this effort, and the courses are due to launch in Sept/Oct. We also have a plan to reach out to incorporate case study lectures from a range of external experts in addition to the 100 or so academics across all disciplines who will feature in our MOOCs, and a number of the organisations in Geneva you mention are on our list for that effort. I have already met with a number of UN contacts and organisations. We are also committing resources to a translation of these MOOCs in a number of global languages…
In the meantime, please do look at https://www.coursera.org/learn/big-history – we have strong enrolment from learners in countries across Europe including Switzerland, and over 100 countries worldwide.
PB will investigate and update this proposal.
Develop a 1 hour presentation of Big History for use within business/organisations seeking staff development.
Make CERN scientists and staff, UN and NGO staff and diplomats and business executives aware of Big History.
Teach students about Big History outside the normal educational framework.
Enable students to meet and teach UN staff and diplomats.
Develop online resources where interested delegates can find more information.
Explore the possibility of running IBHA 2020 Conference in Geneva and launch the programme.
- Devise a 1 hour presentation on Big History for use in staff Professional Development in any organisation where staff need a wider perspective. The benefit to the organisation would be the assurance that their staff have an understanding of a broad range of scientific ideas, and a global perspective on where we are and where we might be going. The presentation would be Powerpoint slides. The talk would perhaps last half an hour, with the other half hour for questions.
- Develop a website to support delegates who want to explore further by asking questions which the students cannot answer, but which CERN staff or others can.
- Trial and refine the presentation before professional staff in business and some friendly UN and CERN staff. Perhaps Microsoft staff might be willing to comment, following their earlier support of IBHA.
- Make contact with the key players and explore their wants and needs.
- Explore how to engage CERN with Big History as part of their outreach programme. This might be achieved by starting a Big History society in CERN, articles in the CERN Courier etc.
- Approach the Director-General of CERN and try to get her support for this project. I would first send her an email and try to get appointments to visit her. Talking to the Pubic Relations Manager would also be very useful. The aim would be to obtain some buy-in from them. The sales pitch is that it gives staff a wider picture of their own work and enhances the already large CERN outreach work. In addition, we would be offering to recruit students who would work with their scientists, and they already have a significant educational programme into which this might fit.
- Identify CERN scientists and perhaps others at the University of Geneva and elsewhere, who want to train the students to deliver this presentation as well as giving them a deeper background in Big History so they can field questions. We could appeal for interested people through the outreach office, through articles in the CERN Courier, through staff newsletters and other similar channels.
- Train these trainers.
- Use the links which CERN already has with the UN to plan how we will offer these presentations as part of UN staff development.
- Contact some of the many NGOs in Geneva and offer them the same thing.
- Explore how we can use the links which the UN in Geneva and others have with the diplomatic community to offer the presentation to embassies from the many countries which have a presence in this, the world’s “capital of diplomacy”.
- Recruit students for the following year.
- Run a pilot project and act upon the lessons learnt.
- Plan how the programme can be made sustainable.
As a result of the contacts made over the past 3 years, persuade CERN or the University of Geneva to host the IBHA Conference in 2020 and launch the programme.
He is the author of this proposal. He has been studying the history of the universe since 1975 and writing books and websites about it since 1992. His current project is Time Crystal which tells the story of a work of fiction and is set in Geneva. He therefore has made periodic visits to CERN, the UN and the city and environs of Geneva since 2004. He is reasonably fluent in French, has basic German and has studied four other languages. He has friends and contacts in CERN and has worked with staff and ex-staff from the UN.
He is happy to help manage the project.
Project Management Team
It is recommended that a group from Big History European Network be established who can help plan this project. Ideally there will be somebody from IBHA board to bring an IBHA perspective and ensuring that it fits in with IBHA philosophy.
Since Philip Brown is located in the UK and is already very busy, it will probably be necessary to recruit a part-time local person in Geneva who can meet with the key players.
It is difficult to cost this project, but a ballpark figure of $10k might be somewhere around the mark.
Philip Brown is prepared to invest $5k if IBHA (or others) can raise match funding.
References and Resources
UN in Geneva: http://www.unog.ch/
University of Geneva: http://www.unige.ch/international/en/
Museum of Natural History in Geneva: https://www.ville-ge.ch/mhng/
Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations: http://genevadiplomacy.ch/
College du Leman: http://www.nordangliaeducation.com/en/our-schools/switzerland/cdl
Past Global Changes, Bern: http://www.futureearth.org/projects/pages-past-global-changes
Big History Connecting Knowledge MOOC: https://www.coursera.org/learn/big-history
If you wish to comment on this proposal, please do so in the relevant forum