University Students Use SALT Talks in Class

  • October 7, 2013

PLEASE NOTE: SALT is an acronym for "Seminars About Long Term thinking."

By Christopher Rivers

California State University, East Bay launched a partnership with the Long Now Foundation in fall 02012 to expand students’ capacity to think long-term and explore ways of taking action that have the potential for impact tens, hundreds or even thousands of years into the future.

“The idea of bringing the Long Now ethos into college coursework is about igniting students’ critical and creative thinking skills and reminding them that the future can be what you make of it,” said Stephanie Couch, the project’s principal investigator. “We are grateful to Long Now for their leadership and partnership in making this project happen.”

Supported by a private donor, the three-year project has just completed its first year, reaching 301 students in five courses offered both in-person and hybrid-online from the university’s Communication Department on the Hayward campus. The archived SALT talks provided a valuable resource for students investigating what it means to think long-term, and to consider issues in different time horizons. Students then applied what they learned about the practices of long-term thinkers by interviewing representatives of corporations and other organizations to analyze how they used long-term planning as part of their business practices.

“Teaching students how to analyze the collection of SALT talks enables them to uncover who long-term thinkers are, how they think, and their cultural practices,” said Dr. Lonny Brooks, Assistant Professor of Communication who leads the courses. “In the process, students develop their capacity to ‘read’ the world in many different contexts - a form of critical thinking.”

Cal State East Bay plans to use the SALT talks again this coming year to help students understand and improve their forecasts. It is working to expand the project to other disciplines at the university and to bring the curriculum to K-12 teachers and students. Cal State East Bay welcomes inquiries and ideas about connecting long-term thinking with education. For more information, visit www.longtermandfuturesthinking.org.

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