EA Course Syllabus: David Manley's "Changing the World"

post by Aaron Gertler (aarongertler) · 2021-01-06T04:40:23.641Z · EA · GW · 3 comments

This is a link post for https://davidmanley.squarespace.com/teaching

Contents

  Course Description
      Phil 250: Changing the World
  Syllabus
      1. The Question of the Course
      2. Global Inequality & Marginal Utility
      3. Motives for Altruism
    How to be less wrong about the world
      4. Mindset
      5. What Most Lives are Like
      6. Fear & Media Bias
      7. Roots of Apathy 1: Historical Pessimism
      8. Roots of Apathy 2: Typical Effectiveness
      9. Roots of Apathy 3: Scope Insensitivity
      10. Roots of Apathy 4: Neglecting the Future
    Some important global problems
      11. Measuring Badness
      12. Communicable Disease
      13. Gender Disparities in Global Poverty
      14. Air Pollution
      15. Factory Farming
      16. Micronutrient Deficiency
      17. Limits to Free Movement
      18. Existential Risk
      19. Aging
    How can we do the most good?
      20. Measuring Effectiveness
      21. Poverty Traps and Health
      22. Consumer Choices, Collective Action
      23. Careers, Part 1
      24: Careers, Part 2
None
3 comments

I'm crossposting this as an example of someone teaching EA concepts in an academic setting, so that I can tag it for later reference. I don't know when this was last taught, so it may not be up-to-date.


Course Description

Phil 250: Changing the World

We tend to lead with our hearts when trying to do good. This means we focus on causes that are familiar and local, and we don’t think very hard about which causes matter the most, or try very hard to measure how much of a difference we are actually making.

In this course, we will consider the most pressing global problems, thinking rigorously about how to compare their moral significance as well as their tractability. And we will evaluate how we can best use our own comparative advantage to make greatest possible difference.

We will focus on four areas of concern: (i) global health and poverty, (ii) animal welfare, (iii) environmental preservation, and (iv) the long-term survival of human civilization. Our conceptual tools will be drawn from a variety of disciplines. We will use moral philosophy to help us think about which issues we should care about most; and we will evaluate the efficacy of interventions by drawing from economics, sociology, environmental science, and development studies.

The overarching ethical question will be: what are the most important global causes? This raises many more specific ethical questions, like:

The overarching practical question will be: what are the most effective things we can do? This also breaks down into many questions, such as:

Syllabus

1. The Question of the Course

2. Global Inequality & Marginal Utility

3. Motives for Altruism

I. How to be less wrong about the world

4. Mindset

5. What Most Lives are Like

6. Fear & Media Bias

7. Roots of Apathy 1: Historical Pessimism

8. Roots of Apathy 2: Typical Effectiveness

9. Roots of Apathy 3: Scope Insensitivity

10. Roots of Apathy 4: Neglecting the Future

II. Some important global problems

11. Measuring Badness

12. Communicable Disease

13. Gender Disparities in Global Poverty

14. Air Pollution

15. Factory Farming

16. Micronutrient Deficiency

17. Limits to Free Movement

18. Existential Risk

19. Aging

III. How can we do the most good?

20. Measuring Effectiveness

21. Poverty Traps and Health

22. Consumer Choices, Collective Action

23. Careers, Part 1

24: Careers, Part 2

3 comments

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comment by meerpirat · 2021-01-14T11:15:32.551Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Note to other moderators: I've moved this to "Personal Blog" so it won't clutter the frontpage, and I'll do the same with other "posting for later reference" posts.

FWIW I'm glad I saw it and don’t consider seeing a "new" EA syllabus as cluttering.

comment by Aaron Gertler (aarongertler) · 2021-01-14T22:49:59.535Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for the note.

I recently decided to change how I handle this; I've created the account "EA Forum Archives" and will publish archival posts from there. They'll still show up in Recent Discussion, but people will get used to seeing them and be able to skim past them as they see fit.

comment by meerpirat · 2021-01-14T23:12:31.647Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Sounds good, and if those Archive posts might be novel and useful for enough readers you could consider also adding them to the Frontpage.

Besides, maybe at some point one could also consider enabling users to "unfollow" individual accounts so those don’t even show up in Recent Discussion if one isn't interested.