Challenge Week

Challenge Week 2018 image

Challenge Week is an annual event hosted by UCA’s Norbert O. Schedler Honors College that brings to campus a wide range of regional, national, and international thinkers to discuss a specific issue or problem that impacts our society. Speakers present compelling information and arguments, challenging us to see that issue or problem from a new perspective and take action to move towards thoughtful change. The theme for Challenge Week 2018 is Breaking the Chains: A Critical Examination of the Global Supply Chain, which will run from October 19th through October 27th. We are interested in starting a conversation about the human and environmental implications of our global economy. What is the relationship between the consumer goods we interact with on a daily basis—such as the coffee in our mugs or the iPhone in our pockets—and the well-being of people and places around the world? Almost everything we possess and consume comes to us through supply chains, a globally dispersed network of producers (those who grow or extract raw materials); processors (those who take those raw materials and turn them into useable products); retailers (those who sell the final product); and the public-private actors and agreements that control, oversee, and connect these basic links (transnational corporate managers, transportation logistics engineers, trade treaties between countries). Look down at the clothes you are wearing and consider the device you are reading this webpage on. Each piece of clothing and each component of your smartphone or laptop has its own supply chain and, therefore, its own story. Now think about everything you own and everything you eat. You are surrounded by thousands of stories. Your reach is global. The challenge of Challenge Week is to ask ourselves what do we actually know about these stories? Should we want to know more? Why might these stories matter to us and other people we will never meet? How can we become informed and can we create new stories by shaping the way global supply chains work?

The faculty and staff of the Honors College would like to start this conversation, with you, right now, in partnership with the Department of Geography. There is no reason to wait until late October to start exploring, and understanding, the global supply chains that support our way of life. Click here to read about the chain of places and people that produce lithium-ion batteries and Starbucks coffee, and why you might want to start thinking like a geographer.

Speaker and Event Preview

Our keynote speaker is Dr. Kevin Bales, Professor of Contemporary Slavery at the University of Nottingham, UK. He will address many of our Challenge Week questions on Wednesday, October 25th, at 7:00 p.m. in Idra Waldron Auditorium. Dr. Bales is the author of numerous books including Blood and Earth: Modern Slavery, Ecocide, and the Secret to Saving the World, and has traveled the world following the global supply chains that bind us together. He will open our eyes to how many points in the chain rely on contemporary forms of slavery, which not only harms individual lives but the environment as well. Click here to learn more about Dr. Bales and his work.