Here's my response to the Challenge to begin creating an ARG:
Ending Poverty in the River Cities: Epistemic Questing in Social & Political Philosophy (PHI 242) – Draft 1
Background. PHI 242, a frosh-soph course in the UW Colleges (13 U of Wisconsin two-year liberal arts campuses), has no prerequisites, but students do need to be competent readers and writers. The catalog description allows for a variety of approaches and simply states: “Studies of differing philosophical views about humankind and its political and social life.” The population of the counties that my campus draws from are among the poorest and least educated in the state.
Guiding questions: What is the poverty rate in River Cities and how and why has it changed over time? How does poverty affect the children, the schools, natural environment, health system, and local government (this list will surely grow) in River Cities? What institutions and programs are making efforts to decrease poverty? How are they funded? How are they utilized? By whom? What are the successes? How is success measured? What do our elected office holders and representatives (local, state, federal) know about the poverty rate, its causes, and its effects on the community? What are their attitudes toward poverty? How are they trying to help? How can we help?
Narrative. It turns out that River Cities is located on the edge (if we can call it that) of the Seventh Dimension. A dimensional rift has occurred due to the misery caused by the high levels of poverty in the River Cities. The beings who dwell in the Seventh Dimension are experiencing increased “psychological storms” (for lack of a better human term) due to this misery. SD engineers and physicists have not been successful in patching the rift. So the SD High Council, though loath to intervene, have decided that the misery itself must be the cause and must be tackled. As a last resort, SDHC has contacted the not-so-reputable (in the Archons’ point of view) Justice League to intervene.
The Justice League has sent a team, the J-Team [students can come up with their own name(s)], to River Cities to investigate the problem and submit a recommendation for a solution. You are members of the J-Team. Each of you has taken on a human form and an identity that will help you easily blend into the community, even as new comers to the area. Additionally, each of you has been chosen to serve on this team because you each have a unique special power that can help the team during its investigation. You will regularly be receiving assignments from the JL-Head [me] and submitting reports and making suggestions for follow-ups to her.
1. Door. As a class, see the first episode of Third Rock from the Sun (or something like that) and discuss the concept of ETs blending into a community. Questions: xyz.
2. Design your character (provide worksheet), including a name (your SD one and your Earth one) and your proposed special power (special powers will be negotiated within the team). Then work with the team to flesh out, so to speak, your character. You’ll need to have a strong sense of who your character is since you’ll be playing it for a while.
3. Receive first assignment: As a team, go in search of Dr. Dismal to find out about the demographics of River Cities. You may find him in the Field House, but your best bet is to find his office phone number and set up an appointment. [Keith, our cultural geographer, has agreed to serve as Dr. Dismal.]
That’s as far as I’ve gotten.