As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I am taking Professor Peter Singer's "Practical Ethics" course via Coursera, and am enjoying it immensely. This week, I got a special acknowledgement by Professor Singer on the course page which I am pretty excited about. What happened?
Last week's theme was the "Giving Game". An anonymous donor had giving the Coursera group $10,000 to divide up among four charities - Population Services International, Cool Earth, Give Directly, and the Wikimedia Foundation - in the manner we mutually decided was best. The point of the week's classes and assignments was to understand the best way to divide the money. Since all four are top-notch charities in their areas, this is a tough decision to make. The "Giving Game" doesn't end for another week, so I can't tell you who wins.
So what was my role in this? Well, as soon as I saw the week's theme, it came to mind that donating someone else's money wasn't perfectly in line with the theme of the course. So I started a message thread where I pledged to donate an (admittedly modest) sum to whichever charity(s) won the "Giving Game". The feedback from other students has been substantial and my little pot multiplied many-fold. The class may well surpass the very generous sum provided by the anonymous donor!
In any case, it feels pretty good to have started something that turned out so well, and to be recognized by a pretty famous intellectual. I hope my little string of fortune inspires my friends and readers to check out the four charities above. They really are best-in-class. If you have $10 or $100 or more to spare, please consider giving what you can.