At the beginning of this week, we asked for feedback on the new Effective Altruism Handbook. We want to emphasize that this new curriculum is intended to be the suggested curriculum for the intro fellowship. This post also provides a quick overview of the sessions, explains how to use the curriculum on the forum, and answers questions we think a number of organizers might have (we plan to update the FAQ section as more feedback comes in).
We think this is a significant improvement to the previous version of the fellowship and encourage groups to use it.
Overview of the Sessions
Here is the updated version.
The program is still organized into 8 thematic sessions with core readings and additional materials (collected under “More to Explore”). We think that the core readings will take most people about 1-2 hours to get through, and the exercise another 30-60 minutes. We have matched the readings and exercises so that, in total, we think it will take around 2-2.5 hours to prepare for each session. This is roughly the same amount of time as in the previous version.
We updated the sessions to focus more on core EA concepts and thinking tools because we think that these are the most important things we want people to leave the introductory program with. We still have a lot of content on specific cause areas, but it is relatively less than before. The sessions are now:
- The Effectiveness Mindset (estimated reading time for core posts: 97 min)
- Differences in Impact (estimated reading time for core posts: 84 min)
- Radical Empathy (estimated reading time for core posts: 113 min)
- Our Final Century? (estimated reading time for core posts: 132 min)
- What Could the Future Hold? And Why Care? (estimated reading time for core posts: 59 min)
- Smarter Than Us (estimated reading time for core posts: 115 min)
- What Do You Think? (estimated reading time for core posts: 98 min)
- Putting it Into Practice (estimated reading time for core posts: 50 min)
We’ve also updated the facilitators’ discussion guide with some new questions and framings for how to ensure the sessions go as well as possible.
Using the Handbook on the Forum
We put the intro fellowship curriculum on the forum as the 4th edition of the EA handbook. We encourage organizers to use the forum because we think it improves the user experience and has the potential to make the flow more intuitive and appealing.
If you would rather use the Google Doc version, because it’s more comfortable for you, you’d like to make edits for your own group, or any other reason, it is available here.
I’ve been using the old curriculum and I’m happy with it. Do you think I should use the new one instead?
Our primary goal with this version of the handbook was to share certain core principles or tools of EA (things like “making tradeoffs”, “truth seeking”, “scope sensitivity”). These concepts are now highlighted in the curriculum. We think that this is really valuable and is accomplished better with the new curriculum than the older version. Also, there have been lots of excellent things written about EA and EA cause areas in the last couple of years and we think it’s valuable to introduce people to some of these pieces as soon as possible. For these reasons, we suggest that you update the current curriculum that you have been using.
How confident are you that this is the right intro curriculum for all groups?
We are excited about the new version of the EA Handbook and think it improves on the previous one in many ways. Still, it’s clear that this is not the perfect version and we intend to continue to make improvements.
In general, we think that anchoring to this version is a good starting point given that it covers a lot of ground and highlights the key principles of EA that we think are especially important for new people to engage with. From that point, deciding to make some changes to fit your context could make sense, but we’d suggest doing it deliberately.
How should my fellowship do the exercises using the forum version?
There are a few options for how this could work and we think that facilitators should use their judgement about what makes the most sense for their group. For example, you could have participants:
- read the exercise description on the forum and write up their responses in a private document;
- make a copy of the exercise and share their responses with the other people in the cohort;
- respond directly to the prompts in the comments on the forum. This might allow for an active conversation, but it has the drawback of being public and accessing your cohorts’ responses might be a little harder.
Can I give feedback on this new curriculum?
Yes please! We are keen to continue to improve this handbook. We’ve set up this form to receive feedback and comments.
Please also feel free to ask questions about this new curriculum and plan in the comments here, on slack, or through whatever channel is easiest for you!