Education for Global UnderstandingMay 11, 2010
Much has been written about the ever-increasing phenomenon of “globalization.” The word is almost met with derision these days in some circles, as we both blame and praise it for the worlds’ ills and successes. Climate change: Curse globalization! Technology transfer: Globalization is awesome! Trafficking in women and girls: Look what globalization has wrought!
But the reality is that we know it isn’t quite that simple. Globalization is a complex and increasingly multifaceted issue. AAUW, in conjunction with the United Nations Association–USA’s Council of Organizations and the U.S. Association for the University for Peace, recently hosted a panel discussion entitled Educating for a New Paradigm in World Affairs. The forum focused on the challenges of an increasingly interconnected world, where conflicts within (and between) countries, climate change, natural disasters, and other global concerns are becoming more prominent in the U.S. media. The panel also discussed the role of the education sector in preparing students at all levels to become knowledgeable about global affairs, the role of women, and ethics and morality. Speakers were Antonia Cortese, secretary-treasurer of the American Federation of Teachers, Linda Hallman, executive director of AAUW, and former ambassador John J. Maresca, rector, from the University for Peace.
Maresca noted that, despite big, looming problems with no answers and so many different cultures, we can be at peace. He shared the role of the University for Peace in promoting peace and conflict studies and their mandate to “educate humanity.” Cortese highlighted the importance of K–12 civic education, which receives less instruction time than other subjects due to our test-based math and language arts focus in schools. She also stressed the need to “remember the ongoing issues of equity and access.” Hallman spoke of AAUW’s long history in philanthropy and world affairs and their role in “championing the rights of women to have equal access to education.” Unfortunately, as Hallman said, access to education has not translated into equal pay and professional opportunities for women — especially in science and engineering professions. She also noted that “globalization has produced new forms of inequity and exploitation of women,” such as trafficking and low-wage, dead-end jobs.
The panelists discussed the role of the United Nations and other specialized agencies and their often uneven results around the world. Participants from a variety of international and local organizations shared ways that they are addressing the challenges of globalization in the education sector in their own organizations, as well as the need to increase everyone’s knowledge about global issues. We all have a stake in solving the world’s (our) problems.