Globalization

ESD: Expandng Sustainable Education Through International Understanding

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“I learned that even though other cultures live totally different lives, many things are still the same and we do them alike.” – Student Participant

Students Exchange Pen-pal letters with students in Korea. Project Photo.
Students Exchange Pen-pal letters with students in Korea. Project Photo.

How do students learn about other cultures from studying sustainability? In a project like ESD: Sustainable Education Through International Understanding based in Orem, Utah, these things go together quite naturally. In our first update from this project we learned about how an international collaboration with Japanese students focusing on global issues and sustainability. They also worked within their local community through service projects to highlight local issues. Since we last heard from this team, they have busy growing their sustainability focused academic enrichment project to involve more learners, more educators and more conversations.

Exploring Human Equity Through Sustainable Development Education

http://wbvsmallingerland.nl/ CC by SA 2.0
http://wbvsmallingerland.nl/ CC by SA 2.0

During this second year of funding for the project, the goals expanded. The team wanted to stimulate and facilitate responsible sustainability awareness and interaction at the individual, community and global scales, so they planned to:

  • Develop teacher collaboration;
  • Build a Sustainability Retreat;
  • Expand the Sustainability Fair;
  • Conduct cross-curricular collaboration/training
    and
  • Expose students to international discussions.

International Teacher Collaboration Fosters Partnerships and Training Opportunities

Educators from The World Studies team at Lakeridge Junior High School collaborated with teachers from Utah and Scandinavia on sustainable development education to establish partnerships and teacher training. This included hands on sustainability training in Hammarby Sjostad, Stockholm Sweden and at the European Union Offices for Environmental Education. In addition they visited schools and met with teachers where we were able to set up exchange projects between their students. This collaboration directly impacted student learning by giving students hands on and direct contact with students in Finland about sustainability.

Examples of Projects created by Merinda Davis http://www.davisworldstudies.com/
Examples of Projects created by Merinda Davis http://www.davisworldstudies.com/

Through the grant team members were also able to arrange an international exchange with students in Finland and pay for penpal letters to be sent to Finland, Japan and Pakistan. Students were also able to Skype with students in Japan and South Korea to discuss global issues and learn some of the language. They were also able to continue to work with Japan Societys Going Global project (from the first year of this project) to talk about current events with kids in Pakistan, Japan and Finland. These collaborations also inspired an end of the year international food tasting so that students could experience new foods.

Project Team members were able to present and train teachers at several conferences during the course of the year including Utah Council for Social Studies/Utah Geography Alliance Conference, Utah Environmental Education Conference, Utah Coalition for Educational Technology Conference, and Merinda Davis was a panel speaker for Finnish Educator/Author Pasi Sahlsberg when he spoke at BYU. Utah Education Network has also asked the team to submit lesson plans for these projects to share with teachers throughout the state.

Sustainability Retreat Prepares Students for Global Conversations

Using from the McCarthey Dressman Education Foundation Lakeridge educators were able to sustain the‐day, 2night Sustainability Retreat. At the retreat this year they offered special schedule of University Professors and community specialists who came to speak to the students in a TEDTalk format.

Students who participated in the previous year of the project helped to serve as councilors and helped prepare the current students to be chairmen for the school wide Model United Nations Conference. During this time they were given the opportunity to learn about sustainable development topics and how they influence the local and global communities.

To share their learning, students who attended completed reflection videos from their experience. Through access to technology students completed sustainability based research, communicated with international partners on global issues and produced dynamic media in partnership with Adobe who donated software for all of the computers labs in the school.

Project Sign Up http://www.davisworldstudies.com/
Project Sign Up http://www.davisworldstudies.com/

Student Documentaries Evolve for Sustainability Fair

Using the model they created the previous year, the team made some changes to the ‘Sustainability Fairso that they could include more students. As the 9th grade students worked on their sustainability documentaries they created posters, trailers and PSA’s to advertise their documentaries. Each poster had a QR Code linked to their trailer or PSA and were posted throughout the school for ParentTeacher Conference and for the rest of the year.

Another way they evolved the project was that they set up a school Student Film Festival, where each day student media was exhibited and students voted on the best documentary. The winners of the best documentary for each day received prizes being donated by local businesses as well as purchased through the McCarthey Dressman Education Foundation grant. In addition, students created projects for the Fairchild Challenge, a sustainability based competition for Utah. Through these partnerships, the team was able work together to expand student participation in sustainability fair.

Model United Nations and Model European Union Conferences expand Student Perspective on Migration

Modern European Union Project http://www.davisworldstudies.com/
Modern European Union Project http://www.davisworldstudies.com/

In addition to the Model United Nations (MUN) Sustainability Conference that they offered on the topics of Water, Urban Planning, Energy and Agriculture in December 2014, in May 2015 they scheduled a Model European Union (MEU) Conference to discuss the topic of Migration. About 400 students participated in both conferences.

For MUN they assumed roles of diplomats from over forty different countries in ten different committees. Students studied their respective countries and their policies on the assigned topics, two topics per committee. They produced documents that outlined their countries’ policies and applied this knowledge, using parliamentary procedure, in debating, compromising and writing resolutions with fellow participants. For MEU they assumed roles of country leaders in the European Council. Much like MUN, they studied their countries and the impact of migration on both their country and the European Union using the most recent information available. Because this is a timely issue and they have contacts in Europe, students were able to learn about the perspective of European students.

Achievements Extend Beyond Curriculum

Students, in conjunction with watching the movie “Gandhi,” completed ‘Roman Kent Peace Projects’ for which the purpose was to help them understand how their actions make a difference. Students came up with a wide variety of ideas – as unique as the students themselves. All of the projects throughout the year had a cumulative effect in increasing awareness and student discussion.

One student decided to write kind notes on index cards and hide them in books in the library for people to find. Another sent 25 text messages to friends and family telling them how important they are, and said after, “I learned that everyone needs a little love no matter who they are, and the community as a whole should express more kindness and peace towards their peers.” 

Another student taught a lesson on tolerance and avoiding discrimination to elementary school kids, because “I wanted to leave an impact on people younger than me. My generation and the generations following mine are responsible for the future moral values of society, so I thought it would be important to reinforce ideas about tolerance and peace to kids at a young age.” 

Reflecting on their international and sustainability experiences students said:

“I learned that it is important to experience other cultures and talk with other people about their lives. I also learned that it is somewhat difficult but important to communicate with people from other countries.”

“I learned that even though other cultures live totally different lives, many things are still the same and we do them alike.”

“I learned that we have a great future map of Utah’s water which makes me happy. I did learn that we don’t have enough water if we just keep wasting, if we take little steps right now and start to conserve like shut off water then you are good and our future doesn’t need to be worried about.”

“I learned that I’m better at stepping outside my comfort zone than I thought, with talking to new people and things.”

“I learned that I can be a good leader and help people know what they can do to be helpful.”

“I learned that I have great editing skills. And I can also lead a group that doesn’t really work to get things done with. I didn’t wait until the last minute but I did at the same time. Next time I just need to take it and do little by little.”

“We learned that what we do personally can make a difference. But we can make a difference as a community to be more sustainable.”

“I liked how we were able to find out about a problem pertaining to sustainability in our community, Utah, USA, or even bigger, the world. It helps people to realize how many problems there are that may go unnoticed to many people.”

The program has also affected the learning of educators. Davis stated,

“The McCarthey Dressman Education Foundation Academic Enrichment grant has allowed for learning opportunities that I never expected. This grant has not only been transformative for my students, but for my school community and me. My curriculum is being revitalized in a way to engage and enrich students’ lives. It has given students opportunities that they would not have had otherwise. In addition to presenting to teachers throughout the state, I was able to present these projects to the Utah House of Representatives Education Committee and to the Governor during the Governor’s Education Committee meeting. As a direct result of these projects I was selected as a 2015 National Geographic Grosvenor Teacher Fellow and a 2015 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator where I will be able to bring back more engaging projects for my students to enrich their learning. Additionally, in January 2015 I was one of twenty­‐four international educators selected to attend the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz in Poland. Because of that experience and collaboration with international educators I was able to expand the sustainability projects to include social equality.”

What could other educators learn from this project?

The end of year project report from the team offered a few reflections for project improvement. Although the documentary project worked better this year with the adjustments that they made, next year they will continue to improve by making adjustments based on student feedback. The biggest challenge they faced this year was timing because of the new projects they implemented took extra time.

Team members plan to adjust the curriculum pacing to help build a stronger foundation for students to build on using these projects. They were able to develop projects with schools in Finland and will continue that, in addition students will have more exchange time in the following year. Although students had more time this year to work on sustainability projects, next year they will submit projects to the Fairchild Challenge and Davis will work with the district to help other schools get involved in this sustainability fair.

Next year as part of the curriculum redevelopment they are going to include more of the human rights as part of sustainability. As the three ‘E’s’ of sustainability are: environment, economics, and equity, next year will be a culmination of what they have learned these last two years.

All in all, at the end of the second year, more than 100 students were able to participate in a sustainability retreat with experts and professors.

More than a thousand students were exposed to sustainable development concepts, International exchanges and international culture/food.

As Davis explains, the funding was leveraged to meet many needs and sustain further academic enrichment in this area, “This McCarthey Dressman Education Foundation Grant allowed us to support pen-pal exchanges, subs so we could get the resources, international teacher collaboration, and funding field trips to local restaurants with guest speakers. We now have a class set of computers, a multimedia lab so students have access to filmmaking equipment, filming studio, and training. These students have been able to exhibit their work and be recognized for their learning. We have been able to share these academic enrichment projects with teachers around Utah as well as internationally.”

Learn more

Microfinance In Action: Students Impact Global Economies

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“Embracing Global Change One Loan at a Time”

Microfinance in Action Revisited

It’s been an exciting, tumultuous, but ultimately productive three years for the educators and students at Southwind High School in Tennesee.  Those involved with the Microfinance in Action (MFiA) project have seen a lot of success despite some setbacks along the way.  But the outpouring of support from the community and other educators has helped keep the flow uninterrupted.

What is Microfinance in Action (MFiA)?

KIVA Club performing community service
KIVA Club performing community service, Project Photo.

When MFiA was originally proposed, it was proposed as a three-year project that would take students through the process of learning about microfinancing, and how important it can be to stimulate the economy.  Especially in resource and job depressed areas in this country and abroad.  They were also tasked with learning about and distributing KIVA loans to small businesses.  It also proposed that students travel to low-income areas, or areas affected by natural disasters to get a real look at what poverty looks like and hopefully become passionate about ending it. In our blog we explored what an integrated curriculum exploring globalization and economics looked like and heard about the real world skills and field experiences (Microfinance in Action, August 2013). Results were inspiring.

Exploring Local Economics through Field Experiences

One of their main goals was to leave the textbook behind and create an environment of practical learning, where students would interact with their community, and communities beyond theirs to get a greater perspective on what economics and Microfinance in particular means in their day-to-day lives.  So they started a journey to some of the most economically devastated states in the nation.  Beginning with their own.

MFiA Textbook
MFiA Textbook, Biba Kavass

Making a Global Impact

They began this journey along the banks of the Mississippi in Memphis and worked their way down through the Delta to New Orleans.  From there they moved to the home of the Lakota Tribes and finally to the sugar cane fields of the Dominican Republic.  No one could accuse them of being lazy travelers, that’s for sure.  And while I could spoil you with the details of their trip, that would ultimately take away from what was the end game goal for this project; creating a book entitled Microfinance in Action: A Guidebook for Teenagers.  They just recently returned from Guatemala where they finished filming the documentary portion of their proposal, which should be edited later this summer.  That documentary, along with the book they plan on publishing, will be a great resource for educators who might want to try this model at their own schools.

Kiva Club Travel
Travel 2013, Project Photo.

Other goals they had proposed were setting up a KIVA Club loan program where students could work with accredited loan companies to set up microfinance loans for those in need at home and abroad. This ended up being far more successful than they had anticipated but came with an unfortunate cost.  Biba Kavass, the innovative educator behind this proposal, was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  And while she continues to work on the project, she will soon have to take a step back and let others lead in her place.  But the community rallied.  Roughly to the tune of $150,000 and climbing.  Because of this community support they’ve already made 148 loans out to people in over 50 countries.  The next step is setting up a larger and more focused KIVA Club loan program, working with SME Uganda to make slightly larger loans available to people in need.

Follow MFiA Online

The project website, microfininaction.weebly.com, is also doing well, having received it’s 1000th unique visitor recently.  This website is where Biba, and those who will continue in her stead, chronicle their work as well as get in contact with prospective partners.
Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 7.55.01 AM
Despite the unforeseeable setbacks they faced it would seem like MFiA has been a great success, in every avenue they proposed.  The students, educators, and community all benefited from this project, which is something we value here at McCarthy Dressman.  We hope to see many more innovative projects, like this one, funded in the future.

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Further Reading

Microfinance in Action

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How can high school students learn about globalization in an economics course?

In an increasingly globalized world the standard skill set of a global citizen is rapidly shifting.  While it would be impossible to give the students every bit of skill and knowledge they will need to be competitive in the global marketplace, one program is setting about to make a small change in how high school students approach economics that looks to be paying big dividends.

Students visit Scott Kessler at the Cora Texas Manufacturing Company in White Castle, Louisiana to learn first hand about sugar production.
Southwind High School students visit Scott Kessler at the Cora Texas Manufacturing Company in White Castle, Louisiana to learn first hand about sugar production.

The teachers at Southwind High School in Memphis, TN have implemented a completely unique approach to teaching economics students about globalization and microfinance.

The project, currently in progress, involves the students in project-based learning to address multiple student skills including:

  • critical thinking
  • decision-making
  • global citizenship, and
  • responsibility

So how has this school approached this project and how successful have they been in its implementation? This ambitious endeavor is projected to take three years to implement.

Incorporating Problem Based Learning with Global Economic Issues

For economics students at Southwind High, things have changed.  No longer the victims of textbooks and lectures, these students participate in an integrated curriculum on globalization.

What does an integrated curriculum exploring globalization and economics look like?

First, students work in groups to develop awareness of important concepts for the project. Research topics include:

The Eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) ...
The Eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of UN. Target date: 2015 http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Next, using ‘future problem solving’ skills, the groups develop a solution to address those issues in their selected country.

Finally, students will present their findings to the Ambassador of their selected country. Presentations will also be shared in a guidebook entitled Microfinance in Action: A Guide for Teenagers that will be used to supplement other high school economics courses.

How are real world skills and field experiences incorporated into the project?

In addition to the web research conducted, student groups communicate via Skype to high schools in developing nations. Using social media, students promote awareness of global economic issues, publishing research to a global awareness blog and producing video documentary segments.  The blog also invites other schools to get involved or start their own program.

Students also have the opportunity to travel to various locations in the United States and Central America to document individual stories of those most affected by economic issues. During that time students will produce presentations on research they have conducted on economic, political, and cultural issues on selected developing nations.

What is the impact of this project so far?

During year one, students created the project website where you can watch the project unfold. (http://shskivamemphis.weebly.com). Groups have completed their Global research and the first two chapters of the Guidebook have been drafted and are being revised.  The students and participating faculty traveled both to the Global Youth Institute as well as to Mississippi to film their documentary projects.  So far, the program served 150 students at Southwind as well as teachers from ten different schools.

How can this project inspire other educators?

Phyllis Cassidy, Executive Director, Good Work Network, New Orleans, Louisiana shares with students how to the organization she founded helps minority and women owned businesses start, grow, and succeed.
Phyllis Cassidy, Executive Director, Good Work Network, New Orleans, Louisiana shares with students how to the organization she founded helps minority and women owned businesses start, grow, and succeed.

By taking such a unique and global perspective on economics, teachers Biba S. Kavass and Landon Hawthorne are insuring their students will have a much easier time navigating the global market place due to the early exposure to real economic disparity issues and their subsequent research and involvement.

Project-based learning and integrated curriculum are powerful opportunities to engage students and build real world skills. Here are some resources to explore for developing similar projects for your students.