Global Classroom Initiative
An Educational Project
16 January 2007
The general idea behind this project was born out of the rift that emerged during the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States and which seemed to separate the U.S. from a good portion of the rest of the world. Due in great part to decisions taken by politicians often out of tune with their populations – and with each other - and amplified by the media, this rift has nevertheless been detrimental to the construction of a “global village” that seemed at our finger tips at the turn of the century.
For a global citizenship
In a world that is increasingly interdependent, problems and issues that arise in our lives can have an impact on a global as well as a local scale. Our actions in the here and now have an effect outside of our own immediate environment. This gives us responsibility beyond our own borders be it as consumers, individual actors or citizens. The emergence of cross-border issues must be matched by the creation of a corresponding cross-border citizenship. Despite the current absence of a global political community changing the scale of our idea of citizenship is not only highly relevant, but also a necessity in the face of the global challenges of today. However the globalization of citizenship is still in its infancy, and far behind that of the financial markets!
The origins of the project: facilitating dialogue between the Americas, Asia and Europe
The idea for this youth dialogue project between the United States, France and the Philippines emerged from a meeting that took place in 2004. This happened as a result of a private Foundation, the Charles-Leopold Mayer Foundation (based in Switzerland and France), to launch a project that would explore the possibilities of opening up stronger communication lines between the citizens of the United States and other countries.
Some US citizens have the sense that they are isolated from the rest of the world, a feeling heightened by the decisions taken by the US government in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The Global Classroom Initiative (GCI) project is part of this same desire to open up a space for dialogue with the US, allowing an understanding of the American continent more fully and in all its diversity: moving away from common stereotypes; showing another side of the United States; and also to open Americans to the realities outside of their vast continent. It also answers a need for dialogue with Asia, a continent towards which Europe does not often turn.
The project therefore emerged from the following observations:
There is a feeling of ‘isolation’ from the rest of the world in certain parts of American society, and a desire to build bridges and open up dialogues with other cultures and continents
For non-Americans, there is a longing to comprehend this continent more fully and move away from common assumptions
The existence of a feeling of powerlessness among teenagers in the face of a rapidly changing world, and the glaring inequalities resulting from the consequences of globalisation
Everywhere, we sensed the rise of nationalist, identity-based feelings and attitudes as response to the fears of globalisation
The emergence of anti-American feeling among young Asians and Europeans (as a direct result of the war in Iraq, US unilateralism on the international stage, and disregard for the Kyoto protocols on the environment etc.)
Work on written and oral communication in English
Use new information and communication technologies
Allow interdisciplinary work across different taught subjects through cross-cultural communication
Know how to search for relevant information
Learn about other educational systems
Help to understand the large global inequalities and allow for thought about how these might be solved
Provide a greater awareness of how different parts of the world are all interdependent
Expose high school students to other cultures: through learning about one Asian, one North American and one European country. How the same problems are seen by others, and earn about the positive aspects of the different models and cultures that exist.
Develop the capacity for critical analysis in the understanding of social, environmental and economic dilemmas, and the differences in the points of view of the actors involved.
Develop the values of responsible citizenship
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