No Impact Man

POSTED ON BEHALF OF KATIE KASSOF

No Impact Man: The Documentary, a film by Laura Gabbert and Justin Schein, follows the experiment of author Colin Beavan and his family as they attempt to live with no environmental impact in New York City for one year.  It is a fairly well known documentary (and book) made in 2009 and is available streaming on Netflix and in the AU Library.

This film would be best suited to a high school and younger adult audience because of the open mindedness that often disappears in older age groups.  Also, since some of the themes are more mature (no, not in sexual ways…) I feel that the film might be lost on younger audiences.  Because of the way I envision using this piece, to launch into a larger project that would span 2-4 weeks, it would fit best in a more formal environment or at least an environment which offers repetitive meetings for a minimum of one month.  Because of the diverse themes the film presents, it could fit into many different subjects, but environmental science and psychology are the two that initially come to mind.

The idea for an activity around this film is pretty obvious but has many opportunities for discussion and introspection.  First the class will watch the film.  It is about 90 minutes so it may be split up over two class periods.  This will lead nicely into a discussion of the students’ impressions of Colin and his wife, as well what they thought were the most reasonable things to give up and the things they would not be willing to give up (I’m sure electricity will be top on the list of things no one would be willing to live without).  After this discussion the students will each be charged with a week-long project: choose something in their life to live without for one week straight.  Document this journey either with a written journal or video journal (depending on resources and/or student learning preference).  After their week of abstinence, the students must explore how this impacted their life, the environment and the world and present their findings in a creative class presentation.  The larger issues of personal peace and sustainability can be discussed after the students have a chance to ruminate on their experiences.

At first glance No Impact Man seems strictly like an environmental impact documentary, which does fit in with the peace concept of sustainability.  It could also qualify for a Pacifist theme.  While watching the film, though, another theme emerges: personal peace.  Sure you can take away all of the environmental positives from the film: waste less, use less energy, be less materialistic, eat locally, etc., and these are absolutely important.  But I think the more poignant take away was the improvement of the family and the personal peace they each achieved.  Better yet, this was a surprise to Colin and his wife as well.  They too went in with the environment in mind and came out with a much bigger picture experience.  Their health improved from eating locally and cutting out take away.  They state that they become better parents to their 3-year-old daughter by playing more family games and cutting out television.  They spend more time out of doors exploring the city and being social, especially when they give up electricity.  They are less invested in material possessions and more focused on the well being of their family.  Add to this the obvious environmental discoveries and you have a recipe for a great peace teaching film.

Check out the website http://www.noimpactdoc.com/index_m.php and watch the trailer .  Enjoy!

One World Youth Project

I stumbled on the One World Youth Project website while looking online for information for another assignment. However, I was very happy I did after reading more about the project.

One World Youth Project (OWYP) was founded in 2004 by then 18 year-old Jess Rimington as a link between her high school in Massachusetts, USA and a school in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The project seeks to effectively respond to global change. Due to global change there is unprecedented migration and the world is experiencing a digital revolution. However, schools around the globe are not preparing youth for the interconnected world. OWYP feels that those prepared to operate within this reality will see this interconnection as an opportunity and those not prepared will see this changing landscape as a threat.

To prevent this threat, One World Youth Project links schools around the world to build mutual respect and understanding among students and provide them with global life skills needed for success in the interconnected 21st century. This is done by the organization establishing a link between education systems. With each partner university, OWYP establishes a service-learning program-a One World Hub-on their campus for the benefit of their students as well as the surrounding secondary school system. OWYP provides a series of trainings that prepare university students as facilitators of cultural exchange between local secondary school classrooms and other OWYP classrooms abroad. After this training, the university students lead a Global Citizenship curriculum in local secondary schools, preparing the younger generation for the interconnected 21st century.

The fact that the OWYP is tailored for college students to help 6th through 12th grade secondary school students is perfect. These secondary students will feel more at ease with the college students, and the college students also get a chance to learn. For a year in a formal education setting the secondary school students learn through deep reflection on intercultural communication, as well as local and global leadership.

Ways to use this resource:
The teacher is ultimately allowing a college student to come in once a week and facilitate this communication for a year (2 semesters). The secondary school students connect with other classrooms abroad through video, voice, letters and the Internet. While students move through the facilitated program once a week in their classroom, their partner peers in the abroad classroom do the same. This connection allows for deep reflection on and constant collaborative investigation of intercultural communication.

The first semesters curriculum focuses on giving students the tools to understand their own cultures and begin the process of exchanging and communicating across cultures. From there the lessons move to issues of global connections and development by introducing the ways in which goods and systems flow around the world and to the concept of the UN and the Millennium Development Goals. Using these tools, students will identify issues in their communities and create plans to address these issues.

As the students move into the second semester with OWYP, students will continue to learn about ways to communicate with people in other cultures by analyzing different forms and systems of communication. Then they will be prepared to participate in collaborative dialogues to create change by identifying key community players and exploring ways to engage them in conversations around community issues. As students move through the program, these plans will turn into actionable service learning projects.

I think it would also be beneficial if the college students that come to facilitate also have one on one time with the students too. They could interact in dialogue or the college student could facilitate experiential learning activities so that the secondary students are also learning from the older college student too.

If a teacher wanted to set up a One World hub at a University near their school, or to find out if one is already established, they could email info@oneworldyouthproject.org.

The end goal of OWYP is to create a just world built through the actions of empowered, discerning and empathetic generations of global citizens. OWYP hopes to accomplish this by facilitating intercultural communication between students of different backgrounds. This type of peace project supports one of the seven pillars of peace education, community building. This pillar focuses on finding things that unite and bind us together as a group, while at the same time respecting and celebrating our differences. Allowing students from different backgrounds to communicate across borders will create a new understanding of what makes them both different and similar. Students that engage in the program will become well-rounded citizens that are able to operate in a diverse world.

From Hostility to Hospitality

William Ury’s TED talk from October 2010 is an excellent tool for introducing new learners to the field of conflict transformation. The simplicity of Ury’s language, his use of stories and visuals, and the brevity of the lecture make this video appropriate for a broad audience, and it would be best suited for students in high school or older, in both formal and informal settings. The lecture is a wonderful way to introduce the field of conflict/peace studies to students because it incorporates key concepts such as creativity, interrelatedness, perspective, narrative, and humanization through specific examples that make these ideas easy to understand for novices.

Ury’s lecture would be a good way to begin a course or training session (such as training students and/or adults in mediation or facilitation), and should be followed with small-group discussion in order to draw out and reinforce themes. As the screening and discussion could be conducted in as little as 35 minutes, this program could serve as an “icebreaker,” allowing participants to get to know one another informally (through discussion) but also setting the scene by introducing key concepts, and inspiring the group with both emotional and rational appeals.

This program incorporates aspects of multiculturalism, conflict resolution, international relations, and even human rights. Its implementation would ideally develop a basic understanding of important themes in conflict transformation, as well as a positive attitude and optimism toward the creation of peace. Ury’s talk also inspires creativity, analysis, and reflection.

(By Emily Ludwin Miller, emillerk@gmu.edu)

Nonviolent Campaigns: Who, What, Where, When, How and Why

POSTED ON BEHALF OF MONICA SHAH

So you’ve heard a lot about the powers and successes of nonviolent action but are ready to move beyond teaching about Gandhi and Dr. King. Thanks to a project lead by George Lakey at Swarthmore College, there is now a Global Nonviolent Action Database that provides free access to the hundreds of cases of nonviolent campaigns around the world! The intention of this database is, “to assist researchers and activists to better understand the special features of nonviolent struggle that make it different from both violent and institutional politics.”

Lakey, the Director of Training for Change and 2010 Peace Educator of the Year, explains that “nonviolent action” is also commonly known as:

  • People Power
  • Civil Resistance
  • Satyagraha
  • Nonviolent Resistance
  • Direct Action
  • Pacifica Militancia
  • Positive Action

The database includes cases that are identified as “campaigns”, not “movements” because they consider movements to typically consist of a number of campaigns aimed at achieving large goals. Also, the campaigns researched are ones that have reached their point of completion. Each “case” is presented as a database file and narrative that describes the issues behind the campaign.

The database can be searched by country, issue, or method used. The campaigns are grouped by the following categories: democracy, economic justice, environment, human rights (religious and women’s rights), national/ethnic identity (and anti-colonial struggles), and peace. You can learn about nonviolent action that took place everywhere from Afghanistan to Norway to Zimbabwe. You can even find campaigns that occurred as early as Before A.D. in Italy to present-day in Egypt. If you are interested in learning about the larger movements, you can search under “Waves of Campaigns” to find information about:

  • African Democracy Campaigns
  • Arab Awakening
  • Asian Democracy Campaigns
  • Colour Revolutions
  • Soviet Bloc Independence Campaigns
  • U.S. Civil Rights Movement

Here is an example:  “Egyptians campaign to oust President Mubarak, 2011”

On this page you will find the time period, the description of the location, the goals, methods and classification of the case. You can also find information about the campaign’s influences, leaders, partners, allies and opponents, order of social groups and the success outcome. Lastly, everyone also has access to the sources used to compile the information to learn even more about the study!

This resource supports three Pillars of Peace Education: 1) Exploring Approaches to Peace; 2) Reframing History; and 3) Transforming Conflict Nonviolently. Students can learn how people around the world aim to achieve peace. Furthermore, they can look at history through the lens of nonviolent actions – narratives that are often left out in schools’ historical texts. Lastly, the database acknowledges that conflicts do exist, and it provides examples of a variety of methods that people use to approach conflict alternatively—nonviolently.

With regard to the uses of the database, the team included this wonderful message: “Strategists, activist organizers, scholars, and teachers will find many uses for the database, as well as citizens wanting to expand their horizons. Even before release to the public, for example, a teacher who knew the database team was using our cases to assist middle school pupils to develop plays. Any school that teaches about the environment, civil rights, or other issues may find the curriculum enlivened by sending students to the database. History students might enjoy doing the detective work of finding the hidden stories in their local area that could be developed into cases. The database also offers an invitation to geographical learning.”

I would recommend this database to be used by students starting in middle school. Though I believe that educators can incorporate this across the curriculum, it may be most welcome in a Social Studies department. The information provided can truly open students’ eyes and deepen their understanding of nonviolence, people power, and the struggle for justice, peace, democracy or human rights around the world. It may also help students to better grasp the tactics and motivations of the ongoing “Occupy” movements across the nation. The database can be utilized in formal or community education settings. It can also be beneficial for organizers of future movements to scan through this database to examine the advantages or limitations of strategies of previous campaigns.

Happy United Nations Day!

Tomorrow marks United Nations Day, the anniversary of the creation of the United Nations, and a day that we take time to look at the work of this important organization and talk about its impact on the world.

“Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated in 2010: “UN Day is a day on which we resolve to do more. More to protect those caught up in armed conflict, to fight climate change and avert nuclear catastrophe; more to expand opportunities for women and girls, and to combat injustice and impunity; more to meet the Millennium Development Goals.””

No matter what age group, or what subject matter, a discussion of one of the Millennium Development Goals, can be integrated into class today. Younger grades may enjoy learning about what education looks like in other parts of the world for kids like them. Science and health classes can tackle child health, maternal health and HIV/AIDS. Economics, government/civics classes, and other social sciences may find global partnership and gender equity fitting themes for discussion. Some groups may want to find ways to live more sustainable lives or help end hunger. Find out how close we are to reaching these goals and what you/your students can do to help. Use a video/interactive media resource to add a new twist to your lesson!

Check out tomorrow’s ongoing events at the UN and promotional materials on the live webcast.

See how the UN is participating in New York City Public Schools and find examples of resources to use with high school students.

For a holiday themed addition, transform Halloween into a time to give back: check out Trick or Treat for UNICEF to learn about the campaign and see how you can incorporate donation boxes into your school or neighborhood’s celebration.

For other education resources from the UN to incorporate tomorrow and year-round check out the cyber school bus!

These resources and activities designed to recognize this day and this institution can help to build community by creating common goals for the class to work for and think about through class-wide, school-wide, or community-wide projects. A look at the UN can also help students explore approaches to peace by recognizing the physical, structural, and cultural violence that exists in the world, and highlighting the global community’s efforts to eradicate that violence.

Peace Week 2011

Peace Week 2011 is a free global telesummit that involves “an extraordinary week of presentations, forums, music, art and reflection on the prospects of creating a sustainable culture of peace.”  There are 52 peacebuilders who will be speaking throughout the week.  I learned about this event from one of the people I follow on Twitter.  Upon opening up the website and learning more about the program, I immediately signed up to participate.

I find this to be a great peace education resource to bring into classrooms because its an opportunity to expose students to a global network of peacebuilders working in a variety of fields.  I think its most appropriate for high school, under grad, or graduate students, as I assume from the topics being covered, that the different sessions are somewhat advanced and would require some background in peace studies to fully appreciate or grasp the subject matter.  Given the large amount of presentations and the week-long schedule, I think this program could be incorporated into either formal or nonformal educational settings.

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