Global education develops students’ global competencies explained Lorraine Ustaris, multimedia producer at the Pulitzer Center and an educator, in her opening remarks to the “Teaching War/Learning Peace: Global Education as Peacebuilding” panel June 2, 2018. These global competencies encourage students to “critically inquire into the world, understand and empathize with a diversity of perspectives, recognize local and global interconnectedness, and take action based on this knowledge,” explained Ustaris.
The panel at the Pulitzer Center Beyond War conference, joined in discussion Pulitzer Center grantee journalists photographer Peter DiCampo and filmmaker Jen Marlowe, Free Spirit Media founder and executive director Jeff McCarter, and social studies teacher Cicely Ogunshakin from School without Walls at Francis Stevens in Washington, D.C.
Explaining their work and experiences promoting these global competencies, the panelists discussed the challenges facing global education practitioners, the best mediums for global education, and the value of news literacy.
The panelists repeatedly emphasized the role of global education as means of promoting students’ agency in peacebuilding efforts. McCarter described the efforts by Free Spirit Media, a Pulitzer Center education partner, to combine media production programming with international travel opportunities for students. Free Spirit Media has partnered with other Chicago non-profit organizations to send students to Nicaragua, South Africa, and India and produce documentaries based on those experiences.
McCarter said he asks students “Do you want to perpetuate systems of oppression or systems of imbalance and injustice, or do you want to shift the narrative and use your power to tell stories that are going to create the world that you want to see?’”
The panelists also discussed global education’s role in enabling students to connect international conflicts and peacebuilding efforts to events occurring in their local communities. Marlowe described helping students make that connection by using her play "There Is a Field" to lead workshops for marginalized communities in the United States.
The play recounts the killing of a Palestinian citizen of Israel. Marlowe explained that the following the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown, she saw an opportunity to create change by connecting the event of the play to experiences of struggle in the U.S.
Through workshops based on the play, Marlowe said she helps students discover how experiences of inequality and struggle are connected in order to promote conversations exploring “how might visions of liberation, justice, and equality also be connected.”
The panelists also addressed the challenges of pursuing global education--mentioning widespread concerns in education such as under-resourced schools, pressures caused by standardized testing, and lack of institutional support--and discussed possible solutions.
DiCampo, a co-founder of Everyday Africa, described developing Everyday Africa’s curriculum to “each lesson match up with Common Core curriculum.” DiCampo explained that working within the structures that teachers are using can help bring news literacy into the classroom.
“We’re in a society of standardized testing, so it’s kinda hard to implement the global piece when you’re teaching to a test,” said Ogunshakin.
Ogunshakin, a frequent user of Pulitzer Center education materials as a social studies teacher, emphasized that the institutional support she receives from her school enables global education. She explained that other teachers may be discouraged from pursuing global education by lack of support, but pointed to the Pulitzer Center as a resource.
McCarter, describing the experiences in the Chicago public schools, pointed out the limitations that administrations may face in supporting global educations in the classroom. “The most under-resourced schools are the schools under the most pressure to teach to the test,” said McCarter.
At the end of the panel, an audience member asked, “How can we spread it? How can we make more people do the kind of work you guys are doing?”
“We’ll take donations,” quipped DiCampo. The room comprised of educators, journalists, and policy-makers exchanged knowing looks and laughed.