Cultivating Global Citizenship Skills
Global Citizenship is not just a buzzword these days, but rather a key building block in the modern curriculum. It is essential to help students develop an awareness of the ever-shrinking world and give them skills to compete in the global market, while cultivate an appreciation of their global interconnection and social responsibility. Berkshire’s Center for Global Initiatives (CGI) is illuminating this concept through several recent projects.
Most recently, CGI hosted Axis of Hope, a Boston-based non-profit, to conduct a highly interactive seven-hour workshop with Berkshire students. Axis of Hope works with youth in their formative years to impart lifelong social and civic skills, including case study analysis of ways to manage and prevent global and ethnic conflict. Berkshire students had the opportunity to participate in "intellectual Outward Bound" geo-political role-play case studies that required nuanced moral reasoning and empathy to navigate successfully. Through their study of international conflict, students learned valuable negotiation tactics that also nurtured empathy and broader perspectives and, ultimately, the concept of "preventative diplomacy."
Carl Hobert is the founder and CEO of Axis of Hope and currently teaches a class on “Educating Global Citizens” at Boston University. His goal for Axis of Hope is “to teach students how to change the landscape of conflict and to create the prospect of future peace.” He believes in teaching the world’s youth how to develop trust, compassion and empathy for one another and for people around the world. By giving students the tools necessary to practice peace-building, Professor Hobert believes that “we can change the world one student at a time.”
Students in 21st Century Global Politics, Modern Middle East, Modern African Politics and two sections of Modern World History participated in the day-long exercise which focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. To prepare, students studied the history, geography, current events and terminology of the region in their classes. On Thursday, they were divided into six different ethnic and political groups, each with their own perspective and passionate opinion about what to do with the area of Jerusalem. Next, students entered several rounds of negotiations in which they represented their side with as much understanding and authenticity as possible. Through each round of negotiations, the participants worked together on an overall plan for the future of Jerusalem. They considered issues such as security and sovereignty and, by the end of the day, formulated their plan into a 250-word document which will now be sent to key dignitaries in the State Department. Nimer Farhood, a Berkshire student from Palestine felt that the Axis of Hope workshop was an enlightening intellectual experience and led to valuable learning. "It is important for the youth of today to be educated on the topic of Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” he said.
The workshop was so successful that Berkshire has invited Professor Hobert back in the fall in order to engage students in a fascinating case study involving Rwanda.
To find out more about Professor Hobert or Axis of Hope, check out his latest book, Raising Global IQ: Preparing our Students for a Shrinking Planet.
-- Jen Anderson, Center for Global Initiatives Director