2010 CTAUN Conference
Friday, 15 January 2010

Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ

Developing Globally Literate Students: 21st Century Skills, Emerging Technology and the United Nations

CTAUN in collaboration with the New Jersey Department of Education and Rutgers, the State University

Summary of Conference Proceedings

Welcome—Narin Stassis, First Vice-Chair.

Welcoming remarks and thanks were given by Narin Stassis, First Vice-Chair of the Committee on Teaching About the United Nations (CTAUN), who introduced Anne-Marie Carlson, Chairperson of CTAUN; and by Dr. Mary Curran, the Rutgers University Graduate School of Education. Then, Dr. Philip Furmanski, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, welcomed everyone. He said the idea of internationalizing the curriculum is part of the mission of Rutgers University, which offers courses in international and global studies, gender equity and women’s rights. Janis Jensen, director of the Office of Academic Standards of the New Jersey Department of Education, introduced several invited dignitaries and guests, including the first speaker, Shamil Idriss.

Opening Address

Shamil Idriss

Senior Advisor to the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Initiative

In his remarks, Mr. Idriss challenged educators to inspire their students to bridge cross-cultural differences. The 20 member Alliance of Civilizations questions the myth that certain cultures are destined to clash; they work to eliminate the polarization that is caused by political issues. To facilitate this, Idriss points out that since modern students use social networking as their primary source of information, teachers should integrate and use technology rather than try to compete with it.

He urged all present to experience the power of perspective. Globalization causes a crisis of identity in many people, so that both self-confidence and humility are needed when students engage with each other. He then introduced TERANA – translated as “our earth – a new online network, which aims to empower a diverse core group of young people to become community leaders, engaging with others to gain new perspectives. They are encouraged to take information in and pass it around – to share and discuss. Finally, he reiterated this call to integrate new media forms, and urged everyone to use them for education, leadership and the exploration of diverse perspectives.

Keynote Address

Heidi Hayes Jacobs

Keynote speaker, Heidi Hayes Jacobs, is the Executive Director of the Curriculum Mapping Institute and the author of the recently published Curriculum 21: Essential Education for a Changing World.

As she walked to the podium, she took an empty chair from the floor, hoisted it up onto the stage, and explained that this chair was for a student, since all discussion about curriculum should focus on what is in the students’ best interest.

She answered her opening question: What year are you preparing your students for? with several suggestions. Content should be changed, with the caveat that whatever is timeless in literature and the arts is timely. Mission statements of both schools and school boards need to be amended. The UN and its mission should be integrated into the curriculum. Global implications should be explored and examined in a geographical and political context.

Certain myths and ideas are impediments to growth and change in the curriculum; for example, the idea that the good old days were good enough, or that we should “Bring back papyrus or that the key to activities is lamination or that teachers are victims of a schedule.

After providing a brief history of curriculum development, Dr. Jacobs explained that one of the greatest innovations for curriculum development is the $100 laptop. She suggested that in changing the curriculum, one should go beyond “re form to “new form and changes in curriculum should be based on five types of alignment. A curriculum should be designed to match the needs of specific learners in a specific location. Then, alignment should be internal – all elements should align with one another; external – the curriculum must align with external standards; cumulative – it must build from year to year, class to class, from K – 12; and global – it must relate to the world and recognize the perspectives of others.

The basics of curriculum design focus on content, skills and assessment. In changing assessment, kudos go to the state of Rhode Island, where students create electronic portfolios using materials they select to demonstrate their mastery of skills and content. Two basic skills students must master are language and media literacy. To achieve the former, Dr. Jacobs suggests using spoken language exercises, emphasizing consistent and correct use of grammar in writing and speech, developing listening skills, practicing scenarios and learning self-assessment. Using every aspect of the new Internet sources, including www.visualthesaurus.com, www.gapminder.org, www.curriculum21.com and www.wordle.net will help students work independently and achieve media literacy.

Dr. Jacobs encouraged teachers to be provocative in a useful, interesting way and to invigorate teaching and content by creating new paradigms for student learning. Interdisciplinary themes that are important are: sustainability, Gateway cities, livable street education, lifelong physical and mental health, and financial literacy. She concluded that our students want us to respond to them; students want to learn and therefore educators should be committed to an integrated use of technology that enhances content.

Morning Panel

Developing Global Literacy

Shari Albright

chair of the panel, Developing Global Literacy, and CEO of the Asia Society International Studies Schools Network
Ms. Albright began by stating that a changing world demands changing skills. The next economy will be based on science and knowledge, and will be resource-challenged, globally interdependent, demographically diverse and innovation driven.

New global trends will require education to grow a global talent pool that will be competitive as well as collaborative. In the 21st century, students will buy and sell to the world, work for international companies, and manage people from around the world in a 24-hour market.

What is “Global Competence? It is knowledge of world regions, cultures, and international issues and includes the ability to weigh, integrate and synthesize ideas across culture. It means having the skills to communicate effectively in English and other languages and to be able to use the media. It also requires that one have values, and a concern and respect for other cultures. Finally, it means being able to contribute locally, address situations, assess options and act creatively and innovatively.

Mark Wise

Social Studies Supervisor of the West Windsor – Plainsboro School District
Mr. Wise talked about Creating Global Connections in the curriculum. He presented, “Child Labor: Learning from our past to Change our Future, a unit he developed for high school social studies classes. To investigate this problem, students would need global awareness, critical thinking, problem solving, communication, collaboration, information literacy and media literacy, plus life and career skills.

A student might ask: Has child labor changed significantly in our time? Is it an economic necessity? How can my voice be heard? How can I influence others to act? He or she might use these questions to create a survey to be posted on a blog.

To create change in the curriculum, one would have to recognize the global perspective, determining how it is defined and figuring out why it is complex. Students and teachers should aim for a non-US perspective and learn the facts, get involved, share and connect.

Martin Smith

World Languages Supervisor of the Edison School District
showed a student-developed video to illustrate that methods of teaching and learning and the tools of assessment can all be effectively changed.

The video, “Live Healthy, compared and contrasted American and Spanish views on healthy living. Presented in Spanish, it attempts to answer the questions – What is healthy living? And is healthy living a universal concept?

By the end of the semester, students in the class were expected to be able to understand the Spanish language and the material in the video; be able to communicate with their peers in Spanish on the subject of nutrition; and create a new video public service announcement on staying healthy.

This photo story was a multi-media presentation, which not only talked about nutrition but also – through the lyrics of the salsa music – taught the use of Spanish reflexive verbs.

William Yotive

Project Manager, UN Global Teaching and Learning Project
Mr. Yotive asked, “What’s happening at the UN? He focused on resources available at the UN. He mentioned four recent global conferences for students on subjects such as human rights and trafficking; the use of videoconferences, webcasts, and instant messaging; the Cyberschool Bus; and the model UN.

He introduced the audience to the principles of the Starshine Academy: helping each other achieve goals for the greater good of all; celebrating local culture and global diversity as a means to a richer life; having individuals practice being ambassadors for their own country as well as another country not their own; realizing that world peace is a result of individual peace.

He believes that a curriculum must be totally interdisciplinary. Finally he said, “Critique without care cannot unify diverse populations, and understanding without action can do little to change the existing social order.

Gillian Sorensen

Senior Advisor, United Nations Foundation
“A good teacher is remembered forever.” Mrs. Sorensen began her presentation with this tribute to all the teachers in attendance. She continued by paying tribute, too, to all the UN workers who were lost in the earthquake in Haiti.

Mrs. Sorensen structured her remarks around two topics: The United Nations as an institution, and the United States and the United Nations in the context of today. The United Nations, now 65 years old, was born out of the ashes of war. In 1945 there were 51 states in this new organization for peace. Now, a large, complex bureaucracy, there are 192 states represented and it has many diverse agencies, funds and programs, one of the best known of which is UNICEF.

Mrs. Sorensen emphasized that the UN is especially important for small countries. In essence, an international institution reflects all groups, although this makes reaching consensus difficult. But having a first-rate delegation is important for the United States, too, in order to build partnerships and relationships. “Even superpowers need friends. The United States cannot turn away from any opportunity to achieve strategic diplomacy, trust and credibility.

A myth associated with the UN has it striving to become a world government. This is not so. Some of its initiatives are in the fields of peacekeeping, with operations in 16 countries; disarmament; human rights; humanitarian relief; global public health; and the environment. She then pointed out some of the reasons that there are issues between the UN and the US. She indicated that our new Ambassador, Susan Rice, will listen, engage and cooperate.

In conclusion, Mrs. Sorensen said that since we are all connected, the UN is a unique, valuable and interesting place. She fielded questions on the ratification of treaties, member dues, the number of UN employees, and re-forming the Security Council.

Afternoon Panel

Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century

Paige Johnson

Global manager of K-12 education for Intel’s Corporate Affairs Group, responsible for the Intel® Teach Program

Ms. Johson chaired the afternoon panel, “Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century”.

Her presentation focused on global issues and 21st century skills. To illustrate the need for making learning relevant, rigorous and meaningful, Ms. Johnson pointed to statistics on the graduation rate and the implications they have for the workforce of the future. Out of 100 high school graduates, 69 will enroll in college. After one year, only 40 are still enrolled, and only 18 will graduate.

Educators have to ask themselves why their students aren’t finishing college. Is it because of lack of skills or lack of money? Should other methods of teaching be tried? Ms. Johnson concluded that our students must have the ability to compete and they must be taught to act upon their ideas and ideals. She urged teachers to connect to www.intel.com/education.

Molly McClusky

Managing Director, Whole Child Programs at ASCD
Ms. McClusky focused on national issues and 21st century skills. She called on teachers to be accountable to their students. Teachers should ask themselves, What have I done to help them? She feels that we can do better because our children deserve it and our future demands it.

Ms. McClusky believes children have to be healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged. She calls on teachers to end the conflict between adult wants and children’s needs; to recognize that all who serve the needs of children are educators; to coordinate across roles and expertise to insure the success of the whole child.

The school and the community together should plan, collaborate and coordinate. She recommended www.wholechildeducation.org.

Carol James

Co- founder and Co-Director or the Center for Innovative Education at Kean University
Ms. James focused on local issues and 21st century skills. She described New Jersey’s Virtual Learning Community – Creating 21st century New Jersey schools. Phase One in 2009 centered on awareness and familiarization; Phase Two in 2010 will examine critical transformation, including hands-on professional development; Phase Three in 2011 will work on sustaining change. This is a systemic model for continuous professional learning and growth.

Since there is a vast amount of information to access, evaluate and synthesize, she called upon teachers to help students apply their knowledge and skills to personal, workplace and global challenges and for teachers to work collaboratively in cross-cultural settings to solve problems creatively.

Ms. James then showed a video, “Remembrance Journey, a project of the McGinnis Middle School in Perth Amboy. It was a collaborative effort between Holocaust survivors and disadvantaged children. Its theme was that we today should not stand by if bad things happen.

Closing Address

Ramu Damodaran

Deputy Director for Partnerships and Public Engagement, Department of Public Information of the United Nations
Mr. Damadoran began by alluding to CTAUN, saying that the Committee on Teaching About the United Nations should really be recognized as the “Committee Transforming Attitudes About the UN.

Mr. Damadoran said the United Nations needs the academic sector, which has already contributed a great deal. He cited several instances where questions posed by students led to change. One student asked how it was possible that members of the former Human Rights Commission could be elected when the country they represented was clearly in violation of human rights. When member nations recognized this anomaly, they initiated changes, which led to the newly formed Human Rights Council.

Another student asked, Who tries individuals when they have committed crimes against humanity? At that time, only nations could be tried in the International Court of Justice. Realizing the need, the UN began a process leading to the establishment of the International Criminal Court.

Yet another student asked why the percentages and instances of poverty and disease couldn’t be reduced. This led to the formulation of the Millennium Development Goals, clearly spelling out the most pressing humanitarian problems, establishing remedial goals, and setting the date of 2015 for achieving them.

Finally, in response to a student’s asking why it seemed “inconvenient to talk about the Holocaust, the General Assembly affirmed that every country should remember the Holocaust.

Mr. Damodaran believes that everything in the curriculum should have the UN in mind. He congratulated the colleges and universities who are part of the United Nations Academic Impact Initiative, which asks the participants to sponsor at least one activity per year that relates to the UN and the MDGs.

Finally, he believes in collaboration between the world community and schools, between the US and the UN, and between realism and idealism, which creates optimism.


Florence McGinn

Ms. McGinn called for a dynamic paradigm shift, saying now is the time to act. She said dramatic differences were necessary because today’s average teenager sends or receives many text messages a day. She quoted the poet, William Blake:

“To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.
Every teacher and learner holds infinity in his or her hands.