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Speaking about global issues to K-12 schools

March 23, 2016

Each year, the Jackson School of International Studies co-sponsors the Washington State Council for the Social Studies spring conference, a professional development event organized by K-12 educators. This year, the conference was held March 11-13 at Campbell’s Resort on Lake Chelan, Washington, and was attended by over 160 teachers from across the state.

The theme was “Tipping Points.” Nine Jackson School centers sent speakers, who were featured during each of the seven breakout sessions.

Session 1: The Unfinished Sentences Testimony Archive: Teaching the Salvadoran Civil War using Oral Histories

Phil Neff, Program Operations Specialist, Center for Human Rights
Sponsored by the Center for Human Rights and Center for Global Studies

Created by the UW Center for Human Rights and partners in El Salvador, the Unfinished Sentences Testimony Archive is a website of oral histories from the Salvadoran Civil War. Phil explored features of the archive with teachers and led a discussion about classroom applications.

Session 2: Understanding the Middle East Today

Paula Holmes-Eber, Affiliate Faculty, Middle East Center
Sponsored by the Middle East Center

Paula presented an overview of the geographic, religious, ethnic and linguistic diversity of the Middle East and then helped teachers understand current conflicts in the context of this diversity. She made a point of contrasting popular areas in the news (Iraq, Syria, etc) with the many stable and functioning countries across the region.

Session 3: Global Asia: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow; Session 4: What makes 400 Million Chinese Millennials Tick?

Tese Wintz Neighbor, Curriculum author for Newspapers in Education and NCTA seminar leader
Session 3 sponsored by the Center for Global Studies and the Asia Centers at the Jackson School of International Studies; Session 4 sponsored by the East Asia Resource Center

Tese walked through some of the lessons she wrote for the Newspapers in Education series Global Asia: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. These included travel itineraries to 18th century India and dinner with Mao Zedong. Teachers left with a copy of her 30-page curriculum guide.

Tese’s second presentation explored the important historical, social and economic factors shaping the outlook of Chinese youth and considered the challenges and opportunities confronting Chinese in their 20’s and 30’s.

Session 5: Tipping Over: Climate Change in Southeast Asia and the US

Linda Cuadra, Program Coordinator, Southeast Asia Center
Sponsored by the Southeast Asia Center

Preventing bigger climate change problems around the world must include reducing the energy we use in the United States. Sounds easy – but what would you give up? Linda designed a Hearts-style game to challenge teachers and their students to think about energy use, fossil fuel consumption, and different types of alternative energy.

Session 6: Familiar Adversaries, New Minorities, and the Legacy of the Soviet Union

Michelle O’Brien, Graduate Student in the Department of Sociology
Sponsored by the Ellison Center for Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies Center

A quarter century after the fall of communism, Russia and the other post-Soviet states remain a mystery to many teachers. Michelle’s presentation about tipping points in Soviet history addressed this mystery by answering questions such as “How should we teach students about the controversial annexation of Crimea?” and “How do we understand Putin’s firm stand behind Assad in Syria?”

Session 7: A Collapsing European Union? The Eurozone Crisis and its Implications for the European Union

Travis Nelson, Graduate student in the Department of Political Science
Sponsored by the Center for European Studies

Travis’s presentation on the European financial crisis explored how focusing on psychology, beliefs, and behavior can help students understand the EU’s response to its debt crisis. The presentation led to a discussion with teachers about the ramifications of this crisis on European unity and the future of the Euro.

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