ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Integrating Global Education in Every Discipline

Post submitted by Whole Child Blogger Robyn Gee

Dave Wilton - 2011 ASCD Annual Conference

"Let's go shopping!" This simulated trip to the mall caught session attendees by surprise on Sunday morning, but the activity served its purpose.

Dave Wilton, from Facing the Future, modeled this activity with the group to demonstrate one way that teachers can integrate global awareness education into their classrooms.

Each participant was assigned a random dollar amount. This was their hypothetical income. Then, they got a list of items—in the categories of food, heat/fuel, transportation, and home—for sale at a global mall, where they were told to shop for their basic needs. People with $200 on their card could buy only locally grown rice and beans, provide heat with firewood, and purchase a single bicycle, while those with $5,000 could purchase organically grown food and install solar panels on their houses. Afterward, each group discussed how their income affected the extent to which they could consider the environment when making their purchasing decisions.

According to Wilton, in 2011, the world's population will rise to 7 billion, while 48 percent of the world's population lives on $2 per day (as of 2008). "The idea is that just knowing these facts doesn't make you any more globally competent than before. How can we help our students understand that they can make a difference in these statistics in their own communities?" asked Wilton. He added that global education should be integrated into all disciplines throughout every grade level. "It's not an add-on," he said.

Next, Wilton began a discussion about the definition of sustainability. Teachers in the room wanted their students to grasp specific concepts in relation to sustainability. One AP Environmental Science teacher had her students attempt to define the term. "I was looking for some connection between the world now and the world in the future; a lot of students didn't get it," she said. Other teachers said they hoped their students would associate sustainability with renewable resources, their effect on future generations, and the fact that things can't continue this way forever.

As another example, Wilton walked through one lesson plan called the Clean Water Challenge. The lesson begins by having students pollute small amounts of water with whatever they can find (dirt, oil, paper), then spend a week in the lab cleaning the water to the point that it's drinkable again. You can watch this video of this lesson, developed by Jessica Levine:

Clean Water Challenge Overview from green levine on Vimeo.

Facing the Future is a nonprofit organization that designs curriculum, primarily for K–12 classrooms, that integrates global education into standards-based lessons. Wilton said half of the Facing the Future lessons are available for free online.

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