Social Studies Professor Bill Gaudelli Speaks at UN: Global Citizenship ☆

This past Thursday, February 20, Associate Professor of Social Studies, William Gaudelli participated in a discussion called Global Citizenship and the Future of the United Nations at the UN Headquarters in New York City. The discussion was part of larger event that celebrated the launch of a book titled A Forum for Peace: Diasaku’s Ikeda’s Proposals to the UN.

“The book was basically the idea of establishing a world form of peace,” said Gaudelli. “It’s a 600 page tome about what the UN has done and will do in regards to peace.”

Gaudelli spoke for approximately five minutes of the three hour panel and chose to use his time to talk about the notion of global citizenship, specifically what it means to be a global citizen, who gets to be a global citizen, and how do we as a society work together to make global citizenship more accessible to people in other countries.

Gaudelli opened his remarks with a story about a visit to a school in Mumbai that he conducted a few weeks ago. He mentioned that teachers told him that students’ biggest challenge is sharing a very small room with up to 30 people. He stressed that living conditions such as those do not provide an “adequate standard for learning.”

“Children live in flats not much bigger than my office,” he said. “When you have families of ten sharing spaces, there isn’t an opportunity for children to have their basic needs met. The challenge is, how do you create a society that is inclusive to all people so that they have access to cultural life—whether it is social or political? People would not take time to participate in civic life because they are too busy trying to get their basic needs met. They worry about things that we take for granted, like getting water from the tap.”

Gaudelli also stressed the importance of understanding global citizenship as a daily practice that involves those in power standing in solidarity with those not in power.

“Interdependence of the species on each other is a critical piece of understanding global citizenship,” he said. “We need to encourage people to think about global citizenship as a daily, local thing. It’s not just for special occasions or certain people; it’s a mindset we can adopt. It’s in how we live in and with our environment.”

In effort to create awareness as well as what Gaudelli calls “global consciousness”, he and his colleagues at Teachers College are teaming up with two nonprofits—Asia Society and World Savvy—to create a new certificate program called Global Competence for those teachers who want to learn, think, and do more in their teaching globally. The program will allow teachers to take online courses in sustainability, economics, digital media, human rights, and project-based learning. In addition, teachers in the program will spend time working with their global colleagues in places like Bangladesh, El Salvador, and Tanzania over the summer.

“We hope that this effort will bring more global awareness,” said Gaudelli. “We want teachers to be more thoughtful about the world and how they live in it. I am really encouraged that TC is placing value on this issue, especially in terms of teacher development.”

Contributed by Allison Baldwin

Staff Writer