Eleven groups participating in the Global Education Program presented their culminating projects that address the question: how do different policies affect various SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) in a particular country? The medium through which GEP members express their ideas will range from videos to animations to powerpoint presentations.
About the Global Education Program
In 2015, the United Nations established the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): by 2030, the UN challenges its 193 member states to achieve 17 overarching “Global goals”. These initiatives attempt to address global issues that require international collaboration to bring about solutions. The SDGs encompass various pertinent topics such as climate change, poverty, and gender inequity---all of which are relevant to each and every individual, regardless of location, culture, or occupation.
Nikhil Lahiri ‘18 and Rebekah Park ‘17 wished to introduce the UN and SDGs to the RPS community in an impactful way. With the help of the Innovation Center, Mr. Desai, Mrs. Lahiri, and Dr. Merges, Nikhil and Rebekah founded the Global Education Program this past fall. The Program’s overarching objective was to promote awareness of global issues within the RPS community and encourage students to craft tangible, intelligent solutions to these problems. On ten Friday evenings distributed throughout the school year, 40 students gathered in the Dining Commons to discuss three of the SDGs: no poverty, climate action, and promotion of gender equality. Learning was facilitated through keynote speakers from the U.N. Foundation, the U.N., and area universities, as well as engaging activities such as group research, debate, and guided discussion. The GEP was honored to host the following inspiring individuals:
● Dr. Tom Prusa, Professor and Chair of the Department of Economics at Rutgers, explored the various metrics of poverty and how models differ around the world. He discussed the UN’s role in the fight against poverty, and how policies and other SDGs interact with world hunger’s complexities.
● Mr. Pratik Desai, Global Partnerships Officer at the United Nations Foundation, explained what the United Nations is, how it works, and how it arrived at the SDGs from the original Millennium Development Goals in 2000. He engaged the students with an activity to simulate the policy-making and funding allocation processes that the UN faces every day.
● Dr. Gisela Winckler, physicist, isotope geochemist, and Lamont Research Professor at the Earth Institute of Columbia University, debunked common myths about climate change, and used data to explore its effects around the world. Allison Jacobel, a graduate student working with Dr. Winckler, introduced an activity that shows how her team researches and analyzes the environment in her fields of expertise.
● Ambassador Meryl Frank, former U.S. Ambassador and U.S. representative at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, shared her work and life lessons learned from her years as a mom, the Mayor of Highland Park, and the U.S. Ambassador. She explained how she teaches women to strengthen their presence through body language and vocal technique, as well as how American women face gender inequality similar to their global counterparts.
● Dr. Diane Rodriguez, Director of the Every Girl Is Important Initiative and Associate Professor of Curriculum and Teaching at Fordham University, used media and data to explore gender inequality around the world. She showed excerpts from the documentary “Girl Rising” that provided compelling perspectives on the living conditions of girls in various countries. She shared her initiative’s mission, and discussed how RPS students can take action within their own communities to promote gender equality.
Since the last session on February 10th, students have independently been researching and preparing their final projects. Throughout March, students have reconvened in follow-up meetings to share progress and ask questions.