• A Preferential Option for the Poor: Working as a humanitarian in our global village

    Are you an aspiring humanitarian looking to make a difference?

    What approach should the aspiring humanitarian take to begin her work? How do we best accompany those in need across our global village?

    Professor Bill Moseley (Macalester College Saint Paul, Minnesota) recently wrote, while "The world needs good international citizens who are willing and able to manage its global development and humanitarian institutions," we should rethink our approach to the task (click here to read Professor Moseley's complete article).

    Dr. Mosley suggest throwing out most of the conventional career development wisdom and focusing on two important areas: 1) your own deep knowledge of the people, culture, and region of our global village you are interested in working and 2) approaching your work with a sense of partnership rather than a "saving the world" attitude.

    Dr. Paul Farmer agrees with Mosley. Farmer argues that we need to adopt a policy of a "preferential option for the poor." In Farmer's latest book, he explains his "accompaniment model" (click here for the first chapter). 

    Discussion starters:

    1.     Why does Professor Mosley suggest spending a great deal of time learning and spending time in a culture?

    2.     What problems might the "saving the world" attitude create for the humanitarian and or people involved?



  • President Obama is bringing the US military involvement in Afghanistan to an end

    President Obama said this week that the next US step in Afghanistan is to "bring America's longest war to a responsible end." The President said that 22,000 more troops are coming home by the end of the year, ending the U.S. combat mission in December 2014. 

    Afghan forces have assumed the lead in security and combat all operations allowing the United States to draw down troops - from a peak of 100,000 U.S. troops, to about only about 32,000 at present.

    "When I took office, we had nearly 180,000 troops in harm's way," President Obama said. "By the end of this year, we will have less than 10,000."

    Obama said, "I think Americans have learned that it's harder to end wars than it is to begin them. Yet this is how wars end in the 21st century - not through signing ceremonies, but through decisive blows against our adversaries, transitions to elected governments, security forces who take the lead and ultimately full responsibility. We have to recognize that Afghanistan will not be a perfect place, and it is not America's responsibility to make it one. The future of Afghanistan must be decided by Afghans. But what the United States can do - what we will do - is secure our interests and help give the Afghans a chance, an opportunity to seek a long, overdue and hard-earned peace."

    Discussion starters:

    1.     Is the US President correct about how wars end in the 21st century?

    2.     After years of war is it the responsible action to leave Afghanistan to the Afghans?

  • For Immigrants the United States in the top destination

    According to the Pew Research Center, the United States is the top destination in the world for those moving from one country to another (http://pewrsr.ch/1kjVRSN).

    In 1910, Germany was the top country of birth among U.S. immigrants. Today, Mexico is the source of the largest wave of immigration in history from a single country to the United States.

    Immigrates come to the United States for many reasons. Some are fleeing conflict in their home countries while others are seeking opportunities.

    Discussion starters:

    1.     What changes occur when large groups of people migrate from one part of our global village to another?

    2.     How might global relations change when large parts of one state have close ties to another state?



  • The Power of Hope, the Power of One

    Admiral William McRaven's recently said, "changing the world can happen anywhere and anyone can do it."

    McRaven is the commander of U.S. Special Operations and led Operation Neptune Spear, which resulted to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

    In his recent Commencement speech at the University of Texas at Austin. McRaven, wanted the graduating class to know that they will "affect the lives of 800 million people in the next century."

    "If I have learned anything in my time traveling the world, it is the power of hope. The power of one person-Washington, Lincoln, King, Mandella and even a young girl from Pakistan-Mallah-one person can change the world by giving people hope," said McRaven.

    Discussion starters:

    1.     Do you agree with Admiral McRaven' in the power of one person to change the world?

    2.     What leadership advice did you hear in Admiral McRaven's speech?


  • Honoring Sir Nicholas Winton the man who saved 669 children from the ***

    Our problems are so complex. What can one person do? Those in power make all the decisions. How can one person make a difference?

    Sir Nicholas Winton celebrated his 105th birthday at the Czech embassy in London on Monday. There are birthday cards and a letter from the prime minister and the president of the Czech Republic announces that in October this year (2014) Winton will be awarded the Order of the White Lion, the highest order in the Czech Republic.

    In 1938 Time magazine selected the Chancellor of the Third Reich, Adolf Hitler, as the man who "for better or worse" had most influenced events of the preceding year.

    Hitler and his German government had established concentration camps all over Germany to handle the masses of people arrested as alleged subversives.

    In 1938 Nicholas Winton was packing for a holiday trip in the Alps when he received a phone call. With urgency a friend described Hitler's creation of the concentration camps in Czechoslovakia and asked for help. Nicholas dropped everything he was doing, changed his plans, and immediately went to Prague with only one goal - to help the endangered people.

    In Prague, Winton created an office and contacted international embassies to secure asylum for as many at risk Czechoslovak citizens as possible. Winton's Prague office, situated in an old house, began to fill with parents who wanted to save their children from the Hitler's death camps.

    Nicholas Winton managed to save 669 Czechoslovak children before war was declared in September of 1939.

    Discussion starters:

    1.     What is special about NGOs that allows them to do work governments are unable or unwilling to do?

    2.     How would you answer poet Mary Oliver's question: "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"


  • Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict to be held in London

    The use of rape and other forms of sexual violence are widespread in armed conflicts across our global village. Sexual violence inflicts unimaginable suffering and destroys individual lives, families, and even communities.

    International law prohibits of sexual violence in armed conflict. Sexual violence also represents one of the most serious forms of violation of an individual's basic human rights.

    On 10-13 June 2014 in London, Angelina Jolie, Special Envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, will co-chair a Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict. Leaders from around the world will meet to discuss sexual violence in conflict and to establish a set of practical actions that can be taken to prevent and responding to sexual violence.

    Discussion starters:

    1.     How does sexual violence in conflict exacerbate situations of armed conflict and impede the restoration of international peace and security?

    2.     What factors might contribute to sexual violence in conflicts and what steps should we put in place to establish a comprehensive security and justice?



  • Leadership in our global village: NGOs focus efforts on peace-building, reconciliation, climate change and equality for girls and women

    Speaking about his NGO's leadership role, The Elders Chairman, Kofi Annan says, "we have nothing to lose, we are not out to make a career, so we are free to raise our voices and make an impact." Can presidents and state leaders not make the same statement?

    The Elders have created a Strategic Framework 2014-2017 for their NGO. In setting key goals and priorities they have decided to focus their efforts on peace building and reconciliation through high-level diplomacy in Côte d'Ivoire, Israel-Palestine, Myanmar and Syria; as well as public campaigning on climate change and equality for girls and women (click here for more).

    Discussion starters:

    1.     What limits have been removed from the leaders who work within The Elders?

    2.     Why do NGOs, like The Elders, take on these major peace-building efforts instead of governments?


  • Family Planning 2020: global summit seeks to empower 120 million women

    In 2012, the leaders of 150 countries, IGOs, NGOs met in London at a Summit on Family Planning. These global leaders endorsed the goal of expanding access to family planning to enable 120 million women in the world's poorest countries to use contraceptives by 2020.

    According to the United Nations, more than 220 million women around the world lack access to contraceptives they want and need to plan their families. The global partnership, called Family Planning 2020, has created global momentum on the issue of access to contraceptives and has spurred collaboration, innovation, and greater accountability in family planning efforts.

    Eleanor Roosevelt wrote, "Too often the great decisions are originated and given form in bodies made up wholly of men, or so completely dominated by them that whatever of special value women have to offer is shunted aside without expression."

    Discussion starters:

    1.     What power(s) is given to women when they have the ability to space their pregnancies?

    2.     How do we give all women the opportunity to build a better future for themselves and their families?


  • The Commodification of Everything: The Global System and State Relations

    Using data from the CIA Factbook, Business Insider labeled every country in the world by its highest-valued export.

    Professor Immanuel Wallerstein has argued that our modern global system (power structure) is shaped and controlled by dominating capitalist interests. Wallerstein theorizes that our economic system and global political relations are divided into peripheral and semi-peripheral world areas.

    Wallerstein posits that the nation-state and the interstate system must remain strong in order to maintain the current global power structure.

    Discussion starters:

    1.     Are capital goods and services driving and supporting the relationship between the peripheral and semi-peripheral?

    2.     Does Africa's wealth in natural resources, particularly precious metals and oil shape global relations?



  • Museum Opening: "Here we tell their story, so that generations yet unborn will never forget."

    Looking back we struggle to make sense of great atrocities committed by one group of humans on another. Why did it occur? How could such happen? What is the true and complete story? Edmund Burke wrote, "those who don't know history are destined to repeat it."

    Last week, President Obama spoke at the opening of the National September 11 Memorial Museum. The museum is meant to be a place we exercise the healing power of memory and learn from our collective past.

    Over the last few years, I have taken students to the Nazi Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp located about twenty-five miles outside of Berlin. The trip is somber, emotional, and often difficult for students. Some 30,000 people died in that camp. For my students the horror of such a place becomes real and the learning deep and significant.  The Sachsenhausen camp memorial has several restored or recreated buildings that now stand to remind visitors of the horrible camp conditions. In 1992, Neo-*** set the barracks of the Jewish Museum building on fire (the perpetrators were arrested). The Museum has kept the burned walls as a reminder to others of the urgent current need to learn from our past.

    Last week, at the dedication of the 9/11 memorial President Obama said, "Here, at this memorial, this museum, we come together.  We stand in the footprints of two mighty towers, graced by the rush of eternal waters.  We look into the faces of nearly 3,000 innocent souls -- men and women and children of every race, every creed, and every corner of the world.  We can touch their names and hear their voices and glimpse the small items that speak to the beauty of their lives.  A wedding ring.  A dusty helmet.  A shining badge. Here we tell their story, so that generations yet unborn will never forget."

    Above: President Barack Obama and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg tour Memorial Hall at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum prior to the 9/11 Museum dedication in New York, N.Y., May 15, 2014 (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).

    In learning from our past it is critical that we do not leave out important aspects. A number of scholars and Muslim groups have expressed concerns about how the museum presents the causes of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The primary concern is about a short film shown at the end of the museum that they feel does not distinguish clearly enough between the extremist violent beliefs of al-Qaida and the non-violent tenets of the Muslim faith.

    Discussion starters:

    1.     Do the lessons of the past strengthen our resolve to preserve freedom, and inspire an end to hatred, ignorance and intolerance?

    2.     Who selects what history is retold in museums and our books and what might be the consequences of that selection on terrorism and its impact on communities at the national and international levels?

  • Does the global blending of language hold the power to transform and influence our global culture?

    Ben Blatt of Slate used data from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (click here) to create several interesting maps of languages spoken in the United States.

    In this map of the most commonly spoken language in each US State besides English and Spanish.

    Since the 1980s the linkages within and across our global village have grown significantly stronger. The idea of "globalization" is that as technology and transportation improved our business and social lives have become linked and even blended across the globe.

    Discussion starters:

    1.     What surprised you the most about the above maps?

    2.     How might this global blending change our global consciousness of one another and what effects might it have on world society?



  • World leaders unequivocally condemn the kidnapping schoolgirls in Nigeria #BringBackOurGirls

    In April, the radical Islamist group, Boko Haram, kidnapped some two hundred and seventy-six school girls from their boarding school in the town of Chibok, in north-eastern Nigeria.

    Above: Michelle Obama joined the #BringBackOurGirls campaign to bring home the girls.

    The militant Islamist group, Boko Haram, members adhere to a radical version of Islam which makes it forbidden, for Muslims to take part in any political or social activity associated with Western society (it would be interesting to know how they define "Western society). The men of Boko Haram forbid voting in elections and participation in any secular education. These girls were targeted for the simple reason that they went to school.

    The girls were exercising their right to education and thus abducted. The United Nations reports that the children will be sold as slaves or child brides in the markets across the globe if they are not rescued soon.

    The United States, Britain, France, Canada, and China have offered assistance in finding the girls and Nigeria has accepted.

    Discussion starters:

    1.     Does the United States (and other countries around the world) have a responsibility to rally behind the parents, people and Government of Nigeria and bring the girls back home to safety?

    2.     While most of us agree that human rights (including a right to an education) are indivisible and universal, women and girls continue to be systematically targeted, assaulted, trafficked and enslaved. Why women and girls?


  • Save the Children's State of the World's Mothers Report 2014

    Being a mother is an extraordinarily tough job no matter where you live. But mothers living in crisis situations face incredible challenges.

    Save the Children has published their 15th annual State of the World's Mothers report (click here for the full report). The report is focused the millions of women and children in our global village who live in fragile communities beset by conflict and natural disasters, and their everyday struggle to survive.

    Save the Children's State of the Worlds Mothers report outlines the best and worst places to be a mother in our world.

    The Save the Children report makes these five recommendations to governments, international agencies, the private sector and civil society:

    1.     Ensure that every mother and newborn living in crisis has access to high quality health care

    2.     Invest in women and girls and ensure their protection

    3.     Build longer-term resilience to minimize the damaging effects of crises on health.

    4.     Design emergency interventions with a longer-term view and the specific needs of mothers and newborns in mind.

    5.     Ensure political engagement and adequate financing, coordination and research around maternal and newborn health in crisis settings.

    Discussion starters:

    1.     Do have we all share the responsibility of ensuring that mothers and children living in crisis-affected contexts have the best chance to survive and lead healthy lives?

    2.     What steps must be made to fulfill the above recommendations?