Global education seems to be an important concern for everybody who fights for a better future. Dr. Celina Del Felice is a researcher and peace educator. She has a background in Political Science and Peace and Conflict Studies, with broad experience at the interface between academic and practical research. Presently, Dr. Celina Del Felice is an e-learning tutor for the North-South Center of the Council of Europe, the Network University, the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, and Swisspeace/University of Basel. Obviously she is the right person to talk to about global education. In the following interview she will answer questions and try to inspire youth to be active and show how it is possible to make smart use of modern technology.
For a start, can you tell us more about the online course Global Education:The Intercultural Dimension and your connection with it?
I am one of the course´s tutors. Global Education courses have existed since 2009, and they are a joint initiative of the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe and The Network University. They cover three different dimensions of GE: the Human Rights Dimension, the Intercultural dimension, and the Democratic Citizenship Dimension. Their main aim is to improve the general understanding of global education, its different thematic dimensions, and its practical application in formal, non-formal, and informal education. More info.
In 2012 we conducted a study entitled Global Education through E-learning: Uncovering Outcomes which showed that “the course improves participants’ awareness of global issues and interconnectedness as well as skills which they apply in their current practice, in new activities, advocacy, and in policy making.”
Who can apply for that online course and how? Is there any possibility for participants somehow to continue collaborating with you and other coaches in future projects?
There are calls periodically, and the course is for teachers, youth workers, policy makers, and in general those working in education with an interest in global education. You can see the deadlines on the website. All alumni are invited to join the Global Education Week Network and participate as country coordinators for future cooperation.
Can you tell us more about choosing technology for education. Does it somehow humanize or mechanize the clasroom? Can you describe some of your experiences?
For us, e-learning is a powerful tool to transcend physical distances. Our participants go through a selection process, and all of them have basic ICT skills, can work in English, and are already involved in educational activities. This methodology works well because of the pre-qualifying requirements. Maybe it would not work well if there were bigger language barriers or if an indivifdual lacked prior experience. We work with people who are already active as educators, youth workers, and policy makers and who want to improve their practice through a global education lens.
Why is Global Education so important?
Never before have we been so interconnected: migrations, global trade, media. We face global challenges that go well beyond national boundaries: climate change, sustainability, health, organised crime to name a few. However, our educational systems often are still framed within national interests and dynamics. The concept of global citizenship is our main challenge: how to coexist as citizens on a planet where we all share rights and responsibilities. Education needs to prepare us to face these challenges proactively, and not defensively or fearfully.
What is more important for you: formal, non-formal, or informal education?
All of them play crucial roles, so for me all of them are important. We all tend to focus on formal education, but slowly non-formal education is being more appreciated. We still need to work much more in the sphere of informal education, for example, from perspectives like urban pedagogy which use the social space as a learning space. For example, murals, the re-design of parks, museums, etc. I have been truly inspired by Educating Cities, a network of local governments working within this framework.
Why is the Intercultural Dimension important, and why is Intercultural Communication important in the Workplace?
We coexist, but we often miscommunicate due to a lack of understanding of our cultural diversity. More and more we work with people with different ideas, backgrounds, and habits, so we need to be able to communicate and harness that diversity as an opportunity. Personally, I have seen the beauties of working in multicultural environments, and I think organisations and companies could also benefit a lot. I would encourage all companies and organisations to offer courses on intercultural and non-violent communication skills, and not only language courses!
What do you see as the biggest challenges facing young people today?
It is hard to say in general. I would say young people need to look for their utopia on their own, re-build their ideals. In the past, utopías were built for them: capitalism, communism, religion, nationalism. Now all these are questioned, and the present systems are not capable of ensuring a sense of community and practically, basic rights like education, health or employment. Many young people feel excluded from society, so they look for a place of belonging, an identify and meaning. Often very innovatively, sometimes, not so easily.
Can you tell us what you think is the single most important question that the youth of this era need to ask themselves?
What does it mean to live a good life as an individual respecting others, family, friends, my local and global community and environment?
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