Think Tank Focuses on Global EducationBy Eleanor O'Donnell, Ed.M.'10, and David Miller, Ed.M.'12
How do we negotiate global education amidst the many other demands on our schools? This was the question that teachers, administrators, and curriculum specialists came together to discuss at this year’s Think Tank on Global Education, held May 16–18 in Askwith Hall. The Think Tank is one among more than 30 Programs in Professional Education hosted by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and the only one that focuses on how to develop global citizens and global competency among students in K–12 schools.
According to the convener of the event, Professor Fernando Reimers, director of the International Education Policy Program, “This Think Tank on Global Education brings together a community of leaders who are working, in various roles and places, to educate more cosmopolitan students, capable to understand and to act on critical global challenges. There are few areas of education so demanding of visionary and courageous leadership and it is reassuring to engage in dialogue with these colleagues who are building pathways so more students can invent the future.”
Courageous leadership was not lacking at the Think Tank, however, which attracted over 100 educators from all over the world including Brazil, Australia, the Republic of Congo, Qatar, Nigeria, the UK, and Saudi Arabia. These committed and passionate participants not only benefited from each others’ experience during the informal discussions and structured consultancies that the Think Tank offered, but also from the expertise of the panelists, which included Senior Lecturer Joe Blatt, Assistant Professor Natasha Warikoo, and former HGSE faculty member Veronica Boix Mansilla, Ed.M.’92, Ed.D.’01.
Ron Israel, vice president of the global nonprofit Education Development Center, Inc., opened the Think Tank with his views on what it means to be a global citizen, and how schools can best develop this standard for their graduates. Ken Kay, the CEO of EdLeader21, also shared the ways in which global education relates to 21st-century skills and assessment. The Think Tank addressed such practical topics as teacher professional development, partnerships and study abroad, and building coalitions with diverse stakeholders. Over the three days, participants engaged in case study discussions, online dialogues, and a variety of interactive presentations in order to exchange ideas, best practices, and perspectives.
At the beginning of the first session, Reimers played a short clip from the film Alice in Wonderland in which Alice is told, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.” As the Think Tank came to a close, the energy in the room was palpable, and although there were significant challenges ahead and many questions still unanswered, over 100 educators left Harvard with a clearer sense of where they were going and more tools, knowledge, and connections to further the cause of global education.