What do Mr. Rogers, Jane Goodall, and the United Nations all have in common? They are all close supporters of Global Education Motivators (GEM) one of the oldest initiatives for advocating the importance of global education in American schools.
Founded in 1981, GEM has worked tirelessly to promote global issues in the American classroom through engagement with UN educational programs, leadership conferences, and workshops. One of the initiative’s foremost programs is “United Nations Day,” where young students work together, mock UN style, to provide solutions for issues such as human rights, environmental sustainability, education, and food security.
“Believing that international communication exchange is the key to future world peace, the inclusion of cross cultural perspectives has become an integral part of GEM’s global learning programs,” according to GEM’s mission statement. “Global awareness is closely tied to global responsibility.” This commitment to cross cultural perspectives is evident in the initiative’s distance learning courses. These courses are geared for K-12 students. African Folk Tales, Conflict in Sudan and Nuclear Awareness are some of the highlights of the courses available.
GEM also boasts partnerships with the African Studies Center at the University of Pennsylvania and the project for Nuclear Awareness. Additionally, the group has a presence with the United Nations’ education initiative, UN Academic Impact. At UN Academic Impact’s Third Annual Conference, youth members of GEM presented about the program and the importance of empowering other youth to stand up for global issues through community involvement, arts and education.
While the organization most certainly embraces the mantra of “think global,” acting local is just as important for GEM. Based out of Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, GEM is a close partner with local Philadelphia schools and Philadelphia-based programs, like the Greater Philadelphia Global Education Network. Involving local communities and schools with issues of global development is an important part of inspiring larger movements for global education.
– Taylor Diamond