Importance of Global EducationThere are several nonprofit organizations whose missions are to better education in developing countries so that every student has access to equal opportunities. A lot of these programs include funding for teacher associations to ensure that schools are not just well equipped with supplies, but with qualified teachers as well. The Harvard Graduate School of Education is one university whose graduates are qualified to teach any group of students around the world. Their program teaches the importance of global education and prepares students who have an interest in teaching internationally.

The program is called the International Education Policy (IEP) and its aim is to teach students a wide variety of understanding so that graduates can help multiple groups of students around the world. Students learn things from how to improve girls’ education to ways to deliver HIV/AIDS education. Students also learn to design their own innovative programs for schools and how to effectively use those programs to improve the quality of education. Other things that the students learn is how to promote peace, teach about relevant issues and empower students.

Some IEP graduates work with nonprofit organizations such as UNICEF, Save the Children and the World Bank. As education specialists within these organizations, they are policy makers for education worldwide. Some graduates also act as social entrepreneurs and create their own organizations to help with global education.

One graduate of the program, Sara Ahmed, co-founded the Elm International School in Alexandria, Egypt. Ahmed started the school with three goals that she wanted the school to meet. She wanted it to be a student centered environment, use technology as a tool and be internationally minded while still being locally rooted. Ahmed said in an interview, conducted by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, “I wanted a school that I would dream of for my own children.”

Another graduate, Jeff Decelles, started a program called Ragball International, which is based in South Africa. This program takes soccer balls that are created with thrown away plastic by local youths and sells them internationally. The youths making the ragballs also participate in a program that teaches them how to save and set financial goals. The program also teaches students the importance of recycling and re-enforcing the positive impact that reusing has on the environment.

There are many more positive steps that graduates of the IEP program are making towards global education. The most important outcome of this program is that it promotes the importance of global education. With more teachers equipped with knowledge and initiative to make a difference in global education, they can help improve education for students worldwide.

Deanna Wetmore

Photo: Google

World Needs Women Leaders

The world needs women leaders for a plethora of behavioral, temperamental and skill-oriented reasons. Many believe that women do not have the knack for being leaders. While it can be true that women are generally more softhearted than men, women have more grit than normally accredited. Women have a more comprehensive set of skills and qualities, not only those stereotypically described as feminine but also qualities commonly ascribed to men.

The world is shifting toward a more inclusive conception on what qualities a leader should possess. Women have a lot to lose if they fail, and today’s women leaders are taking on the challenge to prove to the world that women are more than qualified to lead the world to prosperity.

Eight Reasons the World Needs Women Leaders

1. Women are more effective.

A study created by the Zenger Folkman firm that examined women’s leadership effectiveness shows that women are perceived as more effective leaders than their male counterparts.

However, the effectiveness of males and females varies by age. Men are perceived as more effective leaders until around the age of 36 to 40. After 40, women become increasingly more effective than men until the age of 60. Women develop their effectiveness over time by learning from others.

2. Women ask for feedback.

The same study further examined the possible explanations for women’s increase in leadership effectiveness by measuring a variety of competencies in the workplace. One of the categories with the most drastic difference between men and women was the “Practicing Self-Development” category.

Women outperformed men in self-development. All people, when initially entering a job, ask questions in order to learn and improve; however, as time goes on, people begin to feel more confident and feel less inclined to ask questions.

Women, on the other hand, continue to ask questions and look for feedback in hopes of always improving. At the age of 40, women continue to persistently ask for feedback while the tendency for men to ask for feedback continues to diminish.

3. Women are held to higher standards.

Many women profess that the reason why they constantly ask for feedback is due to the fact that women feel they have to work harder than men do to prove themselves. Especially in countries that are impoverished, women have fewer opportunities to become leaders; and therefore, there is more pressure for them to do well, not only for themselves, but for all women.

If a woman makes a mistake, it gives more reason for people to doubt women in general. Women leaders rise up to the challenge and face the world’s skepticism head-on. Because there is no room for error, women have to work harder and more strategically than men.

4. Women have empathy.

Leadership is based on interpersonal relationships, and having a respectful, mutual relationship with one’s companions and patrons is an essential tool for a successful leader. Harvard political scientist Joseph Nye says that today’s society has entered a new era in which people best respond to a type of leadership he calls “cool power.”

Women are more inclined to practice this type of leadership rather than one that is more authoritative, thus, making women more effective at influencing others. Empathy also entails understanding different viewpoints and being open-minded. This allows for exchanging of ideas, and ultimately, arriving at the most effective solution to a problem.

5. Women take initiative.

While women do possess some nurturing traits, a rather non-feminine characteristic to describe a woman is actually the category in which women outrank men by the greatest quantity. The Zenger Folkman study shows that women leaders are more effective at taking initiative.

6. As they move up the ladder, women are perceived more positively.

Senior executives and boards of directors more commonly put men in higher-ranked positions because they are uncertain whether or not a woman can perform optimally. However, the Zenger Folkman study shows that as a woman moves up in rank, she is more positively perceived by her fellow co-workers.

7. Women know how to navigate through a crisis.

Women possess leadership characteristics that are most appealing after a crisis. These include people-development, ability to provide clear expectations and rewards, skill in serving as a role model, knack for providing inspiration, and participative decision making.

8. Women bring changes in policy.

Because women experience issues differently than men, women leaders can bring insight and unique perspectives to the table when discussing policy changes. Having women at the table discussing issues not only allows for changes in policy, but it also helps bring awareness to issues that affect women more than men.

Women continue to face contenders who doubt their capabilities, but as more women put their foot in the door and continue to surprise the world with their talents, the world of politics can evolve into a much more open-minded and friendly field of inquiry. Women are taking the world by storm by demanding fairness and equal opportunity.

Whether the globe wants to admit it or not, the world needs women leaders. The unique set of characteristics women possess does not hinder their ability to become great leaders; it further contributes to their success.

Women leaders today have the status and the opportunity to make known the qualities women possess while also making it more accessible for other women to attain a higher status in society and in the job market.

Kayla Mehl

Photo: Flickr

From medicine to law, admittance to many vocations is attached to undertaking an oath to serve humanity. Conversely, universities and institutions of higher education pride themselves on embodying a collective entity of bright minds dedicated to pursuing knowledge for the sake of serving a higher purpose.

One would be hard pressed to find a school that holds itself to these rigorous standards more than Harvard University, where the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative has been making remarkable strides in assisting victims of human rights violations, war, and natural disasters since its establishment on campus grounds in 1999. Taking advantage of Harvard’s sterling reputation in both research and education, the center has combined studies in fields ranging from public health to sociology in its solution-based and interdisciplinary approach to tackling humanitarian crises around the world.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, HHI warned Louisiana and Mississippi residents against consuming potentially contaminated water. The storm had produced perfect conditions for waterborne disease to spread. Thus, it was imperative for federal and state agencies to provide a despondent populace with clean food and water, as well as basic health services, in a quick and efficient manner. Studies funded by HHI, meanwhile, have suggested that a rise in the incidence of rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo may be correlated with the withdrawal of UN troops, which provide civilians with protection against rebel forces. Aside from offering expert advice, HHI has helmed technology to better track and prevent such incidents. Its members analyzed U.S. satellite images to uncover the cause of damage to several oil fields in the Republic of Sudan and South Sudan last year. Because these reservoirs were located along the border between the two countries and both held the other accountable for striking first, it was critical for HHI to prevent the formation of further tensions between the two nations by doing a thorough assessment of the evidence at hand.

HHI also has an eye toward human development. Specifically, it aims to foster new leaders in the field of humanitarianism through innovative training programs. By simulating extreme conditions – even going so far as to place students on food rations and creating the occasional kidnapping scenario – HHI is able to better prepare its members to think rationally and act with conviction on the field.

Although HHI has been in existence for only 14 years, its past and present accomplishments suggest that it will remain a stronghold of humanitarianism for decades to come.

– Melrose Huang

Sources: Harvard Humanitarian Institute, The Boston Globe, BBC, Impunity Watch, Harvard School of Public Health
Photo: Harvard Gazette


So much of the emphasis in judging the quality of life of a country, or its progress, focuses on death. The numbers tell how many people die; how many of the dead were mothers, how many were children, the most fatal diseases, the most deaths by violence, etc. Christopher Murray, a Harvard researcher, took issue with this standard of measurement. While he agreed that death was a powerful indicator of a country’s welfare, he also saw a major oversight in using it as a yardstick. To Murray, it was important not solely to focus on the dead, who we can do nothing for, but also examine the quality of life of the living. Not only to think of how to keep people alive but also to ensure they are living well. Murray’s viewpoint was to revolutionize metrics. He spearheaded the shift from measuring mortality to the implementation of the DALY measure – Disability-Adjusted Life Year.

In simplest terms, the DALY measures the number of years a population lives with a disability, adjusting its productivity accordingly (as a major psychological or health problem will undoubtedly decrease a worker’s effectiveness), as well as measuring the impact of shorter life expectancy (often which is related to the disabilities in the DALY). ‘Disability’ in the term covers a wide arrange of conditions, among them pain, arthritis, mental illness such as depression and PTSD, disfigurement and major diseases. A highly sophisticated system, the DALY is weighted to measure the impact of conditions on younger members of a population more than older members to give a more accurate measure of impact on the economic potential of a given population (as the young are seen to have more potential than the aged because of longevity, energy, new skills, etc.).

Measuring the global burden of disease this way has yielded surprising – and often controversial – results. Yet this data is promising and exciting in that it shakes our current system and demands attention to issues that have so far been neglected. For example, depression and suicide are found to be more damaging than tuberculosis or cirrhosis, and one of the fastest-growing diseases is glaucoma. The DALY’s results have not been welcomed by all, however. When first introduced after measuring international statistics, many countries were graded much lower than on an objective mortality scale and hotly contested the results.

The importance of metric systems in foreign aid is steadily increasing: in a world where every dollar could be used in many different ways, expenditure on aid and social programs needs to be well justified, with potential for results from investment. When asked about the use of DALYs to give an accurate picture of the state of global health, Murray stated, “People walk around with a mental map that’s different for every one of us. A real map has got to be a better guide.”

– Farahnaz Mohammed

Source: Discover Magazine
Photo: Change

Emily Oster
Emily Oster, a University of Chicago economist, uses the dismal science to rethink conventional wisdom, from her Harvard doctoral thesis that took on famed economist Amartya Sen to her recent work debunking assumptions on HIV prevalence in Africa.

Emily Oster re-examines the stats on AIDS in Africa from an economic perspective and reaches a stunning conclusion: Everything we know about the spread of HIV on the continent is wrong.

She brought up an opinion that more exports means more AIDS and that effect is really big, by testing new data and information about prevalence over time. The data that Emily Oster offers suggests that if you double export volume, it will lead to a quadrupling of the new HIV infection. And this has important implications both for forecasting and for policy. From a forecasting perspective, if we know where trade is likely to change, we can actually think about which areas are likely to be heavily infected with HIV and we can go and try to deploy pre-emptive preventive measures there. Likewise, as we are developing policies to try to encourage exports, if we know there is this externality, we can think about what the right kinds of policies are.
But it also tells us that even though poverty is linked to AIDS in the sense that Africa is poor and they have a lot of AIDS, it is not necessarily the case that impoving poverty in the very short run is going to lead a decline in HIV prevalence.

And she also questioned the HIV prevention case in Uganda, the only country in Sub-Saharan Africa with successful prevention. It is true that there was a decline in prevalence in Uganda in 1990s and they had an education campaign for it. But there was actually something else that happened in Uganda in that period. Their exports went down a lot in the early 1990s and actually that decline lines up really closely to HIV infections at that time, according to Emily Oster.

– Caiqing Jin (Kelly)

Source:Ted Talk