Carlos Alberto Torres Keynotes Conference on Global Capacity Building By Joanie Harmon

UNESCO Chair in Global Learning and Global Citizenship Education shares perspectives on global citizenship education as alternative to xenophobia, violent extremism.

Carlos Alberto Torres, Distinguished Professor of Education at the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies and the UNESCO Chair in Global Learning and Global Citizenship Education (GCED), delivered the keynote to the first-ever Global Capacity-Building Workshop on Global Citizenship Education in Seoul on June 19. The conference was organized by Asian Pacific Centre of Education for International Understanding (APCEIU) under the auspices of UNESCO.

Torres, who directs the Paulo Freire Institute at UCLA, presented “Education 2030 and Fostering Global Citizenship Education.” Workshop participants were charged with designing training workshops on GCED specific to participants’ local contexts. UNESCO APCEIU is planning to oversee and advise post-workshop activities of participants and establish a human resources network for promotion of GCED in different regions.

Torres’ keynote address focused on GCED that honors the Global Commons as defined by three basic propositions: the protection of Earth as humanity’s only home; the idea that global peace is an intangible cultural good with immaterial value; and the need to find ways that people who are all equal can live within a democracy in an ever-expanding and diverse world, able to seek individual and cultural interests and maintaining the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

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Carlos Alberto Torres was appointed the inaugural UNESCO Chair in Global Learning and Global Citizenship Education in 2015, the first such chair in the UC system. Courtesy of Carlos Alberto Torres

“UNESCO is deeply committed to promote Global Citizenship Education in the defense of Global Commons,” says Torres. “Yet, most recently with the growing phenomena of violent extremism which undermines global citizenship education and unity and cohesion in society, many countries have requested that UNESCO offer directions of how education can help address violent extremism from all ideological and political origins.”

The workshop covers topics including peace education, human rights education, sustainable development education, and cultural diversity to prevention of violent extremism. Professor Torres joined an international cadre of educators, policy makers, and other experts, including Soo-Hyang Choi, director of the Division of Inclusion, Peace and Sustainable Development of UNESCO; Professor Swee-Hin Toh, University for Peace in Costa Rica; Professor Hyo-Je Cho, SungKongHoe University in Seoul; Mirian Vilela, executive director, Earth Charter Center for Sustainable Development in Costa Rica; and Lea Espallardo, resident senior artist-teacher, Philippine Educational Theater Association in Manila. The workshop is sponsored by Ministry of Education of and Asia Culture Center of Republic of Korea.

Professor Torres, who was appointed the inaugural UNESCO Chair in Global Learning and Global Citizenship Education in 2015, has been invited to an international meeting presented by UNESCO in New Delhi in September, to provide evidence-based research on violent extremism.

Professor Torres emphasizes the results of the Brexit vote as evidence of “the impact of immigration and globalization upon countries, families, and individuals.” However, he adds that a knee-jerk reaction to Brexit’s alleged veneer of racism should be examined more closely.

“It would be naïve and certainly dangerous to ignore that Brexit may empower nativists and rabid nationalism, undermining human rights, security and conflict resolution in the world’s systems,” he says. “Global citizenship education proposes an alternative to racist and xenophobic models of citizenship, as global commons invite dialogue across lines of difference, the promotion of a culture of peace and solidarity, and the universal protection of human rights, the environment, and life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Above: Carlos Alberto Torres, the inaugural UNESCO Chair in Global Learning and Global Citizenship Education, presented the keynote address at the first-ever Global Capacity-Building Workshop on Global Citizenship Education in Seoul this month, hosted by the Asian Pacific Centre of Education for International Understanding under the auspices of UNESCO.

Courtesy of Carlos Alberto Torres

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