After 25 years of distinguished service to our organization, Dr. Karen Murphy, Facing History’s Director of International Strategy, will join our partner organization High Resolves as CEO of an initiative called The Human Responsibility Accelerator. Stay tuned for news of our deepening partnership with High Resolves. Today we invited Karen to share a bit of what she has learned in more than two decades at Facing History.
With partnerships all over the world, Facing History is a global organization. Learn about what Facing History looks like in China from Rajesh Kripalani and Georgia Barker, two program fellows teaching in Shanghai and Beijing, respectively. Facing History Fellows are Facing History teachers who act as liaisons between the program team and the work being done in other countries and regions such as China. Kripalani is the Teaching And Learning Coach, Head of Social Studies and IB History, Global Politics and Theory of Knowledge Coordinator at Fudan International School. Barker is a social studies teacher at Tsinghua International School.
Recent headlines about Brexit have kicked up dust on old conflicts in Northern Ireland, yet tensions began rising months ago when four Catholic families were kicked out of their homes. They had lived peacefully in a social housing experiment in Belfast where both Catholics and Protestants were housed side by side. But when a shadowy loyalist (Protestant) gang directly threatened them, there was no guarantee of safety. Ultimately, the victims were moved out, resurfacing the the age-old issue: the expulsion, "ethnic cleansing," and intimidation that forces anyone deemed to represent "the other" out of certain areas, while keeping those areas as the exclusive possession of one "group."
Teachers all over the world are grappling with how to address today's divisive climate with their students. The same is true for Petr Sokol and Roman Anyz, trainers at the Terezin Initiative Institute in the Czech Republic. They have been partnering with Facing History to teach about democracy, the Holocaust, and the treatment of the Roma while facing uncertain political times in their country today. Sokol and Anyz, who is also a middle school teacher, share how they are helping teachers consider how they can encourage young people in the Czech Republic to think critically about what is happening around them. New concerns over populism rising in the country makes this task feel more important than ever.
Last month, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced that the US would be withdrawing from the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) by the end of 2018. Understanding the implications of this is important for students in today’s world, particularly as the nation’s dynamics with international institutions continue to shift. Discussing these events prepare our students for engaged citizenship. Bringing the world to the classroom can also motivate students and help them become effective and satisfied in the long term.
The stories are heartbreaking and chilling. In the first few weeks of 2017, identity-based hatred appears to be pervasive and on the rise. Two immigrants from India were shot in Kansas allegedly by a man who confronted them about their visa status; historical Jewish cemeteries were vandalized in St. Louis and Philadelphia; and, in Rockville, Maryland, a Jewish couple, who put up a Black Lives Matter banner outside their home, received a threatening note with the word “Jew” written in German and the ominous promise of “mayhem.” On January 29th, six people were killed and 19 were injured in a mass-shooting at a mosque in Quebec City. The victims included fathers, an academic, and local businessmen. They were in the midst of evening prayers.
The epitaphs for 2016 are coming out by the hour. It was the worst of years, some are saying, in the midst of uncertain times. Of course, at midnight on the 31st, the challenges we face won’t go away. The only way that 2017 will be better is if we make it so.
South Africans, like many people in the United States right now, and many in Colombia and the United Kingdom, have been thinking deeply about who we are, where we came from, and where we are heading as a country. In 2016, South Africans also woke up, one morning, to a changing shift in the political landscape—a view we had become accustomed to. What seemed unlikely once was now before our eyes. Local government elections saw major cities across the country, including Pretoria, the seat of government, now in the hands of the opposition. Where once race divided our votes, now the need for an accountable, honest, and committed government has begun to unite us.
In this increasingly globalized world, we can learn a lot from each other. That's why in July, Facing History facilitated a weeklong Advanced International Seminar hosted by North Shore Country Day School. Teachers from Northern Ireland, South Africa, England, Mexico, France, and the United States gathered in Winnetka, Illinois to discuss the issues and challenges educators struggle with and to exchange best practices.
Karen Murphy, Facing History's international director, recently shared her experience on the Global Learning blog, hosted by Education Week and the Asia Society. Read about the eight lessons she learned from facilitating the Advanced International Seminar.
April is Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month. Throughout the month, we’ll be featuring stories on Facing Today that reflect upon genocide throughout history. Hearing personal stories of survival can be a powerful learning experience. In this post, we’re shining a light on the inspirational stories of two genocide survivors.