AAG Program Increases Mutual Understanding Among Youth Around the World
August 28, 2013
The Association of American Geographers undertook the My Community, Our Earth Global Connections and Exchange Program with the goal to enhance mutual understanding between youth in the United States and their counterparts overseas. The overarching goal was to empower youth and their teachers to increase environmental, geographic, technological and cultural literacy. This was achieved through facilitation of real-time and offline exchanges and collaboration around youth-led mapping projects on the themes of Environment, especially Climate Change and the Green Economy, Food Security and Vulnerability to Hazards (www.aag.org/gce).
Over a 20-month period, we trained 279 teachers in 34 US States, Puerto Rico, Bolivia, Ghana, Nicaragua, and the Philippines, to use social networking, online mapping and the digital library of resources from the My Community, Our Earth: Geographic Learning for Sustainable Development Program, particularly new collaborative activity lesson templates developed specifically for this project, on the four key themes. School-to-college Geography Alliances in Alabama, Colorado, Michigan, Puerto Rico, Texas and Washington were engaged to feature educational pathways, which receive additional support by the National Geographic Society Education Foundation. Diversity Ambassadors reached out to more than 8,500 students in underserved schools in Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Maryland, Washington, DC and Georgia to participate in exchanges and to encourage international and science careers.
Educators were supported to interactively incorporate the core GCE themes into their curriculum and learning tools in their classrooms, to engage in international electronic dialogue and themed discussion exchanges and to facilitate the leadership development of an estimated 26,000 secondary school students worldwide. Youth teams, guided by their teachers and mentors, designed and implemented community-based projects based on the MyCOE inquiry-driven framework, inspired from, motivated by and shared with their international exchange colleagues. A total of 513 new youth-led projects were conducted through this initiative, which have been uploaded to a new Geoportal built upon the leading GIS software company Esri's ArcGIS Online platform into a mapped Youth Leadership Project Gallery at www.aag.org/mycoegallery.
The program showcased the global exchanges and youth projects at key international events, including the UN’s 20-year anniversary conference of the Rio Summit for Sustainable Development in Brazil in June 2012, special celebration of Earth Day in April 2012 and 2013 and a MyCOE GCE Digital Video conference featuring a poster competition as well as live presentations from international GCE classrooms during the 2013 Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers in Los Angeles, California. A digital scrapbook recorded some of the event highlights at www.aag.org/MyCOE_DVC.
The program evaluation demonstrated high satisfaction and the achievement of core national educational standards. Participants gained more knowledge about the main environmental themes as well as a greater understanding of youth in other parts of the world.