Abedon, David [faculty advisor, College of Environment and Life Science]
development; education; international; global issues
Global warming, terrorism, and nuclear proliferation are perhaps three of the most daunting security challenges being faced by the United States today. How to meet these threats is the subject of endless political debate in our society, yet too often the root causes of these threats are overlooked. While the Western world is certainly responsible for the majority of emissions that contribute to global warming, it will not be long until developing nations, led by industrial powers such as China, begin to take on a more significant role in contributing to this problem. Similarly, it is these same developing nations that are most at risk from the effects that continued global warming promises to bring about. It is these poor and underdeveloped nations of the world, whose citizens are forced to live a life of squalor, that become breeding grounds for political extremists and terrorists. Clearly, it should be the policy of the developed nations of the world to intervene more aggressively in order to fulfill both the moral obligation of eliminating poverty and the political obligation of creating a more stable political landscape across the board. My project is focused on education regarding international development work. Our society as a whole is painfully unaware of the conditions in developing nations, and lacks an understanding of how those conditions affect our everyday lives. More emphasis must be placed on educating our students as to how the actions of our nation affect the lives of those abroad, and vice versa. Understanding these conditions can help to foster the political will desperately needed in order to bring about lasting improvements in the impoverished nations of Africa, South America, and Asia. My research has focused, in particular, on development education in high school curricula. By researching development education programs already in existence, interviewing educators, and surveying hundreds of high school students from throughout Rhode Island, I have attempted, through this project, to gain an understanding of the level of knowledge high school students possess about global issues and to find ways to further improve their understanding. Since bringing about change in the field international development requires both education and action, I have also planned a fundraiser, the proceeds of which will be donated to Partners in Health, a non-profit based in Boston, MA that partners with poor communities to develop the tools to combat disease and poverty. Through a combination of education and action, conditions in poor nations can slowly be improved, ultimately benefiting all aspects of our global community.