What’s excellent global education, and where is it happening in Pennsylvania? - Generocity Philly

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Mar. 9, 2021 10:22 am

What’s excellent global education, and where is it happening in Pennsylvania?

"Thinking globally requires wrestling with the way injustice and inequity stemming from historic exclusion and patterns of colonization is embedded in the very structures of every local place," says columnist Eric Hartman.

People gathered at the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing for Global Fusion Weekend.

(Photo by M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)

Editor’s note: We’re pleased to publish the first in what will be a regular monthly column on global issues, local insight and action by Eric Hartman, the executive director of the Haverford College Center for Peace and Global Citizenship. Hartman is the cofounder of the Community-based Global Learning Collaborative and vice president of the Pennsylvania Council for International Education (PACIE) and, since 2019, has been a frequent guest columnist at Generocity — writing and co-writing (with Stephanie Keene) a number posts that have made it onto our “best read” list.


Only a generation ago, global education almost exclusively referred to going abroad for learning experiences. Today, many educators and community organizers understand that quality education includes capacity for global thinking and civic engagement from one’s home community.

The earth’s ecology is profoundly interdependent; people have always migrated around the world. Making progress on environmental sustainability or equity and inclusion requires locally situated understanding and action, within an understanding of global patterns, structures, and history.

With thanks to Generocity, I’m beginning a monthly series on opportunities Pennsylvanians and our neighbors have to advance insight and action that address the global challenges of justice, inclusion, and sustainability. We are inescapably interdependent — ecologically, geographically, and historically. And Philadelphia and Pennsylvania, along with many of the upcoming events profiled below, embody that interdependence.

Philadelphia fancies itself as the birthplace of US Democracy; another way to say that is — our region is one important cradle of contestation. It’s from this city and region that the question of who is fully recognized — who is a citizen — has been debated continuously. As explored in the new Netflix series Amend, the Constitution signed at Independence Hall only contained the fledgling seed of the effort we must work to unleash — liberty and justice for all.

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Philly’s status in a cosmopolitan colony and as an Atlantic port city during the slave trade makes it a place of global intersection and injustice from the outset. Of course, indigenous understanding preceded and informed the Colonial Era, with Benjamin Franklin building his insights about federation by observing the Iroquois.

Our region’s extraordinary injustices and diverse liberatory struggles always have global connections.

Thinking globally requires wrestling with the way injustice and inequity stemming from historic exclusion and patterns of colonization is embedded in the very structures of every local place. Before the last hundred years of systemic racism, Octavius Catto was gunned down for trying to vote in 1871. Catto is one in a long line of Black leaders fighting for liberation, like Richard Allen and Absalom Jones, who co-founded the Free African Society here in 1787. Our region’s extraordinary injustices and diverse liberatory struggles always have global connections.

The first degree-granting Historically Black College and University in the United States, Lincoln University, was founded outside the city in 1854 — and would grant an undergraduate degree to Kwame Nkrumah in 1939, before Nkrumah went on to become Ghana’s first president and a noted Pan-Africanist.  In the early 1900s, Irish and South Asians living in the area collaborated to act against British Imperialism around the world.

That’s the event I’m featuring this month, Remixing Revolution with Philly’s South Asian American Development Archive: Irish, South Asians — and Anti-British-Imperialism — From Philadelphia. It takes place Tuesday, March 16 from 5 – 6 p.m. via Zoom, though free registration must be completed by 4 p..m on Friday, March 12. I’m excited to learn from “Revolution Remix,” SAADA’s walking and sound tour of historic Philadelphia through the lens of South Asian American history. The tour is accompanied by a comprehensive set of lesson plans developed with the support of the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage.

That several liberatory movements have connection to our region does not excuse the horrific violences we have perpetrated and continue to perpetrate. We have work to do. Every day, there are opportunities to advance inclusion, like this current effort migrant rights groups are advancing to ensure access to drivers licenses for all people living and working in the state: Driving PA Forward.

Below you’ll find more Philadelphia and Pennsylvania events at the intersection of local-global connections, justice, inclusion, and sustainability. Please share your events, news, and updates with me through the PA Council for International Education form linked there, so I can include them in these lists moving forward.

Upcoming in PA Global Education, Inclusivity, and Sustainability:

Next month’s column: The intersection of global education and sustainability. 

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PACIE works to ensure that every Pennsylvanian experiences a high-quality global education that builds inclusive communities and expands opportunities. Check out: 

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