Motivating Change


This past weekend, I had the opportunity to participate in the Global Work Day sponsored by http://www.350.org . The goal of this event is to promote sustainability across the globe and to bring the global Carbon Dioxide counts down to 350 parts per million. On 10/10/10, 7347 groups in 188 countries participated in event s including park restoration, beach clean-ups, planting community gardens, sponsoring bike rides, and other activities. At USD, my students and I were part of the group that helped clean and restore trails in the Tecolate Canyon –the area adjacent to our campus. Let me note that I’ve always been impressed with USD students’ commitment to philanthropy and community service. Without a doubt, the students I have the privilege of teaching and working with exhibit the type of participatory citizenship that we want in society. One of the unanticipated, but very welcomed, lessons learned is that our students want to make a difference –in fact, they often will not show up for particular events a second time if they did not feel their labor, time, and efforts were needed the first time around. The unique part of our university, however, is that our students, although generous, don’t always understand the broader social and political implications of the work that they do. As a teacher, I wonder, what can I do to better educate my students about their connection to a broader global community? As I watched the pictures come in from across the globe on 10/10/10 –I wondered if our students knew what it felt like to be part of a global movement. How do we as teachers, activists, and communities motivate our youth to become better educated about their actions and contributions?