Featured Resource: Global Footprints

In many countries, the first of May is a day of celebration whether it be the Beltane Fire Festival in Scotland, Walpurgisnacht in Germany, or Lei Day in Hawaii, traditional celebrations with religious or pagan roots. Across the world, though, millions of people will come together to celebrate International Workers’ Day, or Labour Day, to commemorate the social and economic achievements of the working class and labour movement. This may be an apt time to consider issues surrounding globalisation and our Featured Resource for May is, therefore, Global Fooprints.

Started ten years ago by the Humanities Education Centre (HEC) in Tower Hamlets, London, the original Global Footprints project provided primary schools with ideas and activities that aimed to empower all participants, but particularly the young, to take steps towards a sustainable future. Working with their local Development Education Centre, participating schools had access to a range of exciting and stimulating activities that addressed issues of global citizenship and sustainable development and provided an opportunity to explore the social, global and ecological impacts of lifestyle choices and issues of global interdependence.

For children, there are pages that give factual information about sustainability and games that reinforce the points made; the quiz raises questions about, for example, equality, diversity, the environment, bullying and the legitimacy of war in an age-appropriate way.  HEC have also created a number of 'webquests' that help children to research issues like homelessness,  refugees, water and health, Fair Trade and local democracy and to create powerpoints, web pages, animation and videos on their work.

For teachers, there are classroom activities and National Curriculum Numeracy and Literacy initiatives under the topics of war, energy, fair trade, transport, waste & recycling along with a school Global Footprint audit that explores ways in which schools can examine, measure and reduce their impact on the environment, resulting in a footprint that takes into account wider school community issues. According to HEC ‘A school might consider, for example, the effects of an anti-bullying strategy on the social development of the school, or the implications of purchasing fair trade products on sustainable development and justice for producer communities in the south.’

Global Footprints has international partners who seek to empower some of their country’s most excluded and vulnerable children. They include a street children programme in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Young Photographers of Guatemala and young Saharawi living in refugee camps in the Algerian desert.

HEC admit that ‘the concept of the “Global Footprint” presented difficulties in terms of measurement,' but it allowed them 'to use a symbolic rather than quantifiable tool for measuring and comparing the effects of attitudes and behaviour as a starting point for change.'

Resources are available in English, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish.

The website might be used as a teaching resource for Geography, PHSE or Citizenship teaching at Key Stages 1&2 and certainly as a starting point for examining issues such as globalisation, sustainability, equality and the environment.

Recent news items on Development Education:

Guardian article, 29 April 2008, 'A school for every child'
Telegraph article, 29 April 2008, 'Climate change will hit vulnerable children'
Independent article, 29 April 2008, 'Climate change could force 1 billion from their homes by 2050'
Guardian article, 25 April 2008, 'The climate change movement must be inclusive'
Independent article, 21 April 2008, 'Forget carbon: you should be checking your water footprint'
Education Guardian article, 'A change of perspective'

Other Development  Education resources on the Real Histories Directory:

Global and Anti-Racist Perspectives within the Primary Curriculum
Christian Aid - Simulation Games
Global Eye
Global Dimension
World Education Development Group
SchoolNet Global
Oxfam Cool Planet
Development Education Project

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