Invest in the Future with Innovation and Sustainability Training

 

Fever, chills, headache, sweats, fatigue, nausea, vomiting. To most people, this collection of symptoms sounds like the flu. And yet for the 3.2 billion people at risk, this could also mean a much deadlier diagnosis: malaria. For this reason, among many others, malaria is one of the most difficult subjects to address in terms of public health crises. Most people in malaria affected areas expect to wind up with the disease at some point in their lives. Additionally, many of the solutions posed to rural communities for fighting the disease have been short-sighted, unsustainable, and ridden with financial challenges. As we educate the next generation of new global citizens, how do we guide our students to seek out and support sustainable, innovative solutions malaria and other public health crises?

A Brief History of Malaria Solutions

Many are not aware that malaria was once a major threat in the swamp-ridden, southeast United States. In a land that is humid and warm for over half of the year, mosquitoes carrying malaria posed a major threat to the average American. The United States was able to eradicate malaria through a comprehensive pesticide program centered around now-infamous DDT. Talk about an unsustainable solution!

Now, Malaria is found in far fewer places in the world, with its primary area of impact on the African continent. Solutions offered thus far focus on three primary methods of prevention: systematic indoor pesticide treatments, anti-malarial medications and insecticide-treated bed nets. Unfortunately, none of these solutions are without their challenges. Pesticide treatments (like DDT) often have unwanted environmental or health challenges. Anti-malarial medications can be poor in quality in unregulated countries, and in many cases, counterfeit medications are passed off as the real thing. Finally, bed nets have become more widely used as fishing nets to alleviate the more pressing challenge of hunger rather than used as intended to keep mosquitoes at bay.

Clearly, the lack of economic development in many countries can be one of the greatest factors affecting malaria eradication. Solutions must be cost-effective, require a low level of education for the average participant, last long-term, and include an innovative public health campaign element to educate through print and non-print media. Solutions developed so far have reduced the rate of infection and death, but have not eradicated malaria. This is where our students come in.

Teaching Innovation and Sustainability

In an education system that focuses more and more on standardized testing and student compliance, we have a commitment as educators and as citizens of the world to prepare our future leaders to tackle this kind of challenge.  With that being said, teaching innovation and sustainability requires a very different pedagogical style than the drill and kill approach of multiple choice testing. In order to defeat global challenges like malaria, we must invest in the future of our students’ educational experience. So, how do we teach innovation and sustainability? We recommend these 5 tips for teachers to focus on:

  1. Encourage students to question the process. In order for students to question the existing solutions to complex problems (and therefore develop better ones), they must first feel comfortable questioning processes in the classroom. Questions in the classroom should not be seen as a lack of compliance, but as a quest for understanding–encourage them!
  2. Teach and brainstorm with the end in mind. Encourage students to use systems-thinking practices such as effects chains, mind maps, and flowcharts. By mapping out all possible outcomes of a potential solution, students are more likely to find the flaws in their thinking.
  3. Think like a collaborator, not like a problem-solver. This may seem counter-intuitive, but no one should walk into a community with solutions in hand. Sustainable problem-solving requires collaboration across areas of expertise, cultural affiliations, political stances, and much more. Students must learn to think like collaborators in order to create the best possible solutions to global challenges.
  4. Always ask a local. Connected to tip #3, solutions are most often unsustainable when they don’t take into account the daily experience of those living with the challenge. Students should get in the habit of collaborating with those closest to the issues and taking their ideas, solutions, and lives into account.
  5. Research the Solutions You Support! It’s possible that you will at some point stumble upon a really great solution being carried out by an existing organization. If this is the case, you should support their work–after asking a few questions. When they support a global solution, students should always ask about the sustainability of the organization’s financial model, implementation model, and more.

For more thoughts on how to teach innovation and sustainability, join us this Thursday, April 23 at 5PST for #globaledchat. For more information on malaria, join the conversation on Twitter by following @WorldMalariaDay2015.

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Happy Earth Day from the New Global Citizen Team

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For the past 44 years, the world has celebrated the Earth. Today, there are more than a billion people across taking some sort of positive and “green” stride for our planet.

But did you know it all started with 20 million people across the U.S. in the ’70s who began to rally, advocate and community educate for the protection of the environment? (Read more here on Nat Geo about Earth Day got started and its impact!)

This year’s theme for Earth Day revolves around the idea of building green cities. What does this mean? It means that this year more than half the world lives in an cities, and with an ever-growing of “urban population” – people living in cities – our impact on the land, the ozone layer, the air we breathe, the rain and sunlight that hydrates our vegetation becomes critical, as it has become over the last decade. (You can read more here about this year’s theme on Earth Day Org!).

As a New Global Citizen, there are many things you can to today to alleviate your and your peers’ impact on our planet. From educating to advocating, whether at the local or global scale.

At the local level, you may raise awareness about littering on campus. Bring it up to the administrators and discuss the importance of a clean area, or encourage your friends to do better. Or, perhaps your city doesn’t have a recycling system…or perhaps your household doesn’t have a recycling system.

On the global level, you may raise awareness about NGC’s partners from A Ban Against Neglect (ABAN) in Accra, Ghana, where majority of our electronic waste ends up littering the streets. Women in Accra with ABAN are reversing the effect of poverty and waste in their lives by taking the trash and in turn turning it into marketable goods! That’s a plus for the Earth, the economy and women empowerment! Learn more here!

Or, on a more local level for those in Arizona or specifically in the Tuscon-area, you can partner up with Douglaprieta where community members are taught how to cultivate their vegetation and garden in order to alleviate the families’ dependency on government-assistance! Learn more here. 

Click here to learn more about sustainability-based global projects you may take a part in!