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Georgia College’s 6th Annual Global Citizenship Symposium

Literacy, Learning, Leading: Education for a 21st Century World

This year’s symposium, held February 4-6, 2013,  featured speakers from the Georgia College campus, central Georgia region, and Harvard, Syracuse, and UNC Greensboro. Over the course of three days, 24 literacy events related to health, information, civic life, technology, and 21st century pedagogies attracted over 1500 participants.

Alex Wirth speaking with students

Alex Wirth speaking with students

Alex Wirth, Harvard sophomore used his presentation and handout, Building a Campaign for Change, to help audience members, 300 strong, think seriously about issues of personal importance and how to strategically think about making a difference as citizens who have the advantage of four or more university years. Wirth illustrated his campaign for change by speaking about the Presidential Youth Council he and others developed as well as a social media effort #bethegoodguys based on a Daily Show with John Stewart segment that documented the U.S. Congress desire to stop funding UNESCO. Several students reflected on Wirth’s keynote in a writing assignment by writing, “Alex Wirth left me feeling motivated to make a difference. Most times, when you leave a presentation, you are a bit confused…. This was not the case with his keynote address. When I left, the only questions that I was asking myself were about where I wanted to devote my efforts? How do I want to campaign for change.” Another wrote, “When leaving the symposium, I felt as though I was part of something big and that if I get involved in something that I am passionate about, I can make a change.”

John Saltmarsh, University of Massachusetts, Boston and Timothy Eatman conducted workshops for academic leaders – Pursuing the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification – and students – What does it mean to be a public scholar? John and Tim creatively shared their personal narratives relative to teaching democratic engagement and the time when their scholarship coalesced at the second evening keynote address, Journey to Politically Engaged Scholarship. Their stories of their respective learning, teaching, and interaction with students made for an enlightening and thought-provoking time.

Tim Eatman and John Saltmarsh

Tim Eatman and John Saltmarsh

Barbara Levin, UNC Greensboro, an advocate for creatively utilizing technology in the K-12 classroom, delivered the final symposium keynote and subsequently served on a panel with representatives from area schools, Teach for America, and the U.S. Department of Education 21st Century Community Learning Center grant program. Another panel, comprised of a principal, three teachers, and two 9th grade students, shared their integrated lesson unit entitled Campaign 2012 where mathematics, language arts, technology and social studies helped students not only follow the national campaign but create avatars and a virtual campaign. The third day concluded with a two-hour session that attracted community members including county commissioners and school board members. Called Are we Making Academic Progress in Baldwin County? The first hour’s panel included representatives from K-12, Georgia College and an afterschool program that engages 1,000 grade 3-12 youth. The second hour provided for breakout sessions that addressed health and fitness, workforce development, the literate American student, and race relations in the community and schools’ cultures.

Interspersed throughout the three days were student performances, Miss Electricity, by Katharyn Walat and Crisantemi, Puccini, and the documentary film, Race to Nowhere. Gregg Kaufman, GC’s ADP Coordinator stated, “This year’s symposium was unprecedented for a number of reasons. Georgia College’s new president, Steve Dorman, attended events on all three days, the four college deans and many academic chairpersons, local elected leaders, and a former state senator joined the hundreds of students who explored literacy in its many forms and the symposium directly related to the university’s Quality Enhancement Plan goal of building a culture of engaged learning.”

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