Overview and Objectives
In this new era, people’s actions constantly — if often unwittingly —affect the lives of others living far away. Globalisation offers great opportunities, but at present its benefits are very unevenly distributed while its costs are borne by all.
No shift in the way we think or act can be more critical than this: we must put people at the centre of everything we do. No calling is more noble, and no responsibility greater, than that of enabling men, women and children, in cities and villages around the world, to make their lives better. Only when that begins to happen will we know that globalisation is indeed becoming inclusive, allowing everyone to share its opportunities.
Thus the central challenge we face today is to ensure that globalisation becomes a positive force for all the world’s people, instead of leaving billions of them behind in squalor. Inclusive globalisation must be built on the great enabling force of the market, but market forces alone will not achieve it. It requires a broader effort to create a shared future, based upon our common humanity in all its diversity.
In the context of such a demand, youth are moving from the margins to the centre. They are becoming subjects in the world, rather than the objects of the policies of others. Building leadership and a sense of citizenship in the world enables students to participate and make their voices heard.
In the following suggested Learning Activity, students practice using their voices in the interest of a peaceful future. Building vision and imagination, students indirectly prepare themselves to be leaders in the realisation a peaceful future. Although this Unit can be adapted for all ages and level of student, it is recommended for students aged fourteen and older.
Learning objectives. (To see more about these objectives, go to Teacher as Learner section.)
Materials and Resources
This activity is called Imaging Possible Futures and is centred on using imagination to free the mind and envision possibilities for the future of the planet. Students should be reminded that in this exercise, there are no right or wrong answers. The ability to imagine alternative possibilities is a useful skill in many school subjects such as mathematics, science, writing, and the arts. This exercise invites students to explore and share their ideas without the pressure of having to get it right. Because peace education aims to connect learning rather than segment or separate subjects, this activity should be introduced in the context of other learning in the class.
Step 1: Explain to students that the class will be entering the world of 2030 by way their imagination. To get comfortable in the imaging mode, ask students to choose a personal memory to re-experience from their recent past or from their early childhood. The memory should be a good one, and one that they enjoy reliving. Ask them to think about all the details of the setting including the people involved, the sights, the smells, the sounds and the feel of the place. Students can make some notes or sketches about the memory if necessary.
Step 2: After a few minutes of individual imagining, student should choose a partner and share some of the details of the memory. They should share all the details of the environment and what is happening in the memory. They need not focus on describing why it is a good memory, only on describing it so that their partner can also feel what it was like. Each partner takes a turn.
Step 3: Now it is time to move to the future, the year 2030. First, ask students to focus on peace. What would peace look like, what would it feel like? How would a peaceful society operate? What is their personal hope for peace? Ask student to think about peace and write down a goal statement that expresses their personal hopes for a peaceful future. Statements should be two or three sentences long.
Step 4: Next, ask students to "remember the future" in the same way they remembered past memories. Guide them through the exercise saying, "Keeping in mind your goal statements, allow your mind to envision the world in which your hopes have been realised. You are an observer, stepping into the peaceful year 2030 to look and see what is there. What do you find?"
If it helps, students can imagine that they are a reporter and must write an article for a local paper. This story should illuminate aspects of the society that the student feels make it a peaceful one. For instance, what are people doing – the children, the elderly, men, women, young adults? What kind of housing is there? What do families look like? What do buildings and structures look like? How would they describe the physical environment? What is the government like? How are local decisions made and carried out? How do people travel or make connections across long distances? How do people of different ages learn things? How are local and long-distance conflicts and differences approached and handled? Is anyone playing? How do they play? What kinds of entertainment do people enjoy? These are just some suggested questions.
Remember, students are not trying to predict a realistic or probable world of 2030 in this exercise. They are envisioning possible alternative futures based on their hopes and fantasies about peace and justice. Encourage students not to get stuck on thinking, "but this could never happen…" and instead let go of what they think is possible in order to dream.
Students should record their observations.
Step 5: Organise students into groups of four to discuss what they see. Students should stay in the future present (still observing in the year 2030) while describing what they see to classmates. Students should listen carefully to each other and ask questions only to clarify what the speaker has said. Give students time to discuss their various visions.
Step 6: Finally, in small groups, students can create a newsprint sheet that depicts their group’s vision of the year 2030. This process can be left largely to individual groups. They can create one collective vision in the group or represent their separate ideas on the paper.
Step 7: Newsprint pages should be presented to the class, still speaking from the present of 2030, and posted so that all can see. Once all the groups have presented, discuss commonalties and differences among student visions.
Step 8: Invite students to return to the present. If desired, continue discussion of the possible futures in terms of what students could do in the present to begin to prepare or build their imagined future of peace.
Step 9: Assess this activity with the students. See below.
NOTE: The visioning part of this exercise could also be conducted in small groups. In larger classes, working in small groups may be advisable.
This Learning Activity is adapted from "A Workbook for Imagining a World Without Weapons," in Boulding, Elise, Building a Global Civic Culture: Education for an Interdependent World, Syracuse University Press, 1990, pp. 172-176. She also cites Warren Ziegler’s Mindbook for Imaging a World Without Weapons published by Ziegler’s Futures Invention Associates.
• What part of this activity worked for you (or what did you like about this activity)?
• What aspect of your work in this unit pleases you most?
The following is a sample Dialogue Sheet:
Please do not put your name on this paper.
Name of Activity: Critical Conversation
What did you enjoy about this activity?
If you were the teacher, what would you change about this activity?
Please describe below three things you learned today.
Please share any other thoughts, feelings, or ideas you have about today’s activity.