1 Universal Values, 2 Global Understanding, 3 Excellence, 4 Service to Humanity

Coexistence Education
Building a Better World

Unit of Study: Our Planetary Home and Place in the Universe
Topic: Man's Relation to the Universe / a World Perspective
Level: Primary and Secondary

Children of today live in a world of change. It is necessary, therefore to present the basic concepts of global learning at an early age. Usually a young child's awareness of where s/he is, in time and space, is limited to the immediate environment. The first step is to broaden the student's limited concept of the world. We begin this process by sparking the student's curiosity and imagination. Open with a simple discussion of the following question: " Where are we?" This kindles an interest in aquiline further information, which involves research, listing of resources, recording information, gathering materials, and sharing of ideas and information.

Focusing on the World will build a better World.

Where Are We?






















House #





These topics can be expanded to meet the needs of students on the primary or intermediate level. On the higher levels, the units of study include greater understanding of astronomy, geography,ecology, climate, human life, history etc. Types of activities might include drawing, listening to music and writing lyrics, writing stories, poems, and plays, giving oral reports, and making a video of the completed activities related work. Focus on the World.


Rationale: Taken from Robert Muller's book Genesis

In order to prepare our children properly for tomorrow's world, we must discern among the agitations and headlines of the day those trends and tendencies which are fundamental to our time and put aside whatever is accidental, secondary, ephemeral and anachronistic.

What strikes us most in recent years is that, since the last world war, humankind has entered a totally new era of history, perhaps even of evolution. During this period man has advanced dramatically into the infinitely large and the infinitely small. More scientific progress has been achieved in the last thirty years than during the entire previous history of mankind. Instruments, linked by instant communication to our planet, have been sent farther and farther away into the universe. Humans have set foot on the moon and have returned safely to earth. Outer space is being used for unprecedented systems of worldwide communication and study of the earth's resources and physical conditions. More than two thousand satellites and space objects are circling around the earth. Transportation has expanded from land and sea to the atmosphere, with ever larger and faster planes. Man has reached with his tools the abyss of the seas. We have witnessed the harnessing of atomic energy, the birth of electronics, of cybernetics, of laser technology and the unlocking of many mysteries of the infinitely small. Microbiology has opened up new exhilarating and frightening vistas of scientific advance with the synthesis of genes. Never on this planet has there been such intensive research and discovery by so many scientists in so many lands.

The Industrial Revolution and its recent scientific and technological acceleration have had far-reaching consequences for humankind. The first effect was an unprecedented improvement in living conditions on our planet. This improvement is spreading progressively to the entire world despite regrettable discrepancies and delays.

Length of life has increased, reaching more than seventy years in many affluent societies. Even in India life expectancy has increased from forty to fifty years in two decades. Diseases which caused great epidemics not long ago have been wiped out. Gigantic efforts are being made to attack the remaining principle causes of early death. Thus humanity's death rate has been reduced from 17 per 1,000 in 1950-55 to 13 per 1,000 in 1965- 77. The world is able to feed more than one million additional people a week. During the last twenty years more than six hundred million newcomers have been added to the world's literate population.

The goods placed at the command of people for their sustenance and enjoyment have reached phenomenal quantities in some societies. Thus, to sustain a person in the United States over an average life span, 56 million gallons of water, 37,000 gallons of gasoline, 51/2 tons of meat, 51/2 tons of wheat, 9 tons of milk and cream are required. In the poorer parts of the world the level of consumption is only a fraction of such figures. But there, too, the amount of goods placed at the disposal of the individual is on the increase. The scientific and technical revolution which started two hundred years ago has spread to most continents and it will encompass, in the not too distant future, our entire planet.

Its second effect has been the advent of an entirely new period in world history, namely, the era of mass phenomena due to the multiplication of human lives. Lower death rates, longer lives and better lives have brought about the well-known accelerated growth of the human race.

People on our planet have increased from 2.5 billion in 1951, when the UN published the first world statistics, to 4.5 billion in 1980 and to 5.5 billion in 1996. We will be more than 6 billion people in the year 2000 and a child being born today might live in a world of 8 billion at the age of sixty. It is as if the child were to witness the landing of several billion more people on this planet during his lifetime.

The statistics published by the United Nations and its specialized agencies show a doubling or tripling of most world data during the past twenty years. World industrial production has tripled. The volume of world exports has quadrupled. Agricultural production has increased 1.7 times. The phenomenal growth in the production of certain commodities is illustrated by petroleum, which has increased 5 times, plastic, which has increased 15 times, aluminum 5 times, cement 4 times, crude steel 2.8 times, motor vehicles 2.7 times. There were only 11 cities of more than one million inhabitants in 1923; there are 160 today and there will be more than 300 in the year 2000, 40 of which will have more than two million inhabitants.

While the population increase is greatest in the poorer countries and the consumption explosion greatest in the developed ones, the Industrial Revolution will continue its world-wide spread. Higher population figures will then be accompanied by higher consumption everywhere, yielding staggering results. This is the new world into which we have entered. These are the real causes of the various crises which have lately beset our planet: pressures on the environment, on resources, the energy crisis, the food crisis, the urban crisis, and inflation.

The third effect has been the advent of an intricate and extremely dense network of world-wide interdependencies among societies which until recently were living in relative isolation from each other. Beyond nature's interdependencies which have always characterized our planet (the water cycle, the oxygen cycle, the carbon cycle, the nitrogen cycle, and many other internal links of the biosphere), the world has suddenly been seized in a rapidly growing web of man-made interdependencies Thousands of planes are constantly in the air, and at certain airports they sometimes wait in queues for the opening of an air channel. Thousand: of ships and trains are carrying huge quantities of goods from one country to another. Some seaports cannot catch up with the increase in world trade. International tourism, congresses, meetings, assistance and studies are mushrooming. Colossal transnational companies have a foot in many countries, combining money, labor, resources, and technologies across national boundaries on a world-wide scale, and taking the globe as a single market. They begin to dwarf many nations, thus opening yet another page in the history of power.

Those interdependencies have forced governments into new collective thinking and cooperative arrangements which would have been inconceivable only a few decades ago. The United Nations, as a result. has profoundly changed. The world organization, strengthened by thirty-two specialized agencies and world programs, is today concerned with practically every global problem on earth.

Through its world-wide data collection, studies and conferences- political, economic, social, scientific, cultural and environmental --- the United Nations has become the greatest observatory and warning system of planet Earth. Through it, governments are making an honest effort at cooperation in many fields, although such cooperation would warrant infinitely more heart, vision and generosity.

Under such dramatically changed circumstances, which deeply affect our lives, there is an urgent need for more global education. This is very important for the future of humanity. How can our children go to school and learn so much detail about the past, the geography and the administration of their countries and so little about the world, its global problems, its interdependencies, its future and its international institutions? People are astonished by the sudden emergence of global crises. They wonder how environmental deterioration could have developed to the point of endangering life on this planet. They wonder why there is an energy crisis which had not been foreseen by their governments (but had been foreseen by the United Nations, which convened, as early as 1961, the first world conference on new sources of energy). They ask themselves why bad crops in faraway countries should make the prices of the food on their tables shoot up and why there is a sudden world food shortage after so many years of agricultural surpluses (again nations had been warned of the danger by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization).

A child born today will be faced as an adult, almost daily, with problems of a global interdependent nature be it peace, food, the quality of life, inflation, or scarcity of resources. He will be both an actor and a beneficiary or a victim in the total world fabric, and he may rightly ask: " Why was I not warned? Why was I not better educated? Why did my teachers not tell me about these problems and indicate my behavior as a member of an interdependent human race?" It is, therefore the duty and the self-enlightened interest of governments to educate their children properly about the type of world in which they are going to live. They must inform the children of the actions the endeavors and the recommendations of their global organizations. They must be prepared to assume responsibility for the consequences of their actions and help in the care of several billion more fellow humans on earth. Many governments have begun to realize this. In 1974 they created a United Nations University located in Tokyo, with affiliates in many countries. In 1979 the UN General Assembly welcomed the decision by the government of Costa Rica to establish a University of Peace. Institutes for global education have sprung up, and the UN and UNESCO are convening meetings of educators to develop global curricula. In many countries, especially the United States, educators feel that this is a new educational trend whose time has come.

The United Nations and its specialized agencies have a wealth of data and knowledge on every conceivable world problem. This source must be systematically tapped by educators. Time is running short. Global events are moving fast. It would be more beneficial to teach children around the world to close their water faucets a few seconds earlier, and to conserve our resources, than to adopt intricate legislation or endlessly drill new holes in the ground. The world will be in great trouble and will not be able to solve its global problems if citizens are not taught properly from their earliest youth. This is a great new challenge, a new historical dimension, and thrilling objective for educators everywhere in the world.

Beyond the turmoil, the divisions and perplexities of our time, humanity is slowly but surely finding the ways, limits and new codes of behavior which will encompass all races, nations, religions and ideologies. It is the formulation of these new ethics which will be the great challenge for the new generation. It will concern not only man's material fate but also his mental and spiritual lives. The fulfillment of a human person's earthly destiny, of his happiness during his short span of life, of his right place in creation, depends in great degree on his comprehension of the total web of life and his personal part and comportment in it. Former Secretary General U Thant, a teacher, when discus5ing these problems, always came back to his fundamental belief that education held the keys to the future, and the mental fulfillment was superior to material life, moral qualities superior to mental qualities, and spiritual fulfillment superior to mental life. In a speech he made on his religious beliefs in Toronto in1966, he said:

"The law of love and compassion for all living creatures is again a doctrine to which we are all too ready to pay lip-service, however, if it is to become a reality, it requires a process of education, a veritable meant renaissance. Once it has become a reality, national as well as international problems will fall into perspective and become easier for solve. Wars and conflicts, too, will then become a thing of the past, because wars begin in the minds of men, and in those minds love and compassion would have built the defenses of peace. "

In his farewell address to the United Nations in December 1971, he said:

" ... l have certain priorities in regard to virtues and human values. An ideal man, or an ideal woman, is one who is endowed with four attributes four qualities --- physical, intellectual, moral and spiritual qualities. Of course it is very rare to find a human being who is endowed with all these qualities but, as far as priorities are concerned, I would attach greater importance to intellectual qualities over physical qualities. I would attach still greater importance to moral qualities over intellectual qualities. It is far from my intention to denigrate intellectualism, but I would attach greater importance to moral qualities or moral virtues over intellectual virtues -- moral qualities like love, compassion, understanding, tolerance. this philosophy of live and let live', the ability to understand the other persons point of view, which are the key to all great religions. And above all I would attach the greatest importance to spiritual values, spiritual qualities. I deliberately avoid using the term 'religion'. I have in mind the spiritual virtues, faith in oneself, the purity of ones inner self which to me is the greatest virtue of all. With this approach, with this philosophy, with this concept alone, will we be able to fashion the kind of society we want the society which was envisaged by the founding fathers of the United Nations."

Yes, the global education must transcend material, scientific and intellectual achievements and reach deliberately into the moral and spiritual spheres. Man has been able to extend the power of his hand with incredible machines, of his eyes with telescopes and microscopes of his ears with telephones, radio and sonars, of his brain with computers and automation. He must now also extend his heart, his sentiments, his love and his soul to the entire human family, to the planet, to the stars. to the universe, to eternity and to God.

He must perceive his right, miraculous place in the splendor of God': creation. We must manage our globe so as to permit the endless stream of humans admitted to the miracle of life to fulfill their lives physically mentally, morally and spiritually as has never been possible before in our entire evolution. Global education must prepare our children for the coming of an interdependent, safe, prosperous, friendly, loving, happy, planetary age as has been heralded by all great prophets. The real, the great period of human fulfillment on planet Earth is only now about to begin. Global Education begins with world citizenship.




Copyright © 1998- The Council for Global Education.
These are views of the CGE. They can be used in conjunction with free membership to CGE with acknowledgment of the source.