12/12/2013 9:13:53 PM
Siena Students, Global Citizens
Monday, April 15, 2013
By Kristen Bossio '16
For the past eight years, students and faculty have gained a better understanding of what it means to be a global citizen by participating in the Siena College-Concordia University Globalization Conference. The annual two-day event brings together Siena students and faculty with their counterparts from Concordia University in Canada. Students from both institutions gave presentations and discussed their research.
“[The program] is a great opportunity because the world that you, the students, are living in is increasingly globalized,” said Professor of Political Science and Director of the Globalization Studies Program Jean Stern, Ph.D. “It impacts every facet of our lives: what we wear, what we do, the music we listen to.”
Executive Director of the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) Robert A. Freling started the conference, which was held in late March, with a keynote address. SELF is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. that works to bring solar energy solutions to rural villages. Stern said that the types of projects that Freling’s organization tackles tie directly into what Siena and Concordia are trying to achieve, adding that the theme of the conference always combines something environmental with the idea of social justice. This year’s theme was “The Future We Want: Sustainable Development and Social Justice.”
SELF has completed a variety of projects in 20 different countries since 1990. During his talk, Freling shared many eye-opening experiences that supported the conference’s theme. He witnessed people in western China flicking a switch to turn on a light bulb for the first time. He saw a school whose users had barely even heard of the Internet get computers. He preserved vital vaccines in a Brazilian rainforest reserve by installing solar-powered refrigerators and he introduced drip irrigation to a village in northern Nigeria, significantly increasing both their consumption and profit.
Students who participated in the Globalization Conference took the Introduction to Globalization course and worked in pairs to choose and research a topic that fit with this year’s theme. They were able to discuss issues and communicate with students from Concordia using video chat software. In the last three years, the students have met in person as well.
Eric Socha ’15 focused on renewable energy derived from solar and nuclear power. He and his partner, Jennifer DeMaria ’16, wanted to present two clean yet controversial energy sources, especially because the two sources have been debated so frequently in the last several years.
Socha took Introduction to Globalization to learn about how people in the world are connected. “I wanted to become more familiar with how these people impact my life and how I can impact their lives as well,” he said.
Siena College offers an interdisciplinary minor in Globalization Studies that requires both studying abroad and competency in a foreign language. Click here to learn more about Globalization Studies at Siena College.
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