Welcome to the 8th Grade Humanities Global Issues Wiki.

Students from 8th grade Humanities have joined the Global Issues Network in which they are challenged to help solve the major problems facing the world today. Visit the 8th Grade Humanities Blog for more information on our project!

Students can be encouraged to think systemically about real issues while also taking action to improve the human condition. This approach involves collaboration rather than competition, where students assume leadership of their own programme. Their network should promote both face-to-face conferences and on-going communication via the latest technologies.” http://www.earcos.org/gin2008/gin2.html

SAS Pudong is focusing on the following global issues:
  • Massive step-up in the fight against poverty
  • Ensuring peacekeeping, and conflict prevention and combating terrorism
  • Education for all
  • Ending the digital divide
  • Addressing international labor and migration rules

The Silhouette of the World

by Kyle Sansom
You wake up from your soft cozy bed
To the shower your mother said
The hot water flows endlessly soothing every need
Getting dressed quickly to breakfast you proceed
Chocolate puffs clink and clank into your bowl
Your hunger you cannot control

The T.V. flickers to life, awakening from his deep rest
You flip through the channels clearly unimpressed
Bored and tired, perched upon your chair, crunching away at your cereal
Listening to the news you hear of disturbing material
A child lies cold and alone in the darkest of the night
With no one to tuck him in and hold him tight

He shivers in fear, praying for a better day
But only to be met by reality and thrown away
He fends for himself, fearing each day his last
With possibly a dollar or less to get past
This image stuck in your mind, feeling nauseous inside
You feel like your worlds have just collided

The school bus honks its horn outside, beckoning you in
All a while the images are still within
You try to forget them but you know that you can’t, you won’t
Why do I live a life like this when others don’t?
How are they different from me?
We are the same, doesn’t everyone agree?

The playful laughter of schoolchildren on the playground bringing you back to reality
The bell rings, proceeding to your first class feeling scarred mentally
You stare out the window knowing somewhere in the world a child fights to survive
Why does this culture die and the other thrive?
The teacher asks what’s wrong
You ask her a very simple question-why doesn’t this world get along?

Why is it that we have to worry about grades while others worry about food?
Our conditions were good, theirs crude
You ask her what can one person possibly hope to do?
Not to try and change the world at one but in small portions to pursue
The new class project being issues in the world
Your initiative of how to solve these issues unfurled

Poverty is the issue you choose
Resting until this issue is solved you refuse
Another news report stirs your mind
A family of 9 in a house so confined
There shoved into the house like books in a bag
The gravity of the situation pushing down on them till their shoulders sag

Their faces solemn and crying out for hope
With all of them to share half a bar of soap
The children working until their backs bend like that of a river
Walking miles on end while the weight makes their legs quiver
Each one knowing there is no time for fun
You know that your journey has just begun

So I ask of you my dear reader
Will you stand up and become a leader?
Or will you go back home and return to a normal living?
I hope that now you realize the world is very unforgiving
Be grateful for all the great things you get
Because the problems of this world hide in your silhouette

The Rich Get Hungrier
The New York Times- Op-Ed
Cambridge, Mass.
By: Amartya Sen,
May 28, 2008

Balint Zsako
WILL the food crisis that is menacing the lives of millions ease up — or grow worse over time? The answer may be both. The recent rise in food prices has largely been caused by temporary problems like drought in Australia, Ukraine and elsewhere. Though the need for huge rescue operations is urgent, the present acute crisis will eventually end. But underlying it is a basic problem that will only intensify unless we recognize it and try to remedy it.
It is a tale of two peoples. In one version of the story, a country with a lot of poor people suddenly experiences fast economic expansion, but only half of the people share in the new prosperity. The favored ones spend a lot of their new income on food, and unless supply expands very quickly, prices shoot up. The rest of the poor now face higher food prices but no greater income, and begin to starve. Tragedies like this happen repeatedly in the world.
A stark example is the Bengal famine of 1943, during the last days of the British rule in India. The poor who lived in cities experienced rapidly rising incomes, especially in Calcutta, where huge expenditures for the war against Japan caused a boom that quadrupled food prices. The rural poor faced these skyrocketing prices with little increase in income.
Misdirected government policy worsened the division. The British rulers were determined to prevent urban discontent during the war, so the government bought food in the villages and sold it, heavily subsidized, in the cities, a move that increased rural food prices even further. Low earners in the villages starved. Two million to three million people died in that famine and its aftermath.
Much discussion is rightly devoted to the division between haves and have-nots in the global economy, but the world’s poor are themselves divided between those who are experiencing high growth and those who are not. The rapid economic expansion in countries like China, India and Vietnam tends to sharply increase the demand for food. This is, of course, an excellent thing in itself, and if these countries could manage to reduce their unequal internal sharing of growth, even those left behind there would eat much better.
But the same growth also puts pressure on global food markets — sometimes through increased imports, but also through restrictions or bans on exports to moderate the rise in food prices at home, as has happened recently in countries like India, China, Vietnam and Argentina. Those hit particularly hard have been the poor, especially in Africa.
There is also a high-tech version of the tale of two peoples. Agricultural crops like corn and soybeans can be used for making ethanol for motor fuel. So the stomachs of the hungry must also compete with fuel tanks.
Misdirected government policy plays a part here, too. In 2005, the United States Congress began to require widespread use of ethanol in motor fuels. This law combined with a subsidy for this use has created a flourishing corn market in the United States, but has also diverted agricultural resources from food to fuel. This makes it even harder for the hungry stomachs to compete.
Ethanol use does little to prevent global warming and environmental deterioration, and clear-headed policy reforms could be urgently carried out, if American politics would permit it. Ethanol use could be curtailed, rather than being subsidized and enforced.
The global food problem is not being caused by a falling trend in world production, or for that matter in food output per person (this is often asserted without much evidence). It is the result of accelerating demand. However, a demand-induced problem also calls for rapid expansion in food production, which can be done through more global cooperation.
While population growth accounts for only a modest part of the growing demand for food, it can contribute to global warming, and long-term climate change can threaten agriculture. Happily, population growth is already slowing and there is overwhelming evidence that women’s empowerment (including expansion of schooling for girls) can rapidly reduce it even further.
What is most challenging is to find effective policies to deal with the consequences of extremely asymmetric expansion of the global economy. Domestic economic reforms are badly needed in many slow-growth countries, but there is also a big need for more global cooperation and assistance. The first task is to understand the nature of the problem.
Amartya Sen, who teaches economics and philosophy at Harvard, received the Nobel Prize in economics in 1998 and is the author, most recently, of “Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny.”

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