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CTAUN conference empowers educators to take action locally and globally

CTAUN conference empowers educators to take action locally and globally
Maher Nasser, director of the Outreach Division in the U.N.'s Department of Public Information, delivered opening remarks at the CTAUN conference held at UNG's Dahlonega Campus Feb. 24.

The University of North Georgia (UNG) hosted the annual Committee on Teaching About the United Nations (CTAUN) Conference for the first time on Feb. 24.

Held on UNG’s Dahlonega Campus, the conference was a joint effort among UNG's College of Education and Georgia State University's (GSU) College of Education and Human Development to provide opportunities for educators and students to learn, understand and appreciate the work of the U.N. General Assembly.

This year's conference theme, "Empowering Educators: Taking Action Locally and Globally," focused on the role and impact of classroom teachers on students and to integrate global awareness into local school activities and curriculum.

"Speakers at this year's CTAUN conference presented on a wide range of themes that reflect on classroom instruction and extend to organizations and individuals concerned with education in this country and abroad," said Dr. James Badger, professor in the College of Education and a CTAUN event organizer. "The diversity of topics presented at this conference speak not only to the work of CTAUN concerned with teaching our children about a world made increasingly interdependent by globalization, but connect to UNG's mission of preparing future students and educators as leaders in a diverse and global society."

CTAUN included more than 120 attendees, including kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers and UNG and GSU faculty, staff and students, who listened and participated in a series of five concurrent sessions, three panel presentations and two plenary talks.

The opening plenary speaker was Maher Nasser, director of the Outreach Division in the U.N.'s Department of Public Information. A veteran of the U.N. system for more than 29 years, Nasser has held various positions in Gaza, Jerusalem, Amman, Cairo, Vienna, and New York City. Prior to his current post, Nasser was the director of the U.N. Information Service in Vienna. Previously, he served as director of the U.N. Information Centre in Cairo.

Attendees had several 30-minute concurrent sessions to choose from that featured speakers including:

  • Tyler Crafton-Karnes, offsite education coordinator at the Museum of History and Holocaust Education at Kennesaw State University, who presented: "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."
  • Thais Council, Southern Regional Education Board Doctoral Fellow; and Brilliant Nyambi, youth peer educator coordinator, Africa Unite, who presented: "Bridging Knowledge Gaps: A Transatlantic Book Club between Black Africans and African-Americans."
  • Sally N. Levine, executive director of the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust, who presented: "Teaching About the Holocaust: Building Statewide Communities of Practice."
  • Gwendolyn Benson, associate dean, College of Education & Human Development, Georgia State University, who presented: "The (De)construction of Public Schools/Reconfiguring Public Education."

The theme of the panel presentation was "How We Enact Change," and included:

  • Carrie McGarity Woodcock, head of World Languages & Global Initiatives, Hall County Schools: "Changing a Community Through Language and Culture"
  • Elena Hernandez-Vo, [need title and place of work], "Empowering Educators to Support Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education (SLIFE)"
  • Claudia Rule, coordinator, School-Within-School Program, International Community School, Decatur, Georgia: "How the International Community School Empowers the Learning and Lives of All Students Through Teaching, Community and Leadership"

"Having the opportunity to host the CTAUN conference allowed our institution and community to come together and share ideas to empower educators," said Dr. April Nelms, department head of teacher education at UNG and another event organizer. "It was inspiring to see these speakers and attendees broaching topics that, for better or worse, have a lasting impact on our world. Through CTAUN, we are building a bridge to enact change using our most powerful tool, education."  

To learn more about CTAUN visit the website.

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