LOCK HAVEN, Pa. - On November 17 approximately 100 people gathered at Lock Haven University to participate in an Active Global Citizenship conference. Participants came from colleges and universities from all across Pennsylvania and from as far away as New Orleans, Louisiana; Liverpool, England; and Rabat, Morocco. Spearheaded by LHU geography professor Dr. Todd Nesbitt, the conference was funded and supported by an LHU Presidential Initiative grant, LHU’s Institute for International Studies as well as its MountainServe Center for Global Citizenship, Pennsylvania Campus Compact and the Philadelphia Higher Education Network for Neighborhood Development.Lock Haven University is a member of the Pennsylvania State
System of Higher Education (PASSHE), the largest provider of higher education in
the commonwealth. Its 14 universities offer more than 250 degree and certificate
programs in more than 120 areas of study. Nearly 405,000 system alumni live and
work in Pennsylvania.
The purpose of the conference was to empower and educate delegates about how to become conscientious citizens who create sustainable relationships among and within local, regional and global communities. The topics explored at the conference included hunger; disaster relief; global service-learning; study abroad; peace and conflict; environmental issues; public service internships; and social justice.
The conference began with a session on peace and conflict in Northern Ireland by Dr. Neil Fergusson from Liverpool Hope University, an LHU international partner school. Fergusson explored the psychological aspects of participating in, as well as disengaging from, armed conflict in Northern Ireland. Fergusson stressed how conflict and hate is spread by “dehumanization” of entire groups of people. His research focuses at the level of the individual and the complicated psychology and humanity of someone who celebrates having killed several people in a bombing and then swerves to hit a rabbit all within the same drive home.
Sister Francesca Onley, the keynote speaker, spoke about her work as president of Holy Family University and Chair of the United Nations Commission on Disarmament Education, Conflict Resolution and Peace. She encouraged students to consider the many “Pathways to Global Citizenship,” which begin with “voting, participating in Legislator’s Day and international education. Sister Onley stressed that international education happens “at home and abroad” and that students can study abroad, while they should also get to know international students on their own home campuses.
Participants then reconvened at the conclusion of the conference to reflect on the day, the sessions and on the very definition of global citizenship itself. They shared steps that they all agreed to make within their own coursework, education and life to further conscientious citizenship around the world and in their local community.