Seton Hall University faculty and alumni presented a session at the 2019 Teaching the World and Urban Matters Local Global Community Voices Conference on Saturday, March 30, at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. Bob Mark, Ph.D. from Israel and a Scholar in Residence with the Educational Studies Department, Jim Daly, professor in Educational Studies, were joined by two Secondary Education Alumni, Michael Catelli (Supervisor of Social Studies for the Somerset Hills Regional School District) and Luke LaChac (teacher of social studies at the Bernardsville Middle School, Somerset Hills Regional School District). Sister Mary Amakwe John Bosco (Communications Department at Seton Hall) and Darcey Brooten (teacher of the second grade at the Bedwell Elementary School in the Somerset Hills Regional School District) also took part in the presentation.
The focus of the session was to share some of the work done through the Perils and Possibilities of Diversity Initiative (PPDI), an international collaboration co-convened by The Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights, Rutgers University; The Educational Studies Department at Seton Hall University, and current/former teachers at Neve Shalom, Wahat al-Salam in Israel.
The two main pillars of the initiative are research and practice. The Research Pillar provides support for linking together teachers, scholars, students, and others through writing about their experiences and addressing diversity in schools. This pillar sponsors publications in the form of articles, book chapters, and books. The Practice Pillar unites teams of teachers, scholars, students and others via electronic communications. Together they explore and talk about diversity from their experiences. Various activities and projects emerge from the multiple electronic communities that are created.
This conference session addressed the several years old project between St. Patrick School in Niger State, Nigeria and the students in elementary and middle schools in Bernardsville. Over several years, students have collaborated on a variety of projects facilitated by Sister Bosco. With no available technology, students prepare materials (videos, art work, pictures, short stories) to be brought back and forth by Sister Bosco. Work completed by students here get to Nigeria in the summer, and in the Fall, students who worked on them reconvene to receive the responses. They then share what they did and learned with the incoming students in that grade level. The work has involved students examining geography, mathematics, politics, culture, religion and more.
PPDI has also provided Educational Studies students with access to other international scholars. Daniel Fernadez-Fuentes, a social communicator from Barcelona, taught three classes last year for students in the elementary education program (attended by an Initiative practitioner from an area school). The emphasis was on post-conflict work; one focus area was women of Western Sahara, and a second was young people of Colombia. He will be presenting a session next week on Amnesia, the loss of historical memory.
Through the PPDI, area administrators have provided elements of SEED training for students in the elementary education program. Current plans are to continue this practice and to then have students experience their pre-clinical and clinical practice in schools addressing restorative justice/restorative practices. Additionally, a web presence is currently available with links to the Center for Global Education at Seton Hall University underway.
The perils of diversity are evident throughout the world; recognizing and learning from them is essential. Potential contributions and promises of diversity need to be identified, explored and shared. This initiative creates an organizational foundation for bringing together a wide range of stakeholders interested in working towards practices and programs that hold promise for schools. The PPDI project will continue to promote a community of practitioners, scholars, students and interested organizations and individuals to jointly explore ways in which schools can serve as an arena for examining diversity.