Why Host a World Savvy Salon? (Scroll down for specific Salon Guide for Global Poverty and International Development)
In a world where media tends to focus more on celebrities than on pressing global issues, it is challenging to find reliable sources of quality international news coverage and opportunities to discuss the meaning and impact of global events and trends.
This is ironic, given that we are at a time in which our lives are inexorably connected to the lives of people around the world in ways previously unimaginable. Even so, American mainstream media coverage of international affairs has declined. The result is a public that lacks the capacity to meaningfully discuss world affairs around the dinner table and, by extension, around the negotiating table in halls of power as global problem solvers.
The Global Affairs Salon is a forum for individuals to convene and discuss these pressing issues. Salons are book clubs for the 21st Century. World Savvy’s Monitor provides you with the content, context and tools to organize a Salon in your school or community. By focusing on one global issue or region each month, the Monitor and Salons are designed for participants to:
- Inform themselves about critical world affairs.
- Gather with a group of curious global citizens to discuss the issues, challenges and solutions on the world stage and in your own backyard.
- Host a dinner party with a purpose: to educate, to inspire, to promote global citizenship.
Salon participants bring diverse perspectives and backgrounds – from history, science, technology, psychology, law, finance, art, education, politics, community action, and parenting – to bear on each conversation. All sides of important global issues can be dissected; films and books are recommended; future collaborations are devised, from work and travel to philanthropy and activism. Salons can spark brainstorming and debate over how to talk to others and our children about the world.
Be part of a new movement: the book club, reinvented. Start a World Savvy Salon today using the World Savvy Monitor:
- Each member of your Salon subscribes online to the World Savvy Monitor. Individual subscriptions are $75/year. We encourage you to register your Salon with World Savvy so we can provide support and follow progress this year.
- Members receive and read the monthly edition (available monthly from August-November and January-May) and convene for a World Savvy Salon to discuss the latest Monitor issue.
- Use the World Savvy Monitor website for Salon Guides with discussion questions to spark conversation.
- Invite speakers with expertise in various areas relevant to Monitor topics to present to the group – these could be experts, photographers, activists, or just people who have traveled worldwide or are particularly passionate or well-informed about world affairs.
- Engage in community education, advocacy, volunteerism, activism, and/or philanthropy around the issues raised.
- Find ways to bring your children into the discussion and engage their peers.
- Communicate with your schools and workplaces about how global citizenship can be nurtured and expressed in these settings.
Why the World Savvy Monitor and Salons?
Consider The Following Statistics:
From the 2006 National Geographic Society Geographic Literacy Study
Among Americans, Age 18-24
- 6 in 10 could not find Iraq or Saudi Arabia on a map of the Middle East. 9 in 10 could not find Afghanistan. 75% could not find Iran or Israel.
- 75% did not know that Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim country; half thought India is predominantly Muslim (suggesting maybe they are mixing up the two?)
- Over half could not put Sudan or Rwanda in Africa.
- Only half knew the Alps are in Europe; just over half knew the Amazon Rain Forest is in South America. 20% could not find the Pacific Ocean and 65% could not find Great Britain.
- They generally had no idea of how the US and China compare: 75% thought English is the most spoken native language in the world (when it is Mandarin); 71% named China, not the US, as the largest exporter of goods and services; most thought China’s population is only double that of the US (when it is actually quadruple).
- Only 25% thought it was important to know where countries in the news are located; only 60% thought knowledge of a foreign language was important.
From 2007, 2008 Pew Research People and the Press
Among Americans, Age 18-65
(Note: these were multiple choice questions!)
- Only 69% could name the Vice President of the US (down from 74% in 1989).
- Only 36% could name the President of Russia.
- Only 32% could come up with Sunni as the rival Muslim sect of Shia.
- Only 50% could match Hugo Chavez with Venezuela.
- Only 46% knew it was Kosovo that recently declared independence from Serbia.
- Only 28% could estimate the number of US troops killed in Iraq by the fifth anniversary of the invasion in March 2008 when given the choices 2000, 3000, 4000, and 5000 (it is 4000).
Global Poverty and International Development
- What factors do you believe are most important in determining the relative wealth or poverty of a nation? For example, to what extent are Sub-Saharan African nations hindered by geography and to what extent are poverty rates a result of their colonial past?
- Are wealthy nations obligated to provide development assistance to poor nations? Why or why not? What factors should be used when determining their level of responsibility? For example, do nations with colonial pasts have a greater obligation than those without such a history?
- Which type of development assistance described in this edition of the Monitor do you believe has the most potential for reducing poverty levels? Which do you believe has the most potential for growing the economies of developing countries? If your answers to these questions are different, why? If they are the same, why are they the same?
- If you had to choose either a macro or a micro approach to development assistance, which would you choose? Why?
- What factors do you think lead some nations to place a high priority on development assistance? For example, why is the Netherlands ranked at the top of the Commitment to Development Index while the United States is ranked 14th?
- To what extent do you believe developing nations are disproportionately affected by natural disasters and climate changes? How does geography affect this? How do technology and general infrastructure affect outcomes?
- If you were the head of a multilateral development agency, and money was not an issue, what would your ideal development package look like?
- Consider the Conflict Prevention section of this issue. What role should the US play in conflict prevention? What role should it play in conflicts that have already reached a large scale, such as in Sudan? What role should multilateral organizations such as NATO and UN peacekeepers play? Should an individual country ever act without the support of these multilateral organizations?
- Discuss the increasing role that India, and especially China, are playing in providing development assistance. What are the positive and negative aspects? Are there any ways that the rest of the world could influence China’s unconditional aid to poorly governed nations, such as Sudan?
- What realistic steps, if any, do you think should be taken to create a more equal global marketplace? Are large-scale, comprehensive agreements in order, or should the global community focus on smaller, bilateral and regional agreements?
- How should developed countries be held responsible for reneging on trade policies agreed to in the WTO? For example, is there a mechanism by which the US could be punished for refusing to abolish its agricultural subsidies? Conversely, should developing nations be asked to remove all protectionist policies? Why or why not?
- Things to watch for in the coming year:
- How will the global financial crisis affect aid levels? Will the developing and developed worlds feel its effects in different ways?
- Will there be any new trends in development assistance? Will microfinance continue to gain momentum as a popular form of development?
- In what ways, if any, will the newly-elected US president change the trajectory of US development assistance?
- What progress, if any, will be made toward the MDGs?
Banker to the Poor: Micro-lending and the Battle Against World Poverty by Muhammad Yunus
It began with a simple $27 loan. After witnessing the cycle of poverty that kept many poor women enslaved to high-interest loan sharks in Bangladesh, Dr. Muhammad Yunus lent money to 42 women so they could purchase bamboo to make and sell stools. In a short time, the women were able to repay the loans while continuing to support themselves and their families. With that initial eye-opening success, the seeds of the Grameen Bank, and the concept of microcredit, were planted. This book tells that story and how the Grameen Bank has grown.
The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for our Time by Jeffrey Sachs
Celebrated economist Jeffrey Sachs has a plan to eliminate extreme poverty around the world by 2025, and describes his plan in this popular book. His focus is on the one billion poorest individuals around the world who are caught in a poverty trap of disease, physical isolation, environmental stress, political instability, and lack of access to capital, technology, medicine, and education.
Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet by Jeffery Sachs
Sachs argues that the crises facing humanity today are daunting, but solvable. He focuses on four challenges for the coming decades: climate change and environmental destruction; population growth; extreme poverty; and the political logjams that hinder global cooperation on these issues.
The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good by William Easterly
Easterly, another leading development economist, whose views are often seen as being in opposition to Sachs, contends in this books that today’s global poverty has been worsened by failed policies of the West, who assumed they knew what was best for the world.
Globalization and its Discontents by Joseph Stiglitz
His book clearly explains the functions and powers of the main institutions that govern globalization – the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization – along with the ramifications, both good and bad, of their policies. He strongly believes that globalization can be a positive force around the world, particularly for the poor, but only if the IMF, World Bank, and WTO dramatically alter the way they operate, beginning with increased transparency and a greater willingness to examine their own actions closely.
The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It by Paul Collier
Collier argues that the fifty failed states that are home to the majority of the world’s poorest one billion people pose the central challenge of the developing world. Collier analyzes the causes of failure and points to a set of traps that ensnare these countries. He points to the fact that standard solutions do not work in such failed states and proposes new strategies for lifting the ‘bottom billion’ out of poverty.
Global Development 2.0: Can Philanthropists, the Public, and the Poor Make Poverty History? edited by Lael Brainard and Derek Chollet
An unprecedented explosion of development players heralds a new era of global action on poverty. This collection of essays contains analyses of this phenomenon, and in particular whether it will be able to truly improve the lives of the world’s poorest citizens.
Development as Freedom by Amartya Sen
Winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics, Sen argues that open dialogue, civil freedoms and political liberties are prerequisites for sustainable development. He tests his theory with examples ranging from the former Soviet bloc to Africa, but he puts special emphasis on China and India.
Life and Debt
This searing documentary examines how the policies of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other aid organizations have changed the Jamaican economy over the past quarter of a century, leaving the local people to struggle in poverty and work in sweatshops. Author Jamaica Kincaid narrates. Available from Amazon and Netflix.
Time for School – The Global Education Crisis
This documentary from PBS discusses primary education around the world, and the quest to provide it to all children, per the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), by 2015. The film follows seven kids in: Japan, Kenya, Benin, Brazil, Romania, Afghanistan, and India as they enter school for the first time. Additional information and accompanying lessons on PBS website.
Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy
This groundbreaking PBS series explores our changing world – the great debate over globalization and the future of our society. It combines stunning film footage with dramatic stories and extraordinary interviews with world leaders and thinkers from twenty different countries. It consists of three volumes: The New Rules of the Game, The Agony of Reform, and The Battle of Ideas. Available from Amazon and Netflix. Has accompanying website from PBS with lessons on economic fundamentals.
Where is the World Going, Mr. Stiglitz?
Simply and eloquently, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz explains how the world's economy works. Drawing not only from his academic expertise but also from time spent on the ground in countries around the world, Stiglitz offers fresh thinking about the questions and challenges facing all of us – from well-off Americans to those mired in Third World poverty. This five part series will appeal to experts and non-experts alike, as Stiglitz's clear and concise reasoning about the complexities of globalization is revealed. Available from Amazon and Netflix.
Websites and Multimedia
Center for Global Development
This website includes articles and research about poverty and development throughout the world.
This website features some amazing statistics and interactive graphs about our world today. Choose the indicators you want to see – education, poverty, health, environment, trade, and many more. There are also videos and podcasts that could be good to show in high school classrooms – there is a great video about 'debunking myths of the third world'.
This website features a number of thematic maps, illustrating important global statistics. See the link below to find global maps focused on poverty statistics.
Women’s World Banking
The idea for Women’s World Banking was conceived during the first United Nations World Conference on Women in 1975. Today, WWB provides support, advice, training and information to a global network of 54 microfinance institutions and banks in 30 countries worldwide.
Kiva’s mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty. It is the world’s first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world.
YouthGive is a non-profit organization that works to engage children and youth in philanthropy, and to instill lifelong habits of generosity and civic engagement. Parents can open a youth account online for any – $1, $20, or $100 – and then from a menu (written by youth participants themselves who map, interview, and profile organizations), the youth donor can explore issues and connect with non-profit organizations working around the world.