Global Studies Conference – Easter 2021

A number of AKS students took part in a Global Studies Online Conference organised by Felsted School that took place during the Easter break. This took the form of a 5-day online programme.

As members of Round Square, our students are given many opportunities, this being one of them, to connect and work with students from all around the globe. Today’s students are the next generation of business, political and community leaders and, as a Round Square school, we feel our responsibility is to shape the way in which students understand, prepare for, and respond to the world’s challenges both now and in the future.

The topics which were covered at this conference through workshops and listening to keynote speakers were:

WORKSHOPS

• Democracy Questioned: Brexit

• Being a Global Citizen

• Storming the Capitol

• The role of men in feminism

• Appropriate language to use during debates

• The impact of COVID–19 leadership: Scottish Independence

• Polarisation of Worldviews: Why I am Right and You are Wrong

• Anti-Feminism and Homophobia in Poland: A Case Study

• Social Responsibility: How Individual Actions can have a Global Impact

• Foreign Aid: A Post–COVID Landscape

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS covering:

· Climate Change in the Banking Sector

· Freedom of Speech

· Trans Activism

· Anti-Corruption in the United Nations

· The Value of Global Education in Investment Banking

· Mental Health Issues in Political Activism.

The students talked with other students around the world to try and understand different viewpoints about how some global issues may be perceived.

Kate S and Zara F (Year 10) explain what they covered and their experience:

Kate:

Polarisation of world views: ‘Why I am right, and you are wrong’

We discussed the definition of polarisation and how that affects politics and world views. Polarisation = only looking at one point of view, this also led us on to the question of how does social media affect the severity and occurrence of polarisation? Another key idea we discussed today was responsibility, and questions in correlation to this e.g. who is responsible for the increase in polarisation? How do people react to this? What is the impact?

We had a debate discussing ‘if the two-party system is ultimately a threat to democracy?’ This was extremely insightful because many people used examples and related their argument to their own countries e.g. Germany, India and America, which allowed me to learn and understand more about politics in other countries and other people’s views on them.

Anti-feminism and homophobia in Poland

We discussed the surge of right-wing groups and the lack of women’s rights as well as the views towards women. We also asked the question is this a cause of concern for the region and is it a cause for concern for the world?

It was very good to hear that everyone in the meeting agreed that anti-feminism and homophobia is against everybody’s equal human rights and that it is wrong. This shows that many many countries all over the world have been educated to accept and understand others, no matter who they are or are perceived to be.

We then explored the link between education of young people, poverty and religion to the extent and severity of anti-feminism and homophobia in other countries.

How individual actions can have a global impact

The definition of society was discussed, in which we concluded that society is a group of diverse people working together in unison. We then continued to discuss and spoke about the fact that society is interdependent on the people within it; linking back to the topic of the meeting today the fact that society is interdependent on the people within it and also that each society is dependent on each other as well. This means that one individual action by one single person can be extrapolated to then affect everybody globally.

We then went on to discuss whether the challenges of cultural diversity outweigh the benefits. Many people had very interesting and contrasting views; however, one idea we all agreed upon was that to answer the question with the answer no, we would have to imagine that this culturally diverse society was working in unison.

Zara:

I really enjoyed the conference and I have learnt a lot over the past few days from it. The conference has helped with my debating, research skills and analysing skills of events happening around the world. I think that these are very important things to learn and will help me in the future!

The conference has helped with my debating, research skills and analysing skills of events happening around the world. I think that these are very important things to learn and will help me in the future! I have been involved in discussions about the Storming of the US capitol, anti-feminism, and homophobia in Poland. This is something I would like to be involved with again in the future.

I have been involved in discussions about the Storming of the US capitol, anti-feminism and homophobia in Poland.

I learnt how much the media influenced the storming of the US capitol. Also, how the media influenced people’s thoughts on Trump and started rumours of a rigged vote. One participant concluded that the rigged voting caused the event. I agreed with this very much because all of the conspiracy online about this angered ‘Trump supporters’ causing them to rebel. We tried comparing these protests to other protests that had happened. For example, the ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests and lockdown protests. We concluded that the ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests were very important and justified. However, the lockdown protests and storming of the capitol were not. Many others and I did not agree with Trumps ‘false claim’ that the election had been ‘stolen’ from him. Participants from America thought this was unfair of Trump to publish because it manipulated his supporters into storming the capitol. I agreed with them. This just showed how powerful statements on social media can be and what they can cause.

When learning about anti-feminism and homophobia in Poland we tried to understand why Poland was trying to free itself from ‘LGBTQ+ ideology’ and what we could do to stop this from happening. I thought that peaceful protests were a great way to overcome this because other people will read about them, educate themselves and maybe join the peaceful protests. However, participants from Argentina disagreed. They thought that a peaceful protest would not be powerful enough and the only way to stop homophobia in Poland was to use violence. We talked about whether other countries can influence each other on anti-feminist and homophobic legislation. One participant from Argentina said that same-sex marriage becoming legalised in Argentina influenced other countries to change their laws. I agreed with this however sometimes influence can be negative. We decided that what is happening in Poland is not only dangerous to the region but may also be dangerous to the rest of the world because it may influence other countries to change their opinions to a negative view of the LGBTQ+ community.