UPenn’s Annual Summer Teacher Institute Gathers Area Educators for Week on Teaching Global Revolutions and Peace

Kathy Quigley for GPA -- In August, 21 teachers convened for a week of training and discussions at the University of Pennsylvania’s campus for the annual Summer Teacher Institute. Hosted by four UPenn centers, all of which are Global Philadelphia Association members, the annual Summer Institute provides a forum for professional educators from the Greater Philadelphia region to examine methods of teaching global affairs.

UPenn’s Center for East Asian Studies, Middle East Center, Africa Studies Center, and South Asia Center comprised the joint hosting body. The Summer Teacher Institute presents a timely opportunity for participants to determine how they can integrate lessons on international revolutions and peace-building initiatives into their curricula. In the Philadelphia area, where many immigrant populations are represented, these types of lessons have particular significance. From the elementary school level through high school, all teachers were required to submit applications in order to take part. 

Labaron Palmer, Assistant Director of the Middle East Center, was kind enough to answer some questions about the Summer Teacher Institute.

Where are the educators from who took part in the 2012 Summer Teacher Institute? How many participated in total?

A total of 21 selected educators took part in our 2012 Summer Teacher Institute. The group consisted of teachers from various academic disciplines within the social sciences, humanities, etc. Many accepted applicants were from the Tri-State area, with a few coming from as far as California, Massachusetts, Washington D.C., and Virginia. There were also applicants from abroad, and other parts of the U.S.

In what ways did UPenn's four host Centers contribute to the SI?

The National Resources Centers at the University of Pennsylvania created and facilitated the programming, which included the development of panel sessions, lectures, development workshops, video-conferencing, blogging, international food, accommodations, etc. It was created in accordance with the Assistant Directors of the four National Resource Centers at the University of Pennsylvania:

  • Raili Roy -- South Asia Center
  • Anastasia Shown -- African Studies Center
  • Melissa Jen DiFrancesco -- Center for East Asian Studies
  • Labaron Palmer -- Middle East Center

What were some of the week's highlights?

Videoconferences were set up with teachers in India and Egypt. American educators used this opportunity to learn about the educational structures of these two countries, exchange ideas, and use this opportunity to examine their pedagogical practices within the context of a global society.

On the last day of the Summer Institute participants were given the opportunity to present materials and curriculum they had developed, which could be used in the classroom. The developed material aimed to convert what they learned from the week’s activities into meaningful lessons for their students.

How does the annual SI help globalize Philadelphia?

The Summer Teacher Institute aims to provide teachers with resources pertaining to a particular global theme or topic. This year’s Summer Institute focused on developing curriculum for Peace and Revolution education. Many of the participating teachers are educators in Southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey. It is our hope that teachers will disseminate this information to their students in the form of impactful lessons. The curriculum from this program should be insightful, stimulating, and thought provoking for all of those involved (both students and teachers), and help students move forward to becoming global citizens in the 21st century.