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Stamford Campus hosts high school conference on globalization

by Tom Chiappetta - April 7, 2008

Eighty-five high school students spent a day at the Stamford campus recently learning about the pros and cons of globalization.

The March 26 conference, “Globalization: A Double-Sided Coin or A Double-Edged Sword,” drew students from five Connecticut high schools.

It was organized by UConn’s Early College Experience program, in conjunction with the Stamford Campus, which houses the University’s Center for Globalization and Commerce.

The UConn Early College Experience (ECE) is a concurrent enrollment partnership that allows motivated students to take UConn courses at their high schools.

Every course taken through ECE is equivalent to the same course at the University, and all are taught by University-certified instructors.

This year, more than 5,100 students in 129 high schools are participating in the program.

Brian Boecherer, associate director of ECE, planned the conference to expand the reach of the program and enhance its impact on students.

The first part of the conference paired six groups of students for discussions with a UConn professor and a local business person, to hear different perspectives on globalization.

Boecherer says he wanted the students to be aware of contrasting points of view. Globalization is a highly charged topic, he says, that is often seen as either a positive force that speeds the economic sustainability of underdeveloped countries or as a negative movement that diminishes the importance of a nation and marginalizes the poor.

The students were charged with debating the merits of globalization. Boecherer asked each school to do research from the perspective of either an inter-governmental organization (IGO) –these typically favor globalization – or a particular country: these often don’t support the ideology.

The presentations were judged by a four-person panel, including Boecherer and ECE director Gillian Thorne.

Kathleen Dechant, professor-in-residence of management, leads a discussion about globalization during a conference for high school students at the Stamford Campus on March 26.
Kathleen Dechant, professor-in-residence of management, leads a discussion about globalization during a conference for high school students at the Stamford Campus on March 26.
Photo by Kathy Harrison

The Bridgeport Aquaculture School earned first place. The winners focused on environmental science in their presentation, which took the standpoint of South Korea.

The conference was particularly timely for the Bridgeport school, as several of the team members will travel to South Korea and Japan in May.

“Doing the research on South Korea, it was interesting to learn about its history and politics,” said Alyssa Demico, the team leader. “It got us much more interested in their culture, which we will get to see hands on when we visit.”

Morty Ortega, an associate professor of natural resources management at the Storrs campus and director of Global House, a living learning community, was one of the academic leaders for the forum.

“This was a great opportunity to bring the message to students about the environment in the international arena,” he said.

A group from RHAM High School in Hebron made a presentation representing Cuba’s point of view.

“We had just finished a project on dictatorships,” said Amy Nocton, a Spanish teacher at the school, “and this was a neat way to look at a country that we hadn’t yet explored in depth.”

Thorne said the globalization conference was the most ambitious event the ECE program has conducted off campus.

She said this type of collaborative effort with a regional campus helps gain exposure for ECE and she expects other events to follow soon.

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