Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Planning The Global ASL Partnership - Casa de los Angeles, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

This past week I've been planning the academic service learning course for next term, Soc 205 World Cultures online. Preparation is essential for a successful service-learning course --finding out what the non-profit organization needs, planning the project that will meet those needs, and aligning the service project and course content with the learning objectives and outcomes of the course.

The founder of Casa de los Angeles daycare center, Donna Quathamer (in photo with children), is an incredible human being, a transformational leader and she will be an active partner with our students. Our recent discussions have focused on identifying what our service learning partner needs.

While Casa de los Angeles has a website and a Facebook page, they believe that their social media strategy needs more effective 2-way communication and would like our students to help brainstorm and create a sample template for a volunteer web log, which can be linked to their website and FB page. Casa de los Angeles has had at least 1000 volunteers from all over the world work at the center, and a blog would allow them to tell their stories and stay in touch. Our service project will help Casa de los Angeles build and expand their growing virtual community.

Over the next few weeks, Donna and I will work to refine the initial goals and objectives of the service project. Second, I will be collecting materials from Casa--photos, text, stories, video, audio, calendar of events, etc.--for students to use in their service project. And, Donna is now composing a special message to our students, which I plan to videotape and post on our Blackboard course site. There is so much to do here before I leave Mexico!

One of Casa's dedicated volunteers, Marisa Bollman, has made a short documentary on Casa de los Angeles. I hope you enjoy it!

Sí, se puede from Casa de los Angeles on Vimeo.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Meet Our Service-Learning Partner!

I am pleased to introduce our global academic service-learning partner, Casa de los Angeles, a non-profit free daycare center in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Pictured above are the founder, Donna Quathamer (left) and me (right). However, as Donna says, "It's really all about the children!" Started in 2000, Casa de los Angeles is a community of caring people who gather to nurture children, serving the needs of the less fortunate, treating each person with dignity and respect as they work to make a better life for themselves and the community as a whole.

Students in my online course SOC 205 World Cultures next term, Spring 2010, will be doing an online service project for this organization while mastering course concepts in our study of cultures, including Mexico.

The service project will focus on ways in which Casa can use social networking --e.g. facebook, blogs, twitter, etc. -- to strengthen and expand its online community of volunteers and donors. This will be a creative, challenging and fun service project and a great learning experience for Berkeley online students! A global academic service-learning project is also a unique boost to a future graduate's portfolio and resume.

I will be posting much more as this academic service-learning course develops. In the meantime, check out their website at!

Here is a short video about the organization.

And, here is a slide show with music and audio in Spanish, made by a volunteer.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Eleanor Roosevelt with copy of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948
This week's discussion topic for students in SOC 415 Global Social Change is Democracy and Human Rights with a focus on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Click HERE to view the UDHR. Also, scroll down to view a short video.

Initially conceived of and written by Eleanor Roosevelt after World War II, the UDHR was adopted by the United Nations in 1948.

It is interesting that a study conducted just before the 50-year anniversary of the UDHR found that "only 8 percent of adults and 4 percent of young people are aware of and can name the Universal Declaration of Human Rights" (Landorf & Pineda 1997)

Critical Thinking About the UDHR

One of the learning outcomes of this course is: "Students will demonstrate general analytical and critical thinking skills by discussing, researching and writing about global social issues." Therefore, it is not enough just to name the UDHR and its history, but important also to think critically about and discuss in depth these universal human rights. Students are also debating the issue of how these human rights would be enforced.

Here are just a few of the questions that are guiding our discussion:

1. Which of the UDHR do you believe are most important? Least important?
2. Can you think of any rights that have not been listed, that you recommend be added? Which, if any, should be not be on the list?
3. Are universal human rights necessary, and should all nations have the same basic rights for their citizens?
4. Should universal human rights be enforced? If so, how? If no, why?
5. Is this goal attainable, practical, or just utopianism?

If you would like to view a video, this one summarizes the UDHR.

Works Cited:
Landorf, Hillary and Martha Fernanda Pineda (2007) Learning History Through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Social Education, October 2007.