Puerto Rico Archives - Earth Charter

International Conference: The values to face the world’s challenges in Puerto Rico

congreso-conference-puerto-rico The Earth Charter Center for Education for Sustainable Development was invited to participate in the International Conference: The values to face the world’s challenges, that took place in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on February 12th and 13th, 2016. Around 200 people participated, mostly teachers from different areas of Puerto Rico.

The conference was organized by the Metropolitan University of Puerto Rico with the support of the University of Granada, Spain. One of the main objectives was to present the preliminary results of the research that these universities have conducted over the past two years on the values of young people in Puerto Rico. In addition to presenting these results, six different workshops related to education and values about sustainability and peace were offered.

The Earth Charter Center for ESD organized one of these workshops, “Educating for sustainability with the Earth Charter”, which was facilitated by Alicia Jimenez. Other Earth Charter related workshops were offered by Dr. María Vilches, of the Metropolitan University, whose workshop title was “Connecting with ourselves, activities for using the Earth Charter”. The other one was offered by Dr. Alfonso Fernández, of the University of Granada, who presented the workshop “Reconnecting with nature. Relaxation and guided visualization”.

The Secretary of Education, Prof. Rafael Roman, gave the opening address in which he reflected on the importance of knowing what young people think are the values that guide their lives. With regards to education, he said that one should not “teach” about values, but live and reflect on them.

Dr. Andres Soriano of the University of Granada gave a presentation on the main findings of the research project on the values of Puerto Rico’s youth. This presentation was extended in a parallel session on Friday afternoon. Dr. Soriano started with their working definition of “values”, which refers to anything that has an important quality, that does not leave us indifferent, which produces pleasure or desire, gives value, and directs human life. Values have no meaning if not contextualized. The overall objective of the research was to describe the values of young Puerto Ricans in their individual, social, and cultural dimensions. About 1,800 young people from 11 to 19 years old from all regions of the island were interviewed.

The information collected, which needs to be analyzed in detail, yielded data such as preferences in types and number of friends, and participation in community organizations and social movements, which are popular and highly valued. A majority of young people interviewed highly valued the care of the environment, and they also perceive themselves as having a significant influence on adults. An interesting result is that the majority of interviewees declined to respond on issues related to violence and conflicts.

It is expected that the results of this research will be discussed with teachers and will help influence the formation of educational public policies that will increase the contextualization of values .


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The Earth Charter at a Conference on Education for Peace in Puerto Rico

On 26 February the UNESCO Chair on Peace Education of the University of Puerto Rico held their Annual Conference of Education for Peace 2013-2014. The event, hosted by the Department of Education, was attended by over 250 participants including university deans, professors, college and school students, and was also open to the general public.

The main topics discussed were peace, sustainability, and education. The focus was the Earth Charter and its implication for education and as an instrument for educators.

As coordinator of the UNESCO Chair on Education for Sustainable Development, Mirian Vilela, was invited to offer the conference keynote speech called “Sustainability Values, Education, and The Earth Charter.” The following day, she also offered an afternoon workshop on “Sustainability Education with the Earth Charter”.

Ms. Vilela stressed that “The Earth Charter can be considered as a declaration of responsibility and interdependence…and that it offers an ethical framework of values and principles that can guide us to a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world.”

“I am under the impression that throughout recent times ethics and reflection on values have been perceived as unpractical, too philosophical, abstract, and even irrelevant…for which people have preferred to not ‘waste’ any time on it”, explained Ms. Vilela. “However, it is important that education experiences offer a space to reflect on the importance of ethical values to guide decisions, especially for those who are graduating from academic institutions.”

She also invited the audience to reflect on words from the Earth Charter, “We must realize that when basic needs have been met, human development is primarily about being more, not having more. What does it mean to be more?”

This encounter has opened some possibilities for future collaboration between the University of Puerto Rico’s UNESCO Chair on Education for Peace and the UNESCO Chair on Education for Sustainable Development with the Earth Charter.

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