Updated China Curriculum from Choices

Check out the latest edition of the Choices Curriculum – China on the World Stage: Weighing the U.S. Response – 10th Edition….

The United States faces a China on track to become the world’s largest economy. China is also rapidly increasing its military strength. At the same time, the social, political, and economic forces of China’s transition threaten to spin beyond Beijing’s control. This curriculum unit explores the history of U.S. relations with China and prepares students to advocate different options for U.S. policy towards China in a simulation set in the U.S. Senate.

This is a great addition to the World Savvy Monitor edition on China: The Promise and Power of an Emerging Superpower. Check out the Classroon Companion for additional resources on China for the classroom.

Support World Savvy by voting for us at Pepsi Refresh!

World Savvy is in the running for $25k from the Pepsi Refresh Project. Please consider voting for World Savvy to support our work to educate and engage youth in community and world affairs. To vote, simply visit http://www.refresheverything.com/worldsavvy and click “Vote for this idea”.

Mexico’s President Calderon Visits Washington

Today, Mexico’s President, Felipe Calderon’s, is in Washington on his first official state visit to the US.   To understand the context behind this visit, check out the section on US-Mexico relations in the August 2009 edition of the World Savvy Monitor.  Below is an excerpt from this section that may help shed light on Calderon’s visit:

An overriding factor in US-Mexican relations is asymmetry.

  • Obama in MexicoThe US has always been the more dominant partner, by virtue of its size, the strength of its economy, and its geopolitical influence.  The exception is US dependence on Mexican oil.  Mexico is the second-largest oil exporter to the US.
  • Located next door to a world superpower is a tricky place to be – not only because US influence is so strong, but because its attention to Mexican concerns has often been sporadic.
  • Mexico has, at times, retaliated by taking positions on the international stage that run counter to US interests.  These include Mexico’s decision not to support the US invasion of Iraq, and displays of camaraderie with US enemies such as Venezuela and Cuba.

In 2009, President Obama embarked on what has been framed as a new era in US-Mexican relations.  Well-publicized issues surrounding drug violence and immigration have elevated Mexican policy in the new President’s priorities.  On his highly scripted visit to Mexico City in April, he announced that he was there “to launch a new era of partnership… built on an even firmer foundation of mutual responsibility, mutual respect, and mutual interest.”

This has been accompanied by a billion dollar (mostly military) initiative to help Mexico deal with increasing drug violence, known as the Merida Initiative.  Critics of this initiative believe the solutions to mounting border crises lie not in more sophisticated weaponry for Mexican drug officials or in more immigration controls, but in reducing the glaring inequality between the two countries that lies at the root of many of these crises.

As globalization has progressed, the US and Mexico (and Canada) have become more interdependent, and it is unlikely that this trend will reverse, despite the global economic recession.  But this remains an asymmetrical interdependence, as Mexico is in a more vulnerable position and more easily buffeted by political, economic, and social trends at play inside its larger neighbors.

Read more….

Prepare for the Water Planet Challenge CleanUp

Water Planet Challenge CleanUp, a Service Learning Guide, is a sample from a new initiative being launched by EarthEcho International. This resource is offered as a preview of the Water Planet Challenge website, an on-line destination that will give youth tools and resources to take action that protects and restores our water planet. The full challenge launches this Fall. These materials are provided through the generous funding and participation of Participant Media and Ocean Conservancy. For more on EarthEcho International and the work of its co-founder Philippe Couteau, please visit www.EarthEcho.org. Download the guide at www.waterplanetchallenge.org.

To prepare for the Challenge, check out the November 2009 edition of the World Savvy Monitor on Water Around the World.

Nuclear Security Summit: A Step in the Right Direction?

On April 12th and 13th, 2010, President Barack Obama took a step away from his domestic agenda to focus on what he terms one of the greatest threats to international security: access to nuclear materials by terrorist groups. Bringing together representatives from 47 different countries, the Nuclear Security Summit, held in Washington DC, aimed to safeguard stockades of weapons-grade plutonium and uranium. Emerging from this event was an agreement among the participating countries on the urgency and severity of the threat, as well as adoption of a goal to secure all vulnerable nuclear materials within the next four years.

The summit built upon the momentum initiated by a new pact between Russia and the United States the previous week. Russia and the US agreed to dispose of 68,000kg of weapons-grade plutonium. While applauding the initiative of Russia and the United States, The Guardian stresses the need to garner multinational support to rein in nuclear proliferation. The backing of other vital countries, like China, will be necessary before the grand vision of a nuclear-free world can evolve into reality.

The sustained, and supposed, push by Iran toward nuclear-weapon capability dominated discussions at the Nuclear Security Summit. A nuclear Iran would at the very least alter the landscape of power in the Middle East, impacting US interests in the region. Despite its desire to impede the Iranian push for nuclear capabilities, the Obama administration has very little tangible progress to show for its efforts. An article in the BBC states that the hesitancy of Russia and China to agree to economic sanctions against Iran arises out of both states favoring continued dialogue with Iran.

In the end, despite its lofty goals, the Nuclear Security Summit was only able to collect verbal promises, hardly the concrete accord desired by President Obama. The summit ended shrouded in uncertainty, a sentiment highlighted in an article published by The Economist, who poses the question: so what now? What now still remains to be seen.

Recommended Articles:

Advanced Article: Al-Jazeera: US Leadership in Non-proliferation< a>
Intermediate Article:
Time: Obama Makes Progress on Nuke Security, Less on Iran
Beginner Article: BBC News: World Leaders Agree to Nuclear Deal


PBS NewsHour: Albright, Scowcroft Outline Nuclear Summit Goals
LinkTV: The Active Opposition: The Nuclear Lullaby
BBC News: Stark Nuclear Warning for Summit

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why does a nuclear Iran pose such a looming threat to the world and the United States in particular? What effect would sanctions, as proposed by President Obama, have upon Iran?
  2. Why are Russia and China both so reluctant to sign off on what the United States terms crippling economic sanctions against Iran?
  3. Besides Iran, what other countries are said to exacerbate the threat of nuclear attacks?
  4. What steps have already been taken by countries to ensure that they are adhering to the agreements made at the Nuclear Security Summit?
  5. How does the nuclear policy of President Obama compare with the policies of previous presidents and their administrations?


  1. The New York Times Learning Network: One Step Closer to a Treaty
  2. PBS NewsHour: Controlling Nuclear Weapons: Debating the Non-Proliferation Treaty
  3. Choices: Nuclear Weapons: What Should our Policy Be?

Undeterred by Violence, Iraq Votes

On March 7, 2010, Iraqi citizens steadily arrived at the polls, amid a sustained campaign of bombings, to cast their votes for a parliamentary election. The determination of the voting population, especially considering the violence and the youth and fragility of their democratic roots, was notable, when voter turnout in many Western countries is dictated by frivolous circumstances such as the weather. The Guardian considered the vote a step forward toward a future of self-determination, though contention over the election results might throw this into doubt.

The State of Law Alliance, headed by current Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, won 89 seats in Parliament, slightly behind the 91 seats won by the Iraqi National Movement, led by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. In the wake of such a close vote tally, Prime Minister Al-Maliki and the current president, Jalal Talabani, have publicly endorsed a recount, as reported by the New York Times. A recount, however, could prove to be quite difficult and plunge the country back into an atmosphere of contention and volatility, as illustrated in an article by the BBC. Regardless of whether Iraqi judges deem a recount necessary, the road to establishing a legitimate government, one that was determined by the people, will be both long and treacherous according to the Economist.

A positive election signals a move towards Iraqi sovereignty, which could result in further US troop withdrawals. In light of a successful election, the top US General has declared that President Obama’s plan to remove US troops from Iraq by September 1st is progressing on time. While there still remains a great amount of work to be carried out before Iraq can viably stand on its own, this election was a tremendous milestone, both for the stability of the country and for its demonstration of a democratic Iraqi future.

Recommended Articles

Advanced Article: The Christian Science Monitor: Iraq Election: Will Prime Minister Maliki Lose his Job?

Intermediate Article: New York Times: In Iraq, Even a Vote Hints at Violence

Beginner Article: BBC News: Guide to Groups Competing in Iraq


PBS NewsHour: Gen. Odierno: ‘People of Iraq Have Embraced Democracy’

Al-Jazeera: Iraq Election 2010

Link TV: Iraq: Elections But No Stability

Discussion Questions

  1. What power is accorded the Iraqi coalition that garners the most votes?
  2. How would a change in governing party impact US-Iraq relations?  How would a change alter the relationship between the US armed forces and the Iraqi government?
  3. Approximately what percentage of the Iraqi population cast a ballot in this parliamentary election? How does this number compare with other voter turnout percentages around the world?
  4. What other countries in the region extend the right to vote to their citizens?
  5. Do you think the relative success of the Iraqi election portends a clear path toward a democratic future? Why or why not?


  1. PBS NewsHour: Analyzing U.S. Policy in Iraq
  2. Choices Program: Conflict in Iraq: Confronting Policy Alternatives
  3. National Geographic: Daily Life in the Middle East

Let’s hear it for the Ladies: Celebrating Women’s History Month

As we usher in Women’s History Month in the United States, it is an opportune time to reflect on the unique and pivotal role women have played and continue to play in international history, and the brave women leaders now working towards a more peaceful, just and equitable world; in many instances against unimaginable odds.  The Global Fund for Women and the Women’s Campaign International are just two of the many stellar agencies working to champion women’s rights and empowerment globally.
In January, Cate Biggs, author of our May edition of the World Savvy Monitor on the Global Status of Women (free for download) had an opportunity to travel to Liberia with Nancy Farese of PhotoPhilanthropy to interview Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the female President of Liberia. Their insightful blog is a window into the experience, and a spotlight on the triumphs and challenges of women’s leadership in the 21st century.
(For more from Cate Biggs, check out her new blog on Grasping Global Poverty)
Below is the text of President Obama’s Press Release acknowledging Women’s History Month.  As we celebrate the female champions of history and the present day in this country, his words are worth taking to heart:
“When women […]reach their potential, our country as a whole prospers.”
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release March 2, 2010
– – – – – – –
Countless women have steered the course of our history, and their stories are ones of steadfast determination. From reaching for the ballot box to breaking barriers on athletic fields and battlefields, American women have stood resolute in the face of adversity and overcome obstacles to realize their full measure of success. Women’s History Month is an opportunity for us to recognize the contributions women have made to our Nation, and to honor those who blazed trails for women’s empowerment and equality.
Women from all walks of life have improved their communities and our Nation. Sylvia Mendez and her family stood up for her right to an education and catalyzed the desegregation of our schools. Starting as a caseworker in city government, Dr.  Dorothy Height has dedicated her life to building a more just society. One of our young heroes, Caroline Moore, contributed to advances in astronomy by discovering a supernova at age 14.
When women like these reach their potential, our country as a whole prospers. That is the duty of our Government — not to guarantee success, but to ensure all Americans can achieve it. My Administration is working to fulfill this promise with initiatives like the White House Council on Women and Girls, which promotes the importance of taking women and girls into account in Federal policies and programs. This council is committed to ensuring our Government does all it can to give our daughters the chance to achieve their dreams.
As we move forward, we must correct persisting inequalities. Women comprise over 50 percent of our population but hold fewer than 17 percent of our congressional seats. More than half our college students are female, yet when they graduate, their male classmates still receive higher pay on average for the same work. Women also hold disproportionately fewer science and engineering jobs. That is why my Administration launched our Educate to Innovate campaign, which will inspire young people from all backgrounds to drive America to the forefront of science, technology, engineering, and math. By increasing women’s participation in these fields, we will foster a new generation of innovators to follow in the footsteps of the three American women selected as 2009 Nobel Laureates.
Our Nation’s commitment to women’s rights must not end at our own borders, and my Administration is making global women’s empowerment a core pillar of our foreign policy. My Administration created the first Office for Global Women’s Issues and appointed an Ambassador at Large to head it. We are working with the United Nations and other international institutions to support women’s equality and to curtail violence against women and girls, especially in situations of war and
conflict. We are partnering internationally to improve women’s welfare through targeted investments in agriculture, nutrition,
and health, as well as programs that empower women to contribute to economic and social progress in their communities. And we are following through on the commitments I made in Cairo to promote access to education, improve literacy, and expand
employment opportunities for women and girls.
This month, let us carry forth the legacy of our mothers and grandmothers. As we honor the women who have shaped our Nation, we must remember that we are tasked with writing the next chapter of women’s history. Only if we teach our  daughters that no obstacle is too great for them, that no ceiling can block their ascent, will we inspire them to reach for their
highest aspirations and achieve true equality.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 2010 as Women’s History Month. I call
upon all our citizens to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that honor the history,
accomplishments, and contributions of American women.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this
second day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the
two hundred and thirty-fourth.