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Center Focusing on Africa, Globalization Launches Multimedia High School Curriculum
Photos by Jonathan Friedlander and, below, LeAnna Fries

Center Focusing on Africa, Globalization Launches Multimedia High School Curriculum

GlobaLink-Africa, a free resource for students and teachers, was four years in the making. GRCA celebrated its launch with African and Afro-Brazilian musical and dance performances.

In the curriculum, students encounter globalization through ... the eyes and personal stories of 16 fictional characters in 15 African countries and the United Stateseach affected by globalization in some way.

On May 11, 2006 the Senegalese performance by the musical group Khaley Nguewelization Research Center-Africa (GRCA) hosted a reception at Covel Commons on the UCLA campus to celebrate the launch of its GlobaLink-Africa Online Curriculum, a high-school teaching tool four years in the making. Beginning with wine service on a patio overlooking picturesque Bel Air, the evening was filled with musical and dance performances and topped off with a three-course dinner. Vice Provost and Dean Ronald Rogowski of the International Institute and GRCA Director Edmond Keller were on hand to greet guests and to mark GlobaLink-Africa's official launch.

GlobaLink-Africa Project Coordinator Epifania Amoo-Adare (in photo below) and I, the project assistant, were pleased to explain the content and goals of the curriculum to an audience of metropolitan Los Angeles educators, to answer questions, and to demonstrate GlobaLink-Africa's ease of use. Audience members tested out the live curriculum on laptops using wireless Internet connections.

Epifania and I were also glad not to be the ones providing the evening's entertainment. We were treated to brilliant performances before and after the GlobaLink-Africa presentation. During the meal, the Afro-Brazilian dance company Viver Brazil offered renditions of a call to the Yoruba (West African) goddess Yemaya, a Samba piece, and a tribute to Blocos Afro carnival performers of Bahia, Brazil. The event ended with an explosive Senegalese performance by the musical group Khaley Nguewel that included illustrations of the use of sabar drums and song to communicate Wolof oral traditions.

GRCA conducts research on the dynamics and effects of globalization, with particular emphasis on impacts within Africa. The overall aim of the Center is to discover the ways in which global forces affect African societies, and the ways in which African societies have changed the globalization process. As a way of bringing its perspectives to a wider public, the center developed GlobaLink-Africa, a multimedia, online curriculum that educates high school students about the complex nature of globalization, Africa, and U.S. policy towards Africa.

In the curriculum, students encounter globalization through an introductory text on Africa and globalization, through summations of four key globalization debates, and, more concretely, through the eyes and personal stories of 16 fictional characters in 15 African countries and the United States—each affected by globalization in some way. Each character’s story provides an entryway into understanding globalization, first touching one or more related issues and then moving deeper into the inter-related causes and consequences of globalization. Ideas raised in these stories are further elaborated by comments, critiques, and questions put forward by two guide characters, who also provide insights into the various facets of globalization. While each case study allows students to focus on a particular global issue, the pedagogy is designed to lead students toward a view of the interconnected nature of globalization issues, and to spur individual inquiry and critical thinking.

The curriculum and especially the case-study lessons are easy to navigate. Students are encouraged to enter at any point in a case study, move forward or backward, and pursue greater or lesser content complexity. Clicking on highlighted key terms in the stories leads to a glossary of terms with definitions, descriptions, maps, images, and other material. Throughout the curriculum, students have available a bank of resources that enables them to work independently or in groups to understand the case-study lessons. These materials include glossaries of key terms; country profiles; assignments; a "student good thinker’s toolkit" of activities and tips for completing assignments; and additional text-based, audiovisual, and web resources.

The GlobaLink-Africa curriculum is a free online resource, available to students and teachers of World History, English Language Arts, or Globalization Studies. It is available at http://www.international.ucla.edu/africa/grca/global-link

Nickie Johnson is a project assistant for the GlobaLink-Africa Online Curriculum and a doctoral student in UCLA’s Social Science and Comparative Education program.

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