The Global Awareness Society International works primarily through universities where faculty members meet at annual conferences, publish an annual journal and organize activities through student chapters.
To Understand Others
ost activities of the Global Awareness Society International (GASI) occur between faculty members at universities around the world. Professors meet with other professors, exchange ideas and then try to import those ideas to their own curricula. M
“We’re trying to disseminate our ideas to the world,” says founder Chang Roh. “In the future, I think, all education will have a global dimension.” In the long term, h o w e v e r , G A S I s t u d e n t c h a p t e r s m a y o f f e r t h e m o s t p o t e n t i a l t o a d v a n c e international understanding.
Retired professors James Pomfret and James Huber were founding members of Bloomsburg’s GASI chapter. According to Mark Usry, the chapter’s faculty adviser, the group now has more than 50 members, most with no particular career motive. And, of course, there is no course credit.
“I think it’s a group that just wants to understand other people,” says Usry, a finance and legal studies professor who came to Bloomsburg a year ago from James Madison University. “And there is a nice mix of undergraduates— political science majors, history majors, biology majors.”
Usry had previously considered starting a new group to help business students
Courtesy of GASI
Global Awareness Society International officers are, left to right: Madhav P. Sharma, BU; Geoffrey Palmer, Bowie State University; Chang Shub Roh; Jay Nathan, St. John’s University; James C. Pomfret, BU faculty emeritus; Ransford Palmer, Howard University; George Agbango, BU; and Patricia Hopson-Shelton, Millersville University.
make international connections, then discovered GASI.
According to Usry, globalization is a hot topic, which presents many opportuni- ties for Bloomsburg students. In November 2008, the chapter had three days of briefings on the perceived impact of the fall election by officials at the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, Department of Commerce, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and other entities. Those meetings were to be followed by a reception of Bloomsburg alumni from the Washington area.
“The chances are really good that D.C.-area alumni will be linked to the government in some way,” says Usry. “So, that networking opportunity might lead students places.”
A bit farther out is a planned spring 2009 series of “games” with the Organiza- tion of American States (OAS). Students are assigned to represent a country in mock international negotiations. This past year, Bloomsburg was assigned to represent Antigua, and students were first briefed by the Antiguan ambassador, Deborah-Mae Lovell.
“It’s a great opportunity to research and learn about the country we’re assigned,” says Usry.
Some events are purely social. “This past Sunday, we sponsored a picnic with Bloomsburg’s international students,” said Usry in mid-October. Everyone brought a dish from his or her country. They played volleyball and carved pumpkins, enjoying together what might be considered an “exotic” U.S. custom.