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My exploration began by watching Michael Greens Ted Talk on the Social Progress

Index (2014). The fifteen minute speech was transformative. My ignorance seems to be a
common theme as I progress through these assignments and discussions. Although I was very
familiar with the term GDP I had never fully understood what it represented. I was also unaware
that a term that was so prevalent in the vocabularies of our politicians was also arguably
irrelevant. Analyzing countries based upon the 12 different factors as outlined by the Social
Progress Index makes so much more sense (even more so from a global, not solely national
perspective). With every country Green revealed on the chart I was more and more taken aback
by the relationship between social stagnation and GDP growth. Why is it that social progress
takes a back seat while a country tries to increase their GDP? This is something I had never
thought about but before but makes perfect sense when I think about our country. The United
States was so fixated on pulling itself out of the 2008 financial crisis that as a result has impacted
our education system. More and more educators are dissatisfied by both national and state
expectations and standards. It can be further argued that these negative sentiments trickle down
to the students in their classrooms. If our country had been more attentive and united on social
issues would our economy have been positively impacted as a result? Our quality of life is
dependent upon much more than our GDP moreover, as the social progress index demonstrates
we shouldnt neglect to seek to improve our healthcare, our education, our commitment to social
justice issues- all of which have been recognized as needing improvement.
With a general understanding of what the Social Progress Index aims to do I transitioned
into looking at the different barometers from different areas of the world (i.e. asianbarometer,
afrobarometer, etc). Id like to include an explicit excerpt pulled from Demand for Democracy Is
Rising in Africa, But Most Political Leaders Fail to Deliver (Bratton & Houessou, 2014) because

I believe it does an excellent job in demonstrating why critical analysis of societies and their
quality of life is so important. In response to different opinions surrounding the idea of
democratization in Africa, Bratton and Houessou explain,
These insights run counter to an emerging view that the impetus for democratization on
the African continent has stalled. Influential analysts have suggested recently that
political reform left Africa too democratic given the level of income [and] that the
continent has begun to regress to its expected level by becoming less democratic.
Others have pointed to a global trend of democratic retreat that is driven in Africa by
Chinas economic expansion and the Western security response to spreading Islamic
Social barometers take into account global relationships and conflicts. As we can see from this
passage, the inability for democracy to be successful in Africa is the result of many factors. The
political climate of Africa is impacted by foreign affairs and economic situations occurring in
other areas of the world. Social barometers remind us that our countries are interconnected. It is
impossible in the world we live in today to progress as a nation, whether that be with regards to
politics, economics, social justice, etc without recognizing the impact of international relations.
But- I argue, if globally we can accept a barometer like the Social Progress Index as opposed to
GDP we might begin to see several nations grow that were previously socially and economically
stagnant. Because accepting the Social Progress Index would mean accepting the fact that a
countrys success is much more than its ability to financial prosper.
The beauty of these social barometers is that they give the people of these nations a
voice. In addition these voices and opinions are analyzed in comparison with statistical data. For

example the Afrobarometer revealed that although the citizens aspire to have truly democratic
nations only 43% consider their country to be truly democratic (Bratton & Houessou, 2014).
What does this tell us- more work needs to be done to improve the quality of elections in the
country. The African people have explicitly stated they believe a true democracy depends upon a
strong electoral process. In order for the statistic of Africans committed to democracy to match
the number of Africans that believe they are currently living in a true democracy more effort
needs to be put into political progressiveness. The same kind of dedication to political
progressiveness is found in the surveys conducted by the Asian barometer. On the website I
found a list of questions/areas of concerns. Like the African barometer, the Asian barometer
seeks to determine if citizens are, Voting in national and local elections, country-specific voting
patterns as well as actively participating in, the political process as well as in collective
political actions like demonstrations and strikes (Asianbarometer, 2015). There website offered
three different waves of surveys. I found it interesting that the last wave was interested in asking
citizens to define the meaning of democracy as well as providing examples of a democracy. I
was unable to find the results or any responses to the survey but I would be interested in viewing
the responses from people from China versus the people from Hong Kong given the different
constructs of their societies. Analyzing these results will inevitably lead to questions as to why
citizens of one country contrast so differently from citizens in another despite being so
geographically close. I think it is important we begin to analyze these differences to seek a better
understanding of what conditions impact a persons quality of life or perception of their countrys
strength and weaknesses. What does political progressiveness and a commitment to democracy
have to do with education? I wish I could provide a concrete answer but I must admit my

ineptness. However this question led me to research it, further leading me Democracy and
Education (Dewey, 1916)- a text I have decided must be read before I begin my teaching career.
I found the Anna Lindh Foundations EUROMED INTERCULTURAL TRENDS 2010
report to be extremely insightful. More specifically this document specifically sought to make
adjustments to their education system as a result of expressed sentiments collected in their data.
Their report revealed that Euro-Mediterranean societies (Bosnia and Herzegovina, France,
Egypt, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Lebanon, Morocco, Spain, Sweden, Syria, Turkey and the
United Kingdom) involved in the survey had stereotyping tendencies. The Anna Lindh
Foundation (2010) believes one way to rid this limited way of thinking and living is through
making changes to educational philosophies. They cite one of their proposals of action as
investing in education for intercultural learning. The passage explicitly states,
Supporting the design of innovative intercultural approaches within the school curriculum
and through non-formal educational programmes, with the purpose of developing and
stimulating critical thinking, empathy and curiosity, and taking into full consideration the
results of the family value approach provided in the Report. Specific measures are also
proposed to raise childrens awareness of the contemporary Euro-Mediterranean value
map and the importance of religions within the Region as revealed through the Survey
(Anna Lindh Foundation, 2010).
The increasing need for intercultural dialogue was also the main concern for Eurobarometers
December 2007 report. In this report citizens of Europe revealed that while they recognize the
importance of cultural diversity they also maintain the importance of upholding ones specific
culture traditions. Moreover, they seek to maintain a balance; they wish to live in a culturally

accepting environment that does not force them to give up their native traditions and identity. I
found one passage in the report to be especially intriguing,
Socio-demographically, the general trend shows that it is men; younger age groups; those
with higher levels of education; city-dwellers; and those who study or work that are most
likely to report some contact with someone of a different ethnicity, religion or nationality.
Respondents with an open attitude towards diversity are also the most likely to interact
with members of the various groups, while those of a more isolationist nature are the
least likely to have met with someone from a different background (European
Commission, 2007).
This statement reiterates that people who live a higher socioeconomic lifestyle also have access
to higher education which also provides them more opportunities to interact with people from
different backgrounds. It is likely these people have already been introduced to the idea that there
are other ways of living through their education. Can the same be said for less privileged youth?
How might they perceive other people from other areas of the world that are more fortunate than
them? I began to see this topic is troublesome. While we can attempt to education young people
in less culturally diverse areas of the world, unless they have the opportunity to engage with
others that are different than them, how will they really transform their thinking? As this report
reminds us, Cosmopolitanism attitudes increase with the level of educational attainmentleading me to again wonder what can be done for the youth in areas of the world where high
levels of education are realistically unlikely. We still need to help them learn about the world and
develop the cultural sensitivity we wish to have the entire global community embrace. So, while
these reports are insightful, how are they practical? They identify a problem but more effort
needs to be put in practical ways to improve these conditions.

An example of what I am talking about can be found on the list of organizations in the
United States provided by the Center for Intercultural Dialogue. I just so happen to have clicked
on The Dialogue Projects page (Kannry, 2015). The organization is explicitly states that their,
mission is to develop mutual trust, relationships and partnerships among ourselves long time
citizens, new immigrants, Palestinians, Israelis and people of diverse faiths and cultures
(Kannry, 2015). The conflict between Israel and Palestine is something I am emotional about as a
result of a piece I wrote while in Europe about a Palestinian art gallery whose aim was to capture
the emotional complexity of the situation through the eyes of Palestinians. It was a creative
platform for Palestinians to tell their side of the story without pointing fingers or expressing hate.
Back to The Dialogue Project, however, I like how they define dialogue on their page as well as
pose and answer the question, Why Dialogue? This conflict in particular is filled with physical
violence; this organization reminds us that rather than using weapons or hate we can use our
brains, hearts, and voices to arrive at a better understanding of why things are occurring. I plan
on incorporating the Elements of Dialogue and Sample Dialogue Agenda PDFs in my future
classroom. I like the structure and wordage on both of these documents and think they could help
students develop a way of critically thinking about varying perspectives.

Anna Lindh Foundation (2010). EUROMED INTERCULTURAL TRENDS 2010. [ONLINE]
Available at:
%20Report%202010%20EN.pdf. [Last Accessed 27 January 2015].
Bratton, R & Houessou, R, (2014). Demand for Democracy Is Rising in Africa, But Most
Political Leaders Fail to Deliver. Afrobarometer. pp.1-34
European Commission (2007). Intercultural Dialogue in Europe . [ONLINE] Available at: [Last Accessed 27 January
Kannry, M. (2015). About Us . [ONLINE] Available at: [Last
Accessed 27 January 2015].
(2015). Surveys. [ONLINE] Available at: [Last Accessed 27
January 2015].
What the Social Progress Index can reveal about your country [Video file]. (2014).