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The Academic Impact:
Education and the Promise of the
Millennial Generation
by J. Michael Adams, President
Fairleigh Dickinson University
A breath of new hope is blowing across the globe -- from Australia to America, from Canada to China,
from Africa to Europe.
It is the Millennial Generation, those young people -- 78 million in the United States
alone -- born between 1985 and 2000 who define themselves by the social commitment and technological savvy
that unite them worldwide.

Their optimism and hope for the future are
propelling political causes; their distrust of a
corporate world motivated by greed promises
to change business as we know it; and their
commitment to technology and service
can transform society for the greater
good. They believe in a better future.  
They believe the world needs to change,
but more importantly, they believe the
world can be changed, and they want to
be part of it. They have the talent and the
enthusiasm and the energy. All they need
is the education and the opportunity.

Education and opportunity are now
meeting head on in a new initiative led by
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, uniting
global universities and the United Nations. The
United Nations and its charter represent
humanity's most ambitious attempt to unite
across borders to secure peace, promote social
progress and confront global problems. But to
fulfill the promise of the United Nations, we need
to make the United Nations more than a
conference table of diverse opinion -- it must
enlist the help of educational institutions that can
inform and empower the Millennial Generation
with global perspectives and global skills.

This is the fundamental goal of the
Academic Impact, an initiative that attempts
to forge a common purpose between the
world's institutions of higher education and
the United Nations.

When he first unveiled the initiative in an address
at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Ban Ki-moon
said the United Nations must continue to open its
doors to new partners and "the academic
community is surely at the top of that list...
we hope to build stronger ties with institutions
of higher learning, and we hope to benefit from
your ideas and scholarship."

The Academic Impact, which was formally
launched on Nov. 18 and 19, 2010, encourages
schools and universities to endorse 10 principles
that deal with human rights, sustainability,
conflict resolution and literacy. These are causes
with deep meaning for Millennials, and they are
central to the UN's mission. The 10 principles
represent a commitment to education's role in
advancing human rights, world citizenship, and
intercultural dialogue and understanding.

Why is the Academic Impact initiative so
important to the future of the world?
With in-
creasing globalization, finances flow freely across
continents as do goods, services and ideas.
Unfortunately, so do the major problems facing
humanity, such as terrorism, pandemic diseases,
economic crises and environmental calamities.
They all cross national borders with impunity,
never stopping at passport control.

Quite simply, globalization has outpaced our
ability to comprehend what is happening, and
education must set the new cadence. Schools
and universities must introduce more international
lessons, language programs, study-aboard
opportunities, cross-cultural dialogues and
international students.

Our students are ready for a global education.
The pollster John Zogby has described this age
group as "First Globals," and he concludes they
are "the most outward-looking and accepting
generation in American history" who bring a
"consistently global perspective to everything...
More than any generation, they see themselves
as citizens of the planet, not of any nation in
particular."

They have crossed the gateway to the global
century. Through the Internet and social net-
working, they interact with people everywhere.
They are tolerant and appreciate differences, and
they want to build bridges across the diversity of
world ideas, people, cultures and nations.

But while America's "First Globals" are
excited about the world, more than 90 percent
say that high schools have not prepared them
to understand international issues. The
problem starts in elementary schools, where
there is less and less room for social studies,
and continues through college, where
commitments to global studies are often
woefully lacking.

Global awareness has to be supported by global
education -- an education that prepares the
Millennial Generation to be true world citizens
who understand the interconnected nature of our
planet and who are willing and able to act on
behalf of people everywhere. Digital technology in
particular, which has become the hallmark of this
generation, can help schools introduce different
perspectives to students by connecting them with
their peers all across the globe and promoting the
pillars upon which the work of the United Nations
is based -- the causes of peace, development and
protection of human rights.

The world's academic institutions can help the
United Nations move forward by inspiring what
promises to be the "greatest generation" of the
Third Millennium. That generation could well
make the world a place we only dreamt it could
be.

This article appeared on HuffingtonPost.com
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UCO Accepted for Membership in
the UN
Academic Impact Initiative
Congratulations to the University of Central
Oklahoma -- first university in Oklahoma to be
recognized as a member of
the UN's Academic Impact
initiative.  

Academic Impact is a global
initiative that aligns
institutions of higher
education with the United
Nations in actively supporting
ten universally accepted
principles in the areas of
human rights, literacy, sustainability and conflict
resolution. The Academic Impact also asks each
participating college or university to actively
demonstrate support of at least one of those
principles each year.

The launch of the Academic Impact initiative was
announced at a special ceremony at Fairleigh
Dickinson University in November, 2010.  According
to a UN
press release, Academic Impact includes
close to 500 members in more than 90 countries --
from Albania to Zimbabwe.  

UCO's membership in the Academic Impact
initiative was confirmed in a public record of
member universities:
http://academicimpact.org/currentmemberlist.pdf

With an enrollment of almost 18,000 students,
UCO is the third largest university in Oklahoma.  
It was the also the first public institution of higher
learning to be founded in our state and one of the
oldest universities in the southwest region of the
US.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon commented on
the AI initiative: “The United Nations understands
the enormous impact of scholarship, innovation and
ideas.”

“We are trying to harness that great power to build
a better world; a world where human ingenuity will
make our homes, communities and consumption
patterns socially and environmentally sustainable;
a world where research receives the funding and
support it needs to defeat disease, deprivation and
despair; a world where the ‘unlearning’ of
intolerance will bridge barriers that still divide
nations and peoples.”

UCO is recognized by many for its innovative
Centre for Global Competency (CGC) -- a product of
the university's mission of transformative learning.  

CGC provides opportunities for students to study
in such places as France, Mexico and China while
being enrolled at UCO.  Fully paid internships are
available in such places as Korea and Spain.

Additionally, UCO's Centre for Global Competency
offers challenging service projects on campus --
such as the planning of international community
and campus projects, cultural exchanges with
international students, and so on.  The Centre's
ultimate goal is to produce globally competent
individuals, emphasizing the qualities of resilient
and dynamic leadership.  
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What are the principles of the
UN Academic Impact initiative?
1. A commitment to the principles inherent in
the United Nations Charter as values that
education seeks to promote and help fulfill;

2. A commitment to human rights, among them
freedom of inquiry, opinion, and speech;

3. A commitment to
educational opportunity
for all people regardless
of gender, race, religion
or ethnicity;

4. A commitment to the opportunity for every
interested individual to acquire the skills and
knowledge necessary for the pursuit of higher
education;

5. A commitment to building capacity in higher
education systems across the world;

6. A commitment to encouraging global
citizenship through education;

7. A commitment to advancing peace and
conflict resolution through education;

8. A commitment to addressing issues of
poverty through education;

9. A commitment to promoting sustainability
through education;

10. A commitment to promoting inter-cultural
dialogue and understanding, and the
“unlearning” of intolerance, through education.