The disparity in wealth, income, and security throughout the world is impossible to ignore, and is acknowledged in a wide range of studies and fields. One area that could benefit tremendously from more study and development is education; understanding how education is implemented in regions where students face varying levels of social inequality, and how it can be affected by limited access to resources and educational materials, will be crucial to advancing educational access and global citizenship worldwide.

The first annual International Conference on Poverty, Globalization, and Schooling looks to foster and start discussions of these matters among educational professionals, researchers, and theorists from around the globe. Taking place both on the UCF campus and online Thursday, February 26th through Saturday, February 28th, the conference will feature papers, presentations, and research findings in the areas of poverty, social justice, global citizenship, inequality, and holistic teaching methods that address and embrace these issues.

“Expressions like ‘The world is getting smaller’ or ‘This is a global village’ have already become so common that, like ‘technology,’ the words are beginning to lose meaning,” Dr. Rosa Cintron, ambassadors and proceedings coordinator for the conference, tells us. “This conference serves as a wake-up call to the powerful relationship between poverty and our schools, within the borders of our own nation and to the expansion of the international arenas. Our aim is to be provocateurs of ideas, strategies and solutions.”

Emphasizing the various challenges to teaching and student achievement that exist throughout all parts of the world, from the digital divide to inequality, poverty, nutritional needs, and more, the conference hopes to improve participants’ understandings of the global context of education.

“Knowing these hard realities, Dr. Olan and I decided to explore how young people and their teachers often find that, faced with life’s hardships, the only safe place to be is a school – a classroom where teachers provide a safe and nurturing haven from the uncertainties of the outside world,” said Dr. Jeffrey Kaplan, conference co-director. “We decided to create a conference – a conference which would involve international players – to discuss this very notion of how poverty, globalization, and schooling can be viewed through the prism of the needs and wants of the ‘whole child.’ The goal is to explore how the problems of the world can temporarily be abated, or perhaps even momentarily solved, by providing a safe and peaceful haven where young people can be seen as individuals whose well-being – physical, intellectual, and emotional – can be fostered by compassionate adults whose sole intention is to care for people with ‘real desires and needs.’”

Conference organizers also seek to encourage the introduction of personal narratives and unique voices in the field, fostering collaboration and shared perspectives that will help build a universal framework for holistic, engaged, and self-reflective instruction.

“I am honored and delighted to be part of this international mixed-mode (virtual and face-to-face) conference that serves as a platform where dedicated scholars look at the notions of poverty and inequality and how these issues intersect and affect their own discipline,” Dr. Elsie L. Olan, conference director, said. “We seek to emphasize global awareness, competency and understanding around issues showing the intersection of poverty, learning and self-awareness.”

In order to better facilitate international participation, the conference schedule begins Thursday evening and concludes Saturday at noon, with sessions taking place in the late evening and early morning hours as well as throughout the day on Friday. Participants on campus will present in person and have their presentations streamed for the international audience, while those presenting from their home countries or in the field will participate virtually in real-time or with pre-recorded sessions.

Dr. Tom Owens, virtual program coordinator for the conference, said of the unique schedule and mixed-mode arrangement of the conference, “The organizing principal was to make this conference available to people independent of location and economic conditions while providing full participation. As the cost of travel is a limiting factor in conference participation for many of our international colleagues, we decided to have a fully interactive, real-time presentation and Q&A so that our colleagues would not need to travel. Of course this raises the issue of working across multiple time zones, which was settled by creating a conference that began in the late afternoon and extended to the early morning (EST), allowing participation from colleagues in large population centers in Indonesia, Malaysia, China and India.”

The International Conference on Poverty, Globalization, and Schooling takes place February 26-28, and on-site registration will be available for those wishing to attend.