Issue Number 246 November 30, 2018

This free Information Age Education Newsletter is edited by Dave Moursund and produced by Ken Loge. The newsletter is one component of the Information Age Education (IAE) publications.

All back issues of the newsletter and subscription information are available online. In addition, seven free books based on the newsletters are available: Joy of Learning; Validity and Credibility of Information; Education for Students’ Futures; Understanding and Mastering Complexity; Consciousness and Morality: Recent Research Developments; Creating an Appropriate 21st Century Education; and Common Core State Standards for Education in America.

Dave Moursund’s newly revised and updated book, The Fourth R (Second Edition), is now available in both English and Spanish (Moursund, August, 2018, link). The unifying theme of the book is that the 4th R of Reasoning/Computational Thinking is fundamental to empowering today’s students and their teachers throughout the K-12 curriculum. The first edition was published in December, 2016, the second edition in August, 2018, and the Spanish translation of the second edition in September, 2018. The three books have now had a combined total of more than 26,000 page-views and downloads


Quality of Life, Part 2:
Worldwide Human Rights

David Moursund
Professor Emeritus, College of Education
University of Oregon

“Our lives are marked by the people who choose to matter more: the teacher who encouraged our curiosity, the neighbor who lent a helping hand in time of need, the great leaders and perceptive thinkers whose vision and innovation improve the quality of our lives. And that's what it means to matter more. It's not about pursuit of riches or fame. It's about making a difference in people's lives.” (Marian Deegan; American author and entrepreneur.)

Improving Worldwide Quality of Life

This second newsletter in the Quality of Life series explores the quality of life of people in societies throughout our world. While this series is being  published, there will be intermittent newsletters on other topics from time to time. Quoting from the first newsletter in the series (Moursund, 10/31/2018, link): 

Paraphrasing from the Wikipedia (2018, link):

Quality of life (QOL) is the general well-being of individuals and societies, outlining negative and positive features of life. It takes into consideration life satisfaction, including everything from physical health, family, education, employment, wealth, safety, and security, to freedom, religious beliefs, and the environment

Notice that the definition mentions both individuals and societies. Thus, as we explore quality of life we need to explore the life of an individual person as well as the collective lives of a group, such as a country, or people within a country that have different ethnic, religious, educational, and other types of backgrounds and beliefs.

Some Past Global Goal Successes

The idea of global goals is simple enough. Develop worthy goals that many people and countries support. Develop plans that are supported by the people and countries, and carry out the plans.

You know that the world has essentially eradicated smallpox and polio. You know that we have nearly stopped the production of leaded gasoline and significantly reduced the hole in the ozone layer at the South Pole. These are examples of huge, worldwide achievements.

Steven Pinker has written extensively about the general worldwide progress humanity is making. His very detailed and well researched 2011 book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, was a New York Times bestseller (Pinker, 2011). His 2018 TED Talk summarizes progress humanity has made (Pinker, April, 2018, link):

Was 2017 really the "worst year ever," as some would have us believe? In his analysis of recent data on homicide, war, poverty, pollution and more, psychologist Steven Pinker finds that we're doing better now in every one of them when compared with 30 years ago. But progress isn't inevitable, and it doesn't mean everything gets better for everyone all the time, Pinker says. Instead, progress is problem-solving, and we should look at things like climate change and nuclear war as problems to be solved, not apocalypses in waiting. "We will never have a perfect world, and it would be dangerous to seek one," he says. "But there's no limit to the betterments we can attain if we continue to apply knowledge to enhance human flourishing." [Bold added for emphasis.]

Measuring Global and National Quality of Life

While we each have our own ideas on how to measure and improve our personal quality of life, considerable progress has occurred in developing global measures and goals. The Social Progress Index has been developed as a standard to rank nations based on how they meet the needs of citizens. It offers a comprehensive framework for measuring the multiple dimensions of social progress, benchmarking success, and catalyzing greater human wellbeing (Deloitte, 2018, link; Social Progress Index, 2018, link).

Michael Green is part of the team that has created the Social Progress Index. His 2015 TED Talk, How We Can Make the World a Better Place by 2030, offers an encouraging update on our world (Green, October, 2015, link):

Do you think the world is going to be a better place next year? In the next decade? Can we end hunger, achieve gender equality, halt climate change, all in the next 15 years?

Well, according to the governments of the world, yes we can. In the last few days, the leaders of the world, meeting at the UN in New York, agreed on a new set of Global Goals for the development of the world to 2030.… [These] goals are the product of a massive consultation exercise. The Global Goals are who we, humanity, want to be.

United Nations Millennium Development Goals, 2000

Michael Green began his 2015 Ted Talk by referring back to the 2000 UN Millennium Development Goals (World Health Organization, n.d., link):

The United Nations Millennium Development Goals are eight goals that all 191 UN member states have agreed to try to achieve by the year 2015. The United Nations Millennium Declaration, signed in September 2000 commits world leaders to combat poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation, and discrimination against women. The MDGs are derived from this Declaration, and all have specific targets and indicators.

The Eight Millennium Development Goals are:

  • to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger;
  • to achieve universal primary education;
  • to promote gender equality and empower women;
  • to reduce child mortality;
  • to improve maternal health;
  • to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases;
  • to ensure environmental sustainability; and
  • to develop a global partnership for development.

Continuing to quote from Michael Green’s 2015 TED Talk:

… in 2000, the UN agreed another set of goals, the Millennium Development Goals. And the flagship target there was to halve the proportion of people living in poverty by 2015. The target was to take from a baseline of 1990, when 36 percent of the world's population lived in poverty, to get to 18 percent poverty this year.

Did we hit this target? Well, no, we didn't. We exceeded it. This year, global poverty is going to fall to 12 percent. Now, that's still not good enough, and the world does still have plenty of problems. But the pessimists and doomsayers who say that the world can't get better are simply wrong. [Bold added for emphasis.]

The remainder of Michael Green’s 2015 TED Talk analyzes the steps needed to meet the year 2030 goals that are discussed in the next section, and he points out that progress in reducing poverty is only a small part of what needs to be done in order to achieve the 2030 goals. Green notes that the world’s countries have major differences in their per capita Gross Domestic Product, but this measure of wealth is not a particularly good measure of what it takes to achieve the goals:

We have countries that are underperforming on social progress, relative to their wealth. Russia has lots of natural resource wealth, but lots of social problems. China has boomed economically, but hasn't made much headway on human rights or environmental issues. India has a space program and millions of people without toilets. Now, on the other hand, we have countries that are over performing on social progress relative to their GDP. Costa Rica has prioritized education, health and environmental sustainability, and as a result, it's achieving a very high level of social progress, despite only having a rather modest GDP. And Costa Rica's not alone. From poor countries like Rwanda to richer countries like New Zealand, we see that it's possible to get lots of social progress, even if your GDP is not so great.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, 2015

In 2015, the United Nations developed Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (United Nations, n.d., link). Quoting from this document:

This Agenda is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. It also seeks to strengthen universal peace in larger freedom. We recognize that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development.

All countries and all stakeholders, acting in collaborative partnership, will implement this plan. We are resolved to free the human race from the tyranny of poverty and want and to heal and secure our planet. We are determined to take the bold and transformative steps which are urgently needed to shift the world on to a sustainable and resilient path. As we embark on this collective journey, we pledge that no one will be left behind.

The 17 goals of this 2030 UN Agenda are listed below. In three cases, I have included a quote from the goals document. I have inserted personal comments for some of these goals in square brackets following the goal.

Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere. [Two future newsletters in this series will discuss a living wage and safety net programs.] Quoting from the UN document:

We are committed to ending poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including by eradicating extreme poverty by 2030. All people must enjoy a basic standard of living, including through social protection systems. We are also determined to end hunger and to achieve food security as a matter of priority and to end all forms of malnutrition. In this regard, we reaffirm the important role and inclusive nature of the Committee on World Food Security and welcome the Rome Declaration on Nutrition and Framework for Action. We will devote resources to developing rural areas and sustainable agriculture and fisheries, supporting smallholder farmers, especially women farmers, herders and fishers in developing countries, particularly least developed countries.

Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. [Our world can produce enough food. The problem is one of equitable distribution. People in the United States throw away about $10 billion worth of perfectly good food a year (McClellan, 5/31/2017, link.)]

Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. [A number of countries provide government-funded national health services.]

Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. [A future newsletter in this series will focus on education. Roles of computer technology in education are discussed in my free book, The Fourth R (Second Edition), Moursund, August, 2018, link.] Quoting from the UN document:

We commit to providing inclusive and equitable quality education at all levels – early childhood, primary, secondary, tertiary, technical and vocational training. All people, irrespective of sex, age, race, ethnicity, and persons with disabilities, migrants, indigenous peoples, children and youth, especially those in vulnerable situations, should have access to life-long learning opportunities that help them acquire the knowledge and skills needed to exploit opportunities and to participate fully in society. We will strive to provide children and youth with a nurturing environment for the full realization of their rights and capabilities, helping our countries to reap the demographic dividend including through safe schools and cohesive communities and families.

Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. [Moursund, 2018, link.]

Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. [Fresh water is a growing problem in many parts of the world, and this problem is spreading rapidly. The problem is not a global lack of fresh water, but rather is a problem of the distribution and appropriate treatment of waste water.]

Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. [The term modern energy refers to the use of energy sources that are less polluting than burning coal or wood. This topic is closely related to global warming. See Goal 13.]

Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. [Decent work and living wage are certainly related to each other. Progress in building more capable and “smarter” robots is an important aspect of the employment issue.]

Goal 9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation. [This topic is related to Goal 8. Many researchers and manufacturers are working to develop innovations that reduce employment.]

Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries. [Pockets of extreme poverty exist in many countries, including in the United States. In addition, a very large amount of world’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of relatively few people.]

Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. [The percentage of the world’s population living in urban areas is steadily growing. Slums within cities are a major problem.] Quoting from the UN document:

We recognize that sustainable urban development and management are crucial to the quality of life of our people. We will work with local authorities and communities to renew and plan our cities and human settlements so as to foster community cohesion and personal security and to stimulate innovation and employment. We will reduce the negative impacts of urban activities and of chemicals which are hazardous for human health and the environment, including through the environmentally sound management and safe use of chemicals, the reduction and recycling of waste and more efficient use of water and energy. And we will work to minimize the impact of cities on the global climate system. We will also take account of population trends and projections in our national, rural and urban development strategies and policies.

Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns. [Crop failure in a region should not lead to starvation of the people living there.]

Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. [Although considerable international cooperation is occurring, it appears that we still are not doing enough to address this massive problem on a worldwide basis.]

Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

Goal 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels .

Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development [Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, 2018, link.]

In my opinion, this is an impressive and very important collection of goals. However, I am sure that each of my readers can suggest additional important goals. Here are three of my suggestions of topics that could well have been included:

  1. The steadily increasing invasion of individual and national privacy now occurring through use of the Internet and other technology (Moursund, 8/22/2018, link.] 
  2. Genetic engineering and GMO.
  3. Pollution of the land, water, and air. 
Final Remarks

Despite the bad news that pervades our daily news media, the world is making good social progress in working for a better quality of life for all its people. Michael Green emphasizes the value of having well-defined goals and measures of this progress the world is making toward achieving these goals at both the global and national levels.

Quoting the Cheshire Cat from Louis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, “If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

As this IAE Newsletter illustrates, we now have considerable global agreement about where we should be going. The good news is that we have been making substantial progress along our road.

What You Can Do

If you are of voting age, vote for candidates who support local, national, and global goals for improving quality of life of all people.

If you are a teacher, here is a group activity that can be used with a classroom group of students, a grade-level group, a school, and so on. Develop a long-range set of goals for improving the quality of life of a well-defined group of people. For example, at the secondary school level the task might focus on goals for a school, neighborhood, or community. The project requires developing and agreeing on a set of measurable goals, doing research on past progress in meeting these goals, and carefully analyzing/planning how to achieve the goals. Whenever possible, get your class or your school involved in working to accomplish these goals.

References and Resources

Deloitte (2018). Social Progress Index. Retrieved 10/25/2018 from https://www2.deloitte.com/global/en/pages/about-deloitte/articles/social-progress-imperative-index.html.

Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (2018). Better data. Better decisions. Better lives. Retrieved 10/24/2018 from http://www.data4sdgs.org/.

Green, M. (October, 2015). How we can make the world a better place by 2030. TED Talks. (Video: 14:39.) Retrieved 10/28/2018 from https://www.ted.com/talks/michael_green_how_we_can_make_the_world_a_better_
place_by_2030. .

McClellan, J. (5/31/2017). Americans waste food because we're confused — and because we can. USA Today Network. Retrieved 10/28/2018 from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/05/30/why-americans-waste-so-much-food/355864001/.

Moursund, D. (2018). Women and ICT. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 10/24/2018 from http://iae-pedia.org/Women_and_ICT.

Moursund, D. ( 10/31/2018). Quality of life, Part 1. IAE Newsletter. Retrieved 11/2/2018 from   http://i-a-e.org/newsletters/IAE-Newsletter-2018-245.html.

Moursund, D. (8/22/2018). Big brother’s growing capability to listen to and censor you. IAE Blog. Retrieved 10/24/2018 from http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/entry/big-brother-s-growing-capability-to-listen-to-and-censor-you.html.

Moursund, D. (August, 2018). The Fourth R (Second Edition). Retrieved10/12/2018 from http://iae-pedia.org/The_Fourth_R_(Second_Edition). Download the Microsoft Word file fromhttp://i-a-e.org/downloads/free-ebooks-by-dave-moursund/307-the-fourth-r-second-edition.html. Download the PDF file from http://i-a-e.org/downloads/free-ebooks-by-dave-moursund/308-the-fourth-r-second-edition-1.html. Download the Spanish edition from http://iae-pedia.org/La_Cuarta_R_(Segunda_Edici%C3%B3n).


Moursund, D. (2/5/2016). Quality of life. IAE Blog. Retrieved10/28/2018 from http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/entry/quality-of-life.html.

Moursund, D. (12/24/2014). Quality of life: Working toward a better future. IAE Blog. Retrieved 2/4/2016 from http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/entry/quality-of-life-working-toward-a-better-future.html.

Pinker, S. (April, 2018). Is the world getting better or worse? A look at the numbers. TED Talks. (Video: 18:33.) Retrieved 10/25/2018 from https://www.ted.com/talks/steven_pinker_is_the_world_getting_better_or_worse_
a_look_at_the_numbers?
language=en.

Pinker, S. (2011). The better angels of our nature: Why violence has declined. Penguin Books, London.

Social Progress Index (2018). Retrieved 10/25/2018 from https://www.socialprogress.org.

United Nations (n.d.). Transforming our world: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Retrieved 10/25/2018 from https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/post2015/transformingourworld.

Wikipedia (2018). Quality of life. Retrieved 10/28/2018 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quality_of_life.

World Health Organization (n.d.). Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Retrieved 10/25/2018 from http://www.who.int/topics/millennium_development_goals/about/en/.

Author

David Moursund is an Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Oregon, and editor of the IAE Newsletter. His professional career includes founding the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) in 1979, serving as ISTE’s executive officer for 19 years, and establishing ISTE’s flagship publication, Learning and Leading with Technology (now published by ISTE as Empowered Learner).He was the major professor or co-major professor for 82 doctoral students. He has presented hundreds of professional talks and workshops. He has authored or coauthored more than 60 academic books and hundreds of articles. Many of these books are available free online. See http://iaepedia.org/David_Moursund_Books .

In 2007, Moursund founded Information Age Education (IAE). IAE provides free online educational materials via its IAE-pedia, IAE Newsletter, IAE Blog, and IAE books. See http://iaepedia.org/Main_Page#IAE_in_a_Nutshell . Information Age Education is now fully integrated into the 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, Advancement of Globally Appropriate Technology and Education (AGATE) that was established in 2016. David Moursund is the Chief Executive Officer of AGATE.

Email: moursund@uoregon.edu.

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About Information Age Education, Inc.

Information Age Education is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving education for learners of all ages throughout the world. Current IAE activities and free materials include the IAE-pedia at http://iae-pedia.org, a Website containing free books and articles at http://i-a-e.org/, a Blog at http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog.html, and the free newsletter you are now reading. See all back issues of the Blog at http://iae-pedia.org/IAE_Blog and all back issues of the Newsletter at http://i-a-e.org/iae-newsletter.html.