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11 December, 2009

Sixth formers debate global citizenship at the Commonwealth Foundation

On 10 December 50 young people from schools throughout the UK attended a debate on global citizenship with a panel of experts, including Paul Hilder, Director of the Avaaz Campaign. The debate ‘Can we still be global citizens in a worldwide crisis? Facing the challenges of financial insecurity, global warming and scarce resources together’ was a Margaret Quass debate, organised by the Citizenship Foundation as part of the legacy of the Council for Education in World Citizenship (CEWC), who merged with the Citizenship Foundation in 2008.

The lively debate was a fantastic opportunity for students - particularly those considering GCSE and A-level exams in citizenship, politics, economics, general studies or geography - to be in dialogue with a panel of experts, learn more about current affairs and express their views. With the world's eyes on the climate change talks taking place in Copenhagen, the young people taking part in the debate were particularly keen to discuss their frustrations with countries' unwillingness to make firm commitments to tackling climate change and their feelings of confusion regarding what individuals can do to make a difference.

A student from Ellen Wilkinson School said: ‘I didn't really care about the environment, but I was interested in learning other people's opinions and views. After hearing the people on the panel now I really want to get involved.'

As well as Paul Hilder, Director of the Avaaz Campaign, the panel of experts included Eugenie Harvey, Director of the 10:10 Campaign; Ransford Smith, Deputy Secretary General of the Commonwealth; Gillian Temple, Head of Oxfam's Public Engagement Team and Michael Maclay, Chair of Trustees of the Citizenship Foundation, who chaired the debate.

‘This was one of the best conversations I have heard in a very long time.'
Paul Hilder, Director of the Avaaz Campaign.

‘I was astonished by the level of questions, the intelligence and the level of discussion was fantastic. I feel very proud to have been part of it.'
Eurgenie Harvey, Director of the 10:10 Campaign.

The Margaret Quass debate is an annual event organised by Citizenship Foundation. If you would like to register your school's interest for the debate in 2010 please contact Ruxandra Ratiu, the International Project Officer, by email or telephone 020 7566 4130.

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