Stand Up and Tackle Global Challenges, Such as Particulate Pollution and Fast Fashion

2019-09-09 Academic

Humanitas College has been implementing the Global Citizenship Education (GCED) for all first-year students since 2019

Editor’s Note: Humanitas College offers independent research courses in which students design their research projects under the guidance and evaluation from their professors. Students seek solutions to not only university and community issues but also global challenges, learning the roles and responsibilities of global citizens, conducting independent research, and strengthening their autonomy, creativity, and self-management skills. This article surveys what students learned from the GCED and their independent research during the first semester of 2019. First, here’s a look at some of the GCED activities.

World and Citizen, one of the GCED classes in the first semester of 2019, was an opportunity for students to explore a variety of topics, such as particulate pollution, fast fashion, e-waste, fair trade, climate change, and imperialism, from the perspective of global citizens in search of a better future. Two student groups agreed to share their experience: Air Cleaner, which proposed global cooperation to solve the particulate pollution problem, and Arkiki, which looked for a solution to the fast fashion issue.

“Particulate pollution is not equally distributed”

The team Air Cleaner consists of Students Eunseo Kang (Geography, ’23), Donghyun Kim (Accounting, ’23), Minji Kim (Economics, ’23), Hyunjeong Yang (Sociology, ’23), Junyoung Yun and Yunjeong Hwang (Food and Nutrition, ’23). In consideration of groups vulnerable to particulate pollution, the students created a particulate pollution inequality map to mark areas of high particulate pollution. The result shows that, in Korea, rural provinces are more vulnerable to particulate pollution than the metropolitan area, and that among the provinces the relatively more developed Gyeongsang is less vulnerable to particulate pollution than others. By country, developing countries are more vulnerable to particulate pollution. The team thought that raising awareness about the concentration of particulate pollution was a priority, and they began to examine the data and find ways to solve the problem.

The members learned that particulate pollution plagues many regions across the world, including India, South Africa, Iran, New York, and Chile, not to mention Korea and China. Given that no one can be an exception to this issue, they concluded that international cooperation is a must and that we should regard it as a global issue for a sustainable future.

As a detailed solution to the problem, the team wrote an Agreement on Particulate Pollution Cooperation with Governments Around the World, modelled after the Agreement on Environmental Cooperation Between the Government of the Republic of Korea and the Government of the People's Republic of China (1993). The Air Cleaner team emphasized that "Advanced countries should fulfill their development-related responsibilities regarding the past and future while developing countries should cooperate with their developed counterparts and strive for an environmentally friendly development."

Petition via e-People: clothing should be part of the extended producer responsibility system
The team members of Arkiki are Students Youngin Kim (Dance, ‘23), Jeongeun Lim (Public Administration, ‘23), Heejin Kim, Kihan Bae and Soomin Shin (Global Eminence, ‘23), and Jieun Jeon (Accounting, ‘23). According to a survey conducted by the team, 48 percent of people who change clothes more than five times a week are mainly motivated by the self-consciousness of presupposed opinion by others. After the survey, the members wore the same clothes for a week and tested if people noticed. It turned out that students never remembered what their classmates sitting next to them had been wearing. And then the members took the World and Citizen class in the same clothes for three weeks, but they were told that even the professor failed to notice. The findings make us wonder if we worry too much about the public eye and are buying more clothes than necessary.

While investigating the textile waste management system around the world, the team found that Korea excludes apparel from the extended producer responsibility system and has no textile waste management system. Based on their learning from Europe’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) and France’s Roadmap for the Circular Economy, the members wrote a petition that clothing should be registered in the EPR system and filed it to the Ministry of Environment via the e-People site.

Student Lim said, “There is no doubt that the ethical consumption of enlightened consumer is important but the system of ethical sales should be implemented first. Our theme was the lifecycle of clothing and we explored issues regarding clothing production, distribution, consumption, and disposal. It feels meaningful to work hard and take a small step toward a solution.

Student Yang said, “It was a novel experience because as we carried out the class activities, we chose one subject and investigated it through various methodologies,” and added, "It was very useful in that I was able to deeply engage in the subject and tap into methods I had not thought of before. I once again recognized that particulate pollution is an issue that all countries are responsible for."

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