The unified nature of all being is not a new idea. The concepts of oneness, interconnectedness and interdependence have been around for thousands of years. “For centuries, we as a race have been migrating to different lands, exchanging goods, services and ideas to improve our lives”, writes Dr Sriya Chakravarti in her article in HuffPost. Political, socioeconomic, religious, environmental and cultural issues effect everyone because no one lives in isolation. Global Oneness Project, a digital education platform, believes this idea to be crucial in educating kids about the current problems the world and we as a global society are facing. “Committed to the exploration of cultural, environmental, and social issues”, Global Oneness Project teaches by telling compelling stories and using an interdisciplinary approach. 

 

All of it is based on the importance of recognizing that we’re part of an interconnected and interdependent system. The idea that one’s actions don’t have an impact on others has gotten us into a bit of a pickle. Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee

global oneness project

 

How it started

Our interdisciplinary stories highlight universal themes with a humanistic lens. Global Oneness Project 

Global Oneness Project was founded in 2006 as an initiative of Kalliopeia Foundation, a private grantmaking foundation located in San Rafael, California. With a mission to support “ecological renewal informed by spiritual awareness”, Kalliopeia Foundation provides “financial resources to U.S.-based organizations and projects whose work is rooted in inter-connectedness, empathy, stewardship, service, and reverence for nature, and who are implementing these foundational values into projects with the potential to create lasting change.”

Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee

For some time I’d been interested in how media could help people become more aware of the interconnectivity of the world we live in. I wanted to explore that subject outside of a spiritual context, which is a very valid one, but I wanted to look at this in terms of political systems or economic systems or social systems. Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee

Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee, the founder and executive director of Global Oneness Project is an award winning filmmaker, musician and composer. His father is Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, a Sufi mystic, extensive lecturer and author of several books about Sufism, mysticism, dreamwork and spirituality. Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee has lectured and taught workshops at numerous academic institutions including UC Berkeley School of Journalism, Middlebury College, Bennington College, Yale, UCLA, Arizona State and Interlochen School of the Arts. A passionate filmmaker, he has directed a number of internationally acclaimed films including Marie’s Dictionary, Isle de Jean Charles, Yukon Kings, Elemental, Barrio de Paz and What Would it Look Like.

global oneness project

Back in 2006 the Global Oneness team started traveling the world and gathering stories. It was originally conceived as a free “living” film library that documented the lives of activists on a mission to bring about social and environmental change. The company has grown to become a media organization and an educational platform featuring various types of multimedia content that had a great instructional value. In 2008, Global Oneness Project became an Honoree in the subject of Activism for the Webby Awards, “an award for excellence on the Internet presented annually by The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences”.

 

Teaching through storytelling

palm oil processing

Storytelling is the key concept behind Global Oneness Project. Cliff Curtis, a New Zealand’s actor and a Global Oneness contributor, explains how, from his perspective, storytelling is a form of activism. “…stories stimulate you intellectually, but they also stimulate you emotionally, and they kind of get you up and make you want to move around. They make you want to feel life more fully. They make you connect your experiences with your world. I suppose great stories will make you value this life a little more than you did before you heard the story and, perhaps, make you value other people’s lives more than you did before you heard the story. And so if you value things more, you care a little more, and if you care a little more you might do a little more.”

We are indeed not the same after we’ve heard a story because stories go directly to our hearts and broaden our horizons. With the Global Oneness inspiring and richly produced films, written stories and lesson plans students can explore the world through real-life experience of other people, as well as the issues people in different parts of the world are facing.

palm oil devastation effects on environment

Lets’s consider the controversy of palm oil, for example. According to Green Palm Sustainability, “palm oil and palm kernel oil based ingredients are found in approximately 50% of products on supermarket shelves, including food and non food items.” Yet, what we take for granted here in the western world comes at a big price both for the environment and the people working at the palm oil plantations. “Too frequently palm oil is produced with modern day slavery, child labor, and worker and human rights abuses,” states HuffPost.

An issue like this one when presented in a classroom only through statistics and facts may fail to get the students emotionally involved. However, the same issue studied through a compelling story and a series of high quality photos can have a much deeper and more lasting effect on readers. “Palm Oil in Myanmar” is one of the Global Oneness Project’s photo essays, produced by Taylor Weidman – a photographer who worked in Myanmar.

 

How you can use Global Oneness material

global oneness project

Global Oneness Project recourses are aimed at high school, college and educational technology institutions. The curriculum is available in both English and Spanish and can also be used by ESL (English as a Second Language) learners as well as anyone interested in activism, social change movement and environmental issues. It is an ad-free and subscription free platform with all the materials aligned to national and Common Core standards.

The stories can be browsed by the media type (lesson plans, films, articles, photo essays, interviews) and specific subject (ecology, economics, biology etc.)

global oneness project

Every month Global Oneness Project releases a new story with an accompanying sixty-minute lesson plan. For example, a photo essay Still Lifes from a Vanishing City by Elizabeth Rush comes with a 60 minute lesson plan that outlines the following aspects:

  • key idea of the lesson – development affects the colonial architecture of an old city in Southeast Asia altering the city’s infrastructure. The city is being rebuilt and is in need of cultural preservation
  • a short description of the background of an issue: the history of colonial buildings in Yangon, Myanmar
  • connections to National Standards
  • how to set the stage by introducing the story in class: the lesson plan suggests starting off with showing Yangon, Myanmar, on a world map
  • how to engage with a story: the teacher has students read the short description and view the photos
  • how to delve deeper by starting a discussion: the lesson plan provides a number of questions related to the lesson topic
  • how to have the students reflect and project by giving them a writing assignment:
  • a list of resources for background or additional information
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