Students shadow world leaders in Toronto

While the G8 and the G20 leaders meet in Huntsville and Toronto to discuss global issues, a group of college students will work online to solve some of the same problems.

Centennial College’s Shadow Summit (http://centennialcollege.ning.com/profiles/blog/list) will assign student journalists to address global issues on the Internet via humanracebook.com (http://centennialcollege.ning.com/), a social network on global citizenship.

Ann Buller, president of Centennial College, came up with  the idea for the Shadow Summit.

“The original concept was all online,” Buller said. “Partially because when we first started talking about this with the students, one of the students said to me: ’Ann, why does it cost a billion dollars to bring these 20 leaders together, why don’t they just do it online?’

“We thought actually having people together, and having a more intimate experience of people in the room would more closely replicate what’s actually happening with the leaders,” she said.

On June 24, student teams staged a live summit approximating the kinds of discussions the G20 leaders would have.

“The main goal was to … get more students thinking about the global issues and how they affect us and how decisions that are made downtown over the next few days can actually possibly have an impact on people all over the world,” Buller said.

Student teams chose a country and presented that nation’s concerns as if they were the leaders of that country. Students addressed such topics as technology in a sustainable world economy and women’s problems in developing countries.

Parni Bali, a student from Centennial’s business school, participated as a member of Team Afghanistan.

“I’m participating to bring a different point of view…that is global and fair to everyone.”

Another objective of the shadow summit, according to Buller, is to actually share student ideas with the G20 leaders.

“At the end of this we’re going to publish something called The Book of Voices [containing] the debates and the discussion that has gone on … and we’re going to send it to each of the leaders that participated in the G20 and the G8,” Ann Buller said.

Zafar Syed, dean of Academic Development at Centennial was given the task of putting the summit together.

“We have members who come from all over the world, from the far reaches of the globe,” Syed said.

Those who could not make it to the event had a chance to see it broadcast online at humanracebook.com.

“Part of the actual event is that we’re going to be webcasting it as students are presenting, because it’s an event that’s going to be hosted physically here, at this campus, but virtually on the humanracebook.com website,” Syed said.