Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation
24 Waterloo
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Common Threads VI - The Sustainable Society

Common Threads - an opportunity for members!

Common Threads is the name of OSSTF/FEESO's international solidarity program which offers members the opportunity to travel abroad and conduct research resulting in the creation of new progressive curriculum on critical issues. Our first five projects dealt with important themes which resonated with our students and had an impact on all of us around the world:

• Globalization: Sweatshops and the clothes we wear, 2002
• From Canada to South Africa: Combating HIV/AIDS Together, 2004
• Tapped Out: The World Water Crisis, 2006
• Hungry for Change: Food and Food Security, 2008
• Full Circle: First Nation, Métis and Inuit Ways of Knowing, 2013.

Each popular subject allowed our members to engage in discussions about international issues and the choices we make in the developed world - especially in Canada. Building on the success of previous projects, our Union is announcing its sixth Common Threads theme: The Sustainable Society.

Three topics of “sustainability” are mentioned by journalists, politicians, business leaders, and advocacy groups; what is not often discussed is the topic of a “sustainable society”. The three “sustainabilities”, sustainable resource development, sustainable environmental practices, and sustainable economies, can all be viewed as necessary components in order to support the most important concept, a sustainable society. A sustainable society is not possible if any of the three are absent or neglected. The topic would explore the approaches taken to achieve/maintain social justice, equity, fairness, and democracy by contrasting and comparing two countries, primarily Norway and Venezuela. The project team would then examine those approaches in contrast to Canada as part of the North America. This promises the development of rich curriculum on this timely issue.

Norway adopted a resource development of their North Sea petroleum resource that permitted them to utilize the proceeds to enhance and extend their social programs, mainly health and education. Development of the petroleum resource was not dictated by the needs of “quarterly returns on investment” but rather on the needs of society. Venezuela, under Chávez, nationalized several key industries, particularly the petroleum industry, with the proceeds from the development used for improving health care and education, reducing poverty, and improving the literacy of the population. Development of the petroleum resource was done to improve the lives of citizens as quickly as possible. Both nations used their natural resource for the benefit of society but with differing impacts on social sustainability. This is in contrast to the North American approach where development of the petroleum resource does not consider long term social sustainability but rather on maximizing returns on investment. Applicants to this project must be active members in good standing who are prepared to commit to the entire project which involves orientation, travel, and then considerable volunteer follow up work to complete the Common Threads VI resource. A current and valid passport will be required. The Union will cover the cost of travel and accommodation as necessary to complete the project. We are looking for a team of five OSSTF/FEESO members. Preference will be given to applicants with a combination of the following:

• Interest and/or experience in international development projects
• Demonstrated excellent skills in curriculum writing
• Knowledge of the issues surrounding resource, environmental, economic, and social sustainability
• Skills in photography, film/video making and editing
• Good health to withstand a rigorous journey
• Willingness to volunteer for all aspects of the project which includes the completion of resources and training of members (minimum of one year commitment)

Members must send a current curriculum vitae (CV) together with the application, a covering letter and a letter of recommendation from their local bargaining unit president or district president. The Common Threads application may be downloaded at www.commonthreads.ca
Deadline for applications is 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 28, 2014. Final selection of the OSSTF/FEESO members of the team will be made by our Provincial Executive.