Human Rights, Sustainability and Security the focus for VCE Politics Tour to Europe
Next month 20 VCE students along with myself and Megan Jeffery will be heading off to Europe to participate in the school’s inaugural Politics Tour to Europe that has been nearly a year in the making.
The tour is a result of a teaching and learning experiment that last year gave students in Year 11 Politics the opportunity to develop an extended excursion for the purposes of connecting VCE and classroom politics with the real world. Over the last 11 months, it has developed into a great example of teachers, students and parents working together to help connect the tour group with significant organisations and people in Australia and Europe.
As part of the process early in 2015, the two politics classes elected four representatives each: Iman Azzubair, Rhys Dolby, Naomi Mackie, Mia McConville, Thomas Paizes, James Sparrow, Stella Spracklan-Holl and Sean Watt. These representatives were tasked with investigating a viable politics tour (either domestically or internationally) that they would plan and put to the two classes for a combined vote of approval. The students met regularly for a period of months, as possibilities of trips to Canberra, the USA, China, Japan and even Cuba were investigated. The key requirement was to create a tour that was rich in VCE Politics related experiences and meetings, which would be relatively.
Eventually the group decided on a trip to Europe that was initially given the title of a ‘social democracy tour’ with an intention of visiting countries with strong social democratic systems, including the Netherlands and Denmark. As a group we eventually negotiated a no-frills, blank canvas tour to Brussels, The Hague, Amsterdam and Berlin for a two-week period which then received the approval of the politics students, as a whole. Once in place, intensive communications have occurred between students, parents, myself and other teachers to build a set of meetings and events from the ground up that is quite unique.
With less than four weeks to go, we are continuing to make final preparations, as more and more meetings fall into place. Students are researching and preparing questions. The results of these meetings will be brought back and shared with the entire VCE Politics cohort and should be invaluable material for future study. A sample of some of the organized meetings are: Discussions at NATO HQ in Brussels about security issues in Europe and beyond; a meeting with EU representatives about human rights and sovereignty issues within the Eurozone; a meeting with Royal Dutch Shell at its global headquarters in The Hague. In Berlin, a special meeting with representatives of the German Foreign Office has been arranged that will give the students an opportunity to discuss sustainable energy issues, Germany’s role in conflict resolution and the current refugee crisis.
Special thanks go to Assistant Principal, Nick Murphy, who has worked intensively over the last year to provide support for the tour, particularly around the many approval requirements.
Paul Gilby, VCE Politics Teacher