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The Man from UNODC

The Werklund School’s Darren Lund shared expertise with the United Nations on the integration of crime prevention and rule of law into education
March 30,2017

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime met in Vienna to generate ideas for the creation of educational materials that foster critical thinking on rule of law issues

The Werklund School of Education’s Darren Lund discussed the importance of including secondary students in the planning of learning materials that promote a culture of lawfulness

The Werklund School of Education’s Darren Lund was as one of 60 global education and human rights experts invited to work with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna.

Lund says he was incredibly honoured to join UN representatives and government, academic, youth agency, cyber-crime, and terrorism authorities from 30 countries who were brought together for an expert group meeting in support of the Education for Justice (E4J) initiative.

The three-day meeting was held to generate recommendations for the development of educational materials to help teach secondary level students to identify, prevent, and resolve moral, ethical, or legal dilemmas and to foster critical thinking on rule of law issues.

E4J came about as a result of the 13th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.  The document, commonly known as The Doha Declaration, emphasizes that education for all children and youth is fundamental to the prevention of crime and corruption and to the promotion of a culture of lawfulness that supports the rule of law and human rights while respecting cultural identities.

Years of social justice advocacy through teacher education and collaborative youth initiatives made Lund a good fit for the project. “I have been fortunate to have worked internationally with a number of agencies on promoting social justice, and against oppression and violence. I view this work with the UNODC to promote a culture of lawfulness as an extension of that ongoing work.”

“My contributions during the open discussion sessions included stressing the importance of including secondary students themselves in the planning and implementation of learning materials for them,” says Lund. “There is a common phrase in working with vulnerable populations – ‘nothing about us without us’ – and I argued that it could aptly be applied to young people to whom our efforts are being directed.”

Lund’s education expertise also came into play when the discussions turned to questions of international partnerships and dissemination of the materials created.

“I made the suggestion that we turn to regional, provincial, state, and national teachers’ associations and federations. I shared specific examples of the Alberta Teachers’ Association and the Canadian Teachers’ Federation, and their active role in creating and distributing progressive resources to their members.”

Lund adds that he believes partnering with these professional teaching organizations is essential for the success of the E4J initiative.

The main areas of focus for E4J include corruption, terrorism, criminal justice, cybercrime and firearms.  It was this last group that Lund was assigned to on the third day and, while he admits he was a little out of his depth on the subject, he was quite at home offering pedagogical advice on the developmental readiness of students at various grade levels for particular topics and materials.

Having had some time to reflect on his experiences at the UN, Lund says he believes the E4J group is moving in the right direction.

“As an educator with over three decades of experience, I strongly believe in the importance of education as a fundamental tool in preventing crime, corruption, and violence. This global programme takes an important step in promoting the rule of law, justice, and integrity through developing engaging and meaningful resources for teachers and students around the world.”

For his part, Lund says that he found the opportunity to exchange ideas with such a wide-ranging assemblage highly enriching and is already incorporating some of the concepts developed into his work on social justice.

“I have referenced some of the shared materials and resources in generating plans for the next stage of my ongoing research and teaching around the Service-Learning Program for Pre-Service Teachers (SLPPST) in partnership with local agencies working with diverse youth.”

The recommendations the participants provided will help set the direction E4J takes during its four-year lifespan and, while Lund does not know if he has a role to play in future planning sessions, he says he would be more than happy to take part again.