Category: Georgetown Magazine, Spring 2024

Title:Collaborative on Global Children’s Issues crosses disciplines

Author: Gabrielle Barone
Date Published: April 8, 2024
a kinetic sculpture shaped like a girl floats above the DC skyline / crowd
Little Amal, a 12-foot puppet of a 10-year-old Syrian refugee child, is a global symbol of human rights, especially those of refugees. Georgetown community members escorted her from Freedom Plaza to the U.S. Capitol as part of an event co-hosted by the Collaborative on Global Children’s Issues. Photo: Shimeng Tong

Since its 2021 launch, the Collaborative on Global Children’s Issues has fostered cross-disciplinary research and dialogue on critical and emerging challenges affecting children around the world, with a particular focus on children in adversity.

The evidence shows that investing in children, youth, and caregivers is a primary means of achieving sustainable human, social, and economic development, all of which are vital to ensuring international peace and security. The Collaborative’s partners are scholar-practitioners engaged in child-centered work—explaining the “why” and unpacking the “how”—ultimately impacting the way students, faculty, policymakers, practitioners, and other stakeholders think about and engage on global children’s issues in Washington, DC, and around the world.

Exemplifying the interdisciplinary nature of the work, the Collaborative has focused on a range of global issues that impact children, including climate change, displacement and migration, child-family separation, COVID-19, and conflict. Gillian Huebner, the Collaborative’s executive director, emphasizes the critical importance of centering children in our response to these challenges.

“We can’t effectively address any of the global crises of our time if we are not grappling with how young people are impacted. They bear the brunt of these difficulties in their daily lives and will inevitably inherit all the problem-solving these challenges require,” Huebner says.

After training in conflict studies and humanitarian work, Huebner felt reasonably equipped to enter the field. Then she went to Angola, where her assignment with the United Nations involved working with child soldiers. She quickly realized her education never included a focus on young people.

“That’s a pretty extreme oversight,” Huebner says, “if you recognize that half of the global population is children and youth.”

With initial seed funding from an anonymous donor and support from the Office of the Vice President for Global Engagement, Huebner is excited to be building the kind of training program she wishes she had received.

“Georgetown is particularly well-suited to provide this training,” Huebner says. “Washington, DC is an epicenter of global politics and a hotspot for advocacy and public service.”

Now in its third year, the Collaborative has facilitated a series of solutions-oriented initiatives that are grounded in the lived experiences of children, their families, and communities.

“We bring young people and those with lived experience into everything we do,” Huebner says. “Creating opportunities for children and youth to share their views and experiences in research, policy, and practice is not only their right—it is critical to their resilience and to the efficacy of our approaches.

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