Distributed June 11, 2001
For Immediate Release
News Service Contact: Janet Kerlin

Choices for the 21st Century

Damage to global environment is a top concern, young people say

“Damage to the global environment” was among top international concerns cited by 50 percent of 3,000 high school students surveyed in six states by the Choices for the 21st Century Education Project at Brown University.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The global environment has become a serious concern for some, and young people are no exception, according to Susan Graseck, director of the Choices for the 21st Century Education Project at Brown University.

Damage to the global environment was among top international concerns cited by 50 percent of 3,000 high school students surveyed across six states. In addition, 62 percent said they support or strongly support the statement that “The United States should help negotiate strict international standards to address global warming and other environmental threats, even if compliance forces Americans to pay more for cars, gasoline and other products that contribute to pollution.”

Students were surveyed in Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nebraska, North Carolina and Rhode Island after participating in the Capitol Forum on America’s Future, a civic education initiative. The program is designed to engage students in debate on international issues. The secretaries of state in each state, who co-sponsor the education initiative, hope the effort will increase participation in voting and civic affairs.

A highlight of the Capitol Forum was a visit for about 500 students to their respective state capitols this spring, where they deliberated with peers and shared their views with state and federal elected officials. Student representatives returned to their schools to lead classmates in further discussion, and almost 3,000 students completed a ballot expressing their concerns, priorities and vision for the future of the United States.

Among the survey results were student responses to the following statements:

  • The United States should use military force to protect access to oil and other important raw materials, even in situations in which substantial American casualties are expected. 40 percent supported, 45 percent opposed, 15 percent undecided

  • The United States should impose trade sanctions on countries that threaten their neighbors with aggression or contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, even if such sanctions harm American trade relations. 50 percent supported, 32 percent opposed, 18 percent undecided

  • The United States should lead international military missions to stop gross human rights violations, even if this may involve U.S. troops in protracted conflicts. 49 percent supported, 30 percent opposed, 21 percent undecided

  • The United States should accept fewer immigrants and crack down on illegal immigration, even if this deprives the American work force of the talent and ambitions of newcomers and fuels anti-American sentiments abroad. 44 percent supported, 36 percent opposed, 15 percent undecided

“Perhaps most importantly, over and over students report that this program has excited them to become engaged, pay attention to international and national issues, and vote,” said Graseck, of Brown’s Watson Institute for International Studies.

The program is presented in high schools in cooperation with Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz and the Connecticut League of Women Voters; Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and the Illinois Humanities Council; Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin and the Massachusetts Department of Education, Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale and the Nebraska Humanities Council; North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and the Humanities Extension at North Carolina State University, and Rhode Island Secretary of State Edward Inman and Global Rhode Island.

For more about the survey results and additional information about the Choices for the 21st Century Project at Brown University, call Graseck at (401) 863-3155 or visit the Choices web page, www.choices.edu.