National Contours for Moral Education
Across the world, appeals to a sense of national identity are very common. Faced with global uncertainties and fears, this is not surprising. Nationalism can be a potent force for both good and evil. In a website which is focussed on moral education, it is important to recognise the distinctive features of national starting points.
This section helps with that by giving ready access to major databases for each individual country. They include the following features:
- an outline map, plus the national flag and some sample pictures
- the national economies and exposure to climate change
- population and life expectancy, natal care, diet and drug use, alcohol and tobacco use, HIV/AIDS, and mental health
- educational provision
- human rights
- religious identifications
- military strength + weapons trade
- sustainable development.
How to make the most of what’s here
You can scroll down till you find any country you are looking for. Alternatively, use the search box.
If you have the time and want to take a systematic approach, try the following:
1. Start with one country and explore each of its given contours.
2. Then choose another country and explore that in the same way. Then perhaps another.
3. Within any country you find yourself in, try putting on the hat of one of its ‘nationalists’ and asking such universal questions as the following:
- what makes this country so special relative to any other?
- what counts as being rich or poor?
- is there climate vulnerability here?
- in health care does one person’s life matter more than another’s?
- by what criteria can good education be measured?
- Where do animal, human, national and religious rights come from?
- how do appeals to conscience differ from religious convictions?
- should there be any minimum or maximum for military spending?
- what can be done nationally to make human life more sustainable?
Stretching of geographical horizons by exploring contours within our own countries and then extending them from national to international consciousness can reveal surprises which may also lead to a deepening of moral sense.
Another website which encourages comparisons between different countries is www.gapminder.org which has been developed from Sweden. In its BUBBLES charts, it converts statistical data into more visually accessible picture format covering such topics as income per person, population size and life expectancy. In its DOLLAR STREET, it juxtaposes photos of families from different countries, selected according to income level, population size and life expectancy. So far, these photos exist for some 50 countries; where they do, a direct link will be added.
CIA World Factbook https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook
Astonishingly comprehensive and detailed data base covering every country in up-to-date detail. Suspicion regarding possibilities of political bias are healthy, but not east to substantiate. No American President can change the information publicly recorded here. For each country there is a section identifying current transnational issues affecting it. Incidentally, its Kids Zone has some basic games to encourage geographical awareness, visual perception, and code breaking skills.
World Bank http://www.worldbank.org
Perhaps surprisingly, the World Bank Group says its mission is to “End extreme poverty within a generation and boost shared prosperity”. It operates the International Development Association (IDA) through which 173 countries collaborate in providing interest-free loans to the world’s poorest countries, with grants for programs that boost economic growth, reduce inequalities, and improve people’s living conditions. Its website gives access to economic data on individual countries, to the latest global reports exemplified in the chart: 2.4 Billion People Live Without Access to Toilets, and to webinairs and relevant online courses. These last feature on the Learning component of the multi-lingual website, eg the recent postings of Our Buggy Moral Code and Empathic Civilisation.
UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) http://en.unesco.org
The founding belief of UNESCO in 1945 was that Peace must be established on the basis of humanity’s moral and intellectual solidarity. It “encourages international peace and universal respect for human rights by promoting collaboration among nations”. It sees the life-transforming human right of education to be at the heart of its mission “to build peace, eradicate poverty and drive sustainable development”. Under its programme heading Learning to Live Together it focusses on the following themes: Social Transformations, Intercultural Dialogue, Democracy and Global Citizenship, Building Peace, Sport and Anti-doping, and Health Education. Amongst its website’s many learning resources are huge databases and a remarkable Photo Bank.
World Health Organisation (WHO) http://www.who.int/en
WHO’s goal is to work with governments to ensure the highest attainable level of health for all people by combating all kinds of diseases. “We help mothers and children survive and thrive so they can look forward to a healthy old age. We ensure the safety of the air people breathe, the food they eat, the water they drink – and the medicines and vaccines they need.” It operates with a set of clearly defined ethical principles, including safeguarding of ‘whistleblowers’. Its website provides detailed information on a fully comprehensive range of Health Topics, plus a Global Health Observatory data base designed to monitor progress towards health and health- related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Human Rights Watch https://www.hrw.org
This is a global NGO comprising human rights professionals, lawyers, journalists, and academics of diverse backgrounds and nationalities. Over 50 years it has established a reputation for accurate fact-finding, impartial reporting, effective use of media, and targeted advocacy. “We scrupulously investigate abuses, expose the facts widely, and pressure those with power to respect rights and secure justice.” Its focal topics are: arms, business, children’s rights, environment, free speech, health, international justice, LGBT rights, migrants, refugee rights, terrorism/counterterrorism torture, United Nations, and women’s rights. Along with the many HRW reports, the website provides access to its video and photo collection.
Global Fire Power http://www.globalfirepower.com
An independent website culling publicly available information on the following aspects of military power: MANPOWER:total populations and available manpower – fit for service and reaching military age annually. SYSTEMS: tanks; armored fighting vehicles; self-propelled guns; towed artillery pieces; rocket projectors. AIR POWER: total aircraft; fighters / interceptors; attack aircraft; transport aircraft’; trainer aircraft; helicopters; attack helicopters; serviceable airports. NAVAL POWER: total strength; aircraft carriers; frigates; destroyers; corvettes; submarines; patrol craft; mine warfare. RESOURCES: oil production; oil consumption; proven oil reserves LOGISTICAL: labour force; merchant marine strength; major ports and terminals; roadway coverage; railway coverage. FINANCIAL: annual defense budget; external debt; reserves of foreign exchange and gold; purchasing power parity.
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) http://www.sipri.org
SIPRI is funded by an annual grant from the Swedish government following its creation by an Act of Parliament in 1966. It is a highly respected think tank which draws on open sources to provide reliable data, analysis and recommendations to “to policymakers, researchers, media and the interested public”. By such means it is working for “a world in which sources of insecurity are identified and understood, conflicts are prevented or resolved, and peace is sustained”. It produces an Annual Yearbook and its website provides access to the following databases: ARMS TRANSFERS DATABASE– all such since 1950. ARMS INDUSTRY– the100 largest arms-producing and military services companies. MULTILATERAL PEACE OPERATIONS - all peace operations conducted since 2000, including location, dates of deployment and operation, mandate, participating countries, number of personnel, costs and fatalities. MILITARY EXPENDITURE annual military spending of countries since 1988. In addition it gives information on arms control and disarmament, arms embargoes and an estimate of the financial value of the global arms trade.
Association of Religion Data Archives http://www.thearda.com
From an initial US focus, this online data base is now becoming an internationally inclusive resource with access to all known collections pertaining to religion. It is intended for use by educators, journalists, faith communities and researchers. Its scope is cross national as well as national. Its interactive timeline focusses on North American events and biographies since 17th century. Its Quickstats component provides data on topical themes such as: Attitudes About moral issues - abortion, homosexuality, sexual morality; About religion and politics - public display of religious symbols, prayer in public schools; About religion/spirituality - importance of converting others; About science - are science and religion incompatible? evolution. And under Politics it gives views on abolition of death penalty, social welfare spending and the decision to go into Iraq.
Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) http://www.fao.org
This is one of the wings of the United. Its priorities are: 1 eradication of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition, 2 the elimination of poverty and the driving forward of economic and social progress for all, 3 the sustainable management and utilization of natural resources, including land, water, air, climate and genetic resources for the benefit of present and future generations. The website provides access to multi-media resources and a range of focal themes including: Animal health and production, Antimicrobial Resistance, Aquaculture, Biodiversity, Biotechnology, Child Labour in Agriculture, Climate change, Decent Rural Employment, Ecosystem Services & Biodiversity, El Niño, Environmental and Social Standards, Family farming, Fisheries, Food chain crisis, Food loss and food waste, Genetic resources, Hunger and Malnutrition, Indigenous peoples, Livestock and the environment, Migration, Nutrition, Peste des petits ruminants, Right to Food, School food, Seeds, South-South Cooperation, Sustainable Food and Agriculture, Trade, Urban agriculture, Water, World Food Situation, Zika virus.