Teaching International examines global sanitation issues

The current sanitation crisis, which according to the World Health Organization affects 2.5 billion people worldwide, was the focus of a recent event at Penn State Greater Allegheny. The occasion was inspired by a yearly event held in several countries to mark World Toilet Day on Nov. 19. According to Worldtoiletday.org, this international day of action aims to break the taboo around toilets and draw attention to the global sanitation challenge.

The day?s keynote speaker was Ian Lipsky, an engineer with vast international experience, who talked about "Toilet Innovations for the Developing World."

The multidisciplinary program also included a series of academic and artistic presentations by campus students and faculty. Presentations included poetry reading by English professor Mildred Mickle, who read "To the Pay Toilet" by Marge Piercy, "Toilets" by T.S. Eliot, and "The Great Palaces of Versailles" by Rita Dove; a dramatic reading of Taro Gomi?s book "Everyone Poops" by the Student Drama Club; and singing by the Penn State Greater A Cappella Melody Lions, who performed "The Water is Wide" and "O Shenandoah." In addition, instructors in chemistry, engineering and communication addressed the scientific, technological and political aspects of sanitation. The campus nurse covered the multiple health impacts of sanitation deficits.

Informational posters and maps raised awareness about the magnitude and geographical contours of the sanitation crisis. A full-scale model of a squat toilet, common in many areas of the developing world, was on display.

This event was part of the Teaching International Program at Penn State Greater Allegheny, in place since 2004, the goal of which is to educate students about world trends by studying different regions and issues of global importance. This year's focus is on the Celtic Nations. More than 20 faculty and staff members are cooperating to explore and reflect on various aspects of the history, culture, and economic, social, and political reality of this region. Course lectures, student research projects, public debates, service learning activities, theater productions, films and guest lectures will be used to spread knowledge about this area of the world. Teaching International is a partner with the Greener Allegheny initiative and the Honors Program to bring lectures, films, and other activities on globalization and sustainability to the campus.