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IGU and UCI Host Panel on Governance of Marine Shipping and Maritime Sovereignty in the Climate Change Context

By Madison Hanrahan

On Friday, February 19, the Institute of Global Understanding (IGU) and the Urban Coast Institute (UCI) co-hosted a panel for the most recent installment of the Global Ocean Governance series. This panel featured global perspectives on adapting marine shipping governance and maritime sovereignty to respond to climate change. Moderated by Professor Randall Abate, this panel featured three prominent speakers who are passionate about climate change: Dr. Beatriz Martinez Romera, an associate professor of environmental and climate change law at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark; Dr. Samira Idllalène, professor of law at Cadi Ayyad University in Safi, Morocco; and Dr. Joanna Siekiera, an international lawyer and postdoctoral fellow at the University of Bergen in Norway.

Dr. Martinez Romera began her presentation with some troubling statistics: emissions from ships and maritime transport currently account for three percent of annual global greenhouse emissions. She stated that by the year 2050, emissions could increase anywhere from 50 to 250 percent. Dr. Martinez Romera explained how international regulation of emissions has caused an oversight in limiting the amount of carbon emissions ships can release. Prior to the 2015 Paris Agreement, there was an “unequal treatment of ships and the amount of carbon they emitted,” and this unequal treatment hurt developing countries. When the Paris Agreement was created, shipping was not included in its terms, and unregulated carbon emissions persisted. Dr. Martinez Romera noted that there are now small steps underway to regulate carbon emissions from ships, such as strengthening the International Maritime Organization and with new policies implemented by the European Union to seek to comply with the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement.

Presentation Slide on the Trust PrincipleThe next speaker, Dr. Samira Idllalène, addressed how the “atmospheric waqf principle” can be applied to the marine environment to respond to climate change impacts. Dr. Idllalène stated that the atmospheric waqf principle is a belief in the Muslim religion that values the idea of trusteeship and can be utilized in a way to respect animals and the natural environment to which they belong. She supported her argument by noting that waqf is an existing legal tool in Muslim countries as well as an ancestral institution with ecological applications. Moreover, “[T]here is a growing spiritual ecology movement happening across the globe, and atmospheric waqf allows animals additional protections by ensuring climate change does not affect their environment.”

Lastly, Dr. Joanna Siekiera delivered a presentation focusing on the legal consequences of sea level rise and climate change on islands and their sovereignty and what can be done to protect these islands. Places such as the Pacific Islands, Oceania, and Bangladesh are just a few examples of states at risk of impacts to their human security, state security, and food security as climate change continues to affect the oceans. Global maritime sovereignty is governed by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), adopted in 1982. This treaty protects international peace and security in the maritime environment. One way to change maritime laws and regulations to protect island and coastal states from instability linked to climate change is to amend UNCLOS. This task is challenging as countries that are not as significantly affected by sea level rise do not want additional regulations, while also claiming that amending UNCLOS will “threaten the security and stability of their countr[ies].” It is important that regulations and maritime sovereignty are established for all states because, as outlined by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Bangladesh v. India (2014): “Maritime boundaries, just like land boundaries, must be stable and definitive to ensure a peaceful relationship between states in the long term.”

Given that it is highly unlikely that a majority of states will agree to amend UNCLOS, another option for protecting island and coastal states is to issue political declarations that create maritime laws that only affect a specific region. This is the optimal solution as states that do not want to change their laws will not be subject to new regulations that will address island states’ concerns. This idea of changing maritime laws at the regional level has worked before through the 1933 Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States. The laws outlined in this convention only applied to states in South America but, over time, the Montevideo Convention became international “customary law.” By implementing new maritime laws and regulations at the regional level, it provides safety to coastal and island states as it would outline maritime boundaries that “once established, would not be challenged or reduced as a result of sea level rise and ocean change.” These maritime regulation and sovereignty protections are extremely important as the security and stability of these states are highly dependent on the ocean.

The recording of the lecture is available to view on the UCI’s Global Ocean Governance Lecture Series webpage. The next lecture in the series, which will address issues in global fisheries governance, will be co-hosted by the IGU and UCI on Thursday, April 8, 2021.

Dr. Jodry Presents on the Joy of Service for TEDxAsburyPark

Dr. Joanne Jodry, Ed.D., D.M.H., Assistant Professor of Professional Counseling and the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program Director, presented her talk on “Educational Transformation: Finding Your Meaning through Service to Others” during a TEDxAsburyPark salon on Tuesday, December 1, 2020.

Image of Dr. Joanne Jodry During Her TEDxAsburyPark TalkDr. Jodry shared her passion for service during an intimate discussion of her first meeting with Courtney Deacon Lalotra, the founder of One Life to Love, a nonprofit organization and orphanage that provides education, nutrition, and health care to migrant children with mental and physical disabilities in New Delhi, India. A mutual friend introduced Dr. Jodry to Ms. Deacon Lalotra shortly after Dr. Jodry received a cancer diagnosis in 2015 that she says created “a new identity” for her, leaving her “more fearful.” Ms. Deacon Lalotra’s selfless and courageous devotion to offering basic necessities, love, and care to children of the greatest need inspired Dr. Jodry to find meaning and healing in service.

With a renewed sense of purpose, Dr. Jodry developed a faculty-led program for the students in her graduate program to embark on an annual service trip through northern India, including to One Life to Love. The students serve food at the Golden Temple, provide care to children, and, in Dr. Jodry’s words, learn to “answer the call of suffering,” as they expand upon their training for therapy and counseling and engage in spiritual growth. Monmouth students will participate in the program for the third time this summer.

Dr. Jodry refers to service as “the cure” for our own suffering and encourages her students and audience to “live in action.”

Dr. Jodry’s presentation from the TEDxAsburyPark salon is available to view on YouTube.

“Be inspired by people who show meaning in their lives…. Really look at the suffering of other people… and ask yourself, ‘Why can’t I help?’” — Dr. Joanne Jodry, Ed.D., D.M.H., Assistant Professor of Professional Counseling and Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program Director

Cross-Cultural Connection During a Pandemic: Monmouth Students and the Long Branch Free Public Library Collaborate on Virtual Service-Learning Storytelling Project

Co-authored by Emily O’Sullivan and Madison Hanrahan

Throughout the Fall 2020 semester, students in Dr. Alison Maginn’s FS300A Advanced Spanish Conversation and Oral Discourse course collaborated with the Long Branch Free Public Library on a co-creative, reciprocal service-learning storytelling project that adapted to pandemic-related restrictions and fostered lasting connections among all parties involved. Though students enrolled in Dr. Maginn’s course during previous semesters participated in an intercultural mentoring program based within the library’s facilities, COVID-19 forced the latter to close its doors to the public in March. Accordingly, Dr. Maginn consulted with the Children’s Librarian, Nekesha Marshall, to devise an alternative service-learning structure that would best assist Long Branch in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

Image of Reya FosterUltimately, Marshall identified a need for virtual storytelling content that would provide Spanish-speaking children with educational resources during the library’s closure. Given the growing immigrant populations within Long Branch and in nearby towns, many families increasingly rely on such resources to help their children successfully navigate school systems in which the language of instruction differs from their primary languages spoken at home. With this in mind, Marshall suggested that each Monmouth student select a children’s book written in Spanish from the library’s collection so that they could practice reading and performing the story. After working on their oral presentations throughout the semester, students would then record themselves reading the stories and upload these videos to the library’s webpage and YouTube account for local children and their families to view remotely.

Image of Dr. Alison MaginnNotably, this exercise entailed immense benefits for the project’s student participants, challenging them to refine their oral communication skills for a purpose greater than themselves. As Dr. Maginn explained, “Storytelling is quite a task, even in your own language. You have to really practice enunciating clearly and delivering a bit of dramatization so that the story is accessible for little kids.” Moreover, the project demonstrated how foreign language instruction functions as a critical component of promoting global understanding. In Dr. Maginn’s words, “Language is never just language: language is language and culture. So, when students study language at Monmouth, they are always studying a language in context, and one of the big things we emphasize in language instruction is that there are both similarities and differences amongst cultures that we should embrace rather than be afraid of… Whether it be through readings, videos, or live discussions with native speakers, we encourage students to engage in critical thinking and to move beyond initial gut reactions, and language allows us to do this so well because it necessitates that one try to understand things that may be different from what they’re used to.”

When asked about the project’s relevance to the IGU’s core value of cross-cultural awareness, she continued, “Even though [with this project] we were only a few miles away from the library, we definitely crossed borders because our students were working with a community that most of them did not know much about. Many of our students had never previously worked with recent immigrant families, so there was a great opportunity for them to open up a conversation and dialogue. Then, in class, we supported this learning experience with readings about social issues for immigrants in the United States, always making sure to back up the service learning with meaningful context.”

Image of Isabella LeakDespite Monmouth students’ inability to meet the children for whom they read, their participation in the project greatly enhanced both their Spanish-speaking skills and connection to Monmouth’s surrounding communities. When recalling her experiences while completing the project, freshman Isabella Leak detailed, “Every day, I would go through my story and practice enunciating all of the words to make sure that I would be able to speak clearly for the kids on the video… Just by reading the book, practicing the vocabulary, and making sure my accent was good, my Spanish improved… but I also developed a greater understanding of how Spanish connects us to our community and to other people.” Though facilitating such connection during a pandemic may seem daunting, the service-learning experience proved a remarkable success, with Leak concluding that, “This project definitely opened my eyes and made me realize how lucky people who speak English as their first language are, and I think we overlook that privilege and do not really acknowledge it. However, it’s really important for us as students to understand that point… being able to teach [Spanish] and connect to other people was my biggest takeaway; I really learned the value of language and connection with other people.”

Image of Janisse DesverneyIn short, Dr. Maginn’s course allowed Monmouth University students to practically apply their Spanish language skills while promoting awareness and understanding of Spanish-speaking communities in and around West Long Branch. Ultimately, its model of community-driven work could be a steppingstone toward a substantive addition to Monmouth University. The project reinforced her students’ language skills, all while granting them new experiences that helped them grow as people and empowering the communities around them. Following this lead, service-learning practitioners should seriously consider adopting similar approaches and understand that rich cross-cultural connections are possible and transpiring daily, even in the midst of a pandemic.

To access Monmouth University students’ finished products, please visit the Long Branch Free Public Library website or the library’s YouTube account.

World Cinema Series: Virtual Discussion of “Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain” Docudrama Co-Hosted by the Institute for Global Understanding

By Courtney Gosse

The Institute for Global Understanding (IGU) co-hosted a film discussion based on Ravi Kumar’s 2014 film, Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain, as part of the 2020-2021 World Cinema Series on January 26 at 7:30 p.m. This event was moderated by Dr. Thomas Pearson, Professor in the Department of History and Anthropology. The faculty discussants for this film were Dr. Datta Naik, Professor of Chemistry, and Dr. Marina Vujnovic, Associate Professor of Communication aBhopal: Prayer for Rain Posternd a specialist in global communications.

The film was released on the 30th anniversary of the Union Carbide disaster, which occurred December 2-3, 1984 in Bhopal, India. The film analyzes the causes of the chemical leak and vapor spread that killed as many as 10,000 people in Bhopal, along with Union Carbide corporate leadership’s responsibility, its local operatives in Bhopal, and local officials’ complicity in creating the conditions that led to the environmental catastrophe, their efforts to avoid accountability, and the disaster’s legacy. The film allows viewers to adequately examine the interdependence among human communities and the natural world; if one side of the relationship is affected, both sides then become affected. As disasters continue to persist today, due to climate change and human errors, there are many lessons that can be learned from analyzing what is considered the world’s worst industrial disaster: the catastrophe of Bhopal.

Information About the Film
The director, Ravi Kumar, is a famous Bollywood actor and director. He was inspired to make the film as early as 2004 after reading Sunjoy Hazarika’s Bhopal, the lessons of a tragedy. He discovered that few members of the younger generations knew about the Bhopal disaster, which fascinated him, and pushed him to believe that this was a film that needed to be made.

In 2010, unfortunately, Kumar ran into the problem of getting the film released. His efforts to release the film were plagued by controversy as the Dow Chemical company, which acquired what had been Union Carbide in 2001, blocked efforts to screen the film. Local activists in Bhopal also had real concerns about the film’s message. However, this did not stop Kumar from completing the film’s production. Next, when the film was considered complete, Kumar then faced another problem: getting a distributor to finance the film’s release. A film in which thousands of people died in the most horrible ways would prove to be a difficult endeavor in this regard. Kumar eventually managed, with the help of actor Martin Sheen, to screen the film at a few different international film festivals. As a result of these events, the film began attracting a larger audience, which simply provided more attention to the Bhopal tragedy. Therefore, Kumar decided to show the film on the 30th anniversary of the event with a premiere in Bhopal.

Discussion with Dr. Datta Naik about Toxicity
Image of Dr. Datta NaikDr. Naik provided viewers with an explanation of what happened logistically regarding the Union Carbide product’s toxicity and why it had killed so many people in Bhopal in 1984. To begin, Union Carbide was making and selling a toxic pesticide, Sevine, made from MIC (methyl isocyanate), which was made at the plant, and 1-naphthol, which was outsourced from another location. The chemical compound MIC is extremely toxic; the threshold limit value set by the American Conference on Government Industrial Hygienists is 0.02 parts per million (ppm). Although the MIC’s odor cannot be detected at 5 ppm by most people, its potent lachrymal properties provide an excellent warning of its presence. (At 2-4 ppm, subjects’ eyes are irritated, the first sign of exposure.)

Sevine Composition ScreenshotNext, MIC was created in large quantities at the Union Carbide plant and needed to be kept cool (near the freezing point) when not in use, which was the case in Bhopal. The chemical was then kept in large 60-ton tanks while waiting to be utilized properly. The chemical leak started from these storage tanks due to lack of specific protocols being followed, as well as the event itself, which was the MIC reacting with other chemicals and escaping into the atmosphere. Several protocols were not followed: (1) the tank’s refrigeration was off, (2) one out of the three tanks was empty, and (3) the other two tanks Image of Tanks were filled more than halfway (~30 tons of MIC). The chemical reaction that took place was due to an operation error during the rinsing of the vent pipes; water flowed into the MIC storage tank, which is when everything started to go wrong. An exothermic reaction between MIC and water occurred, producing intense heat in the tank’s confined space. The temperature and pressure started to rise, which caused part of the MIC distillates to decompose and to generate hydrogen chloride gas. This gas formed hydrochloric acid with water (another exothermic reaction) and corroded the stainless-steel tank, dissolving it into iron. The dissolved iron, acting as a catalyst, caused a trimerization reaction to produce trimethyl isocyanate (a solid). This trimerization reaction did not go into the atmosphere, but rather was exothermic and produced extreme heat, which simply increased the temperature and pressure in the tank, reaching 250 °C (482 °F), causing the tanks to rupture. Eventually, the toxic MIC gas along with several other toxic gases, all heavier than air, leaked out of the tank and into the plant, and then finally into the low atmosphere of Bhopal.

Image of Another TankLastly, due to misinformation and lack of education regarding the chemicals being held and produced at Union Carbide, essential workers, staff members, and even the local community knew nothing about how to treat the symptoms that were present during the gas leak. Also, Union Carbide had not conducted emergency drill or training prior to the incident, which is unfortunate because all that needed to be done to escape the inhalation of the toxic gas was to run to higher ground. Therefore, due to lack of education and training, thousands of people were then greatly affected by this horrific event. In fact, the official immediate death toll was 2,259. Then, in 1991, after being reassessed, the total count was 3,928 deaths. However, unofficial total deaths are estimated to be around 14,410. Also, the amount of people injured during this event is estimated to be 574,000. To put this into perspective, Bhopal’s population in 1984 was 850,00; therefore, over half of the population was affected. Overall, there were many potential efforts that could have prevented this disaster.


Discussion with Dr. Vujnovic on Corporate Social Responsibility
Image of Dr. Marina VujnovicDr. Vujnovic helped viewers better understand Union Carbide’s failure to exercise responsibility (now called Dow Chemical Company) for this event that occurred more than three decades ago. She also explained how the attitude portrayed toward this disaster, along with the lack of a coordinated response, shows exactly how not to do crisis management: “delayed, denied, and deflected.” The story of Bhopal is simply about collusion between governments (both Indian and American), along with large corporate powers. The groups involved continue to obstruct justice for the Bhopal disaster’s victims due to lack of enforcement regarding liability. For example, even today, the company continues to refuse to provide basic information regarding the disaster to reporters, constantly giving excuses and blaming the local government as well as the Bhopal community for the crisis. However, legal documentation indicates that everything is traced back to Warren Anderson, the former CEO of Union Carbide. Anderson had signed the paperwork knowing that there would be safety issues at the Bhopal location simply for the purpose of cost-saving measures. The documents eventually surfaced in 1981 proving this, along with the number of employees hired and fired, as well as the lack of safety training protocols throughout the company’s locations.

Banner Reading Mourn the Dead Fight for the LivingAnother example of corruption is the settlement to which Union Carbide agreed with the U.S. and Indian governments. The company agreed to this settlement to save its image and reputation, but the money was given to the Indian government to provide each victim and family with proper compensation (around $1,000 per victim). However, the Indian government enacted the Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster Act in 1985, which enabled the government to act as a legal representative for the victims. Therefore, once this money was paid, the Indian government did not give all the money to the victims and instead kept most of the estimated $370 million in its own coffers. The victims and their families continue to campaign in the hope that they will one day receive proper compensation for the disaster.

Image of Rashida Bee and Champadevi ShuklaOn a more positive note, although there was a lack of global support and attention given to the Bhopal disaster, a nonprofit organization, the Chingari Trust, continues to help combat the disaster’s effects on the local community. Founded by survivors Rashida Bee and Champadevi Shukla in 2006, the organization provides economic and livelihood support programs primarily to women and children in the affected area.

Overall, what can be taken from this film and the event that it depicts is that there is absolutely no justice without proper accountability. Multinational corporations, like Union Carbide, always seem to be in the race for the bottom line, yet, where are the ethics in this approach? It seems that the bottom line is always put first, before human decency or proper respect for human rights. The U.S. approach to conducting international business must change. It cannot be about what is allowable; it needs to be about what is a proper and safe way of conducting business (i.e., protecting people and protecting the environment). Although the role of governments is important in these situations, the ultimate responsibility lies with the corporations themselves. It is simple: Do not take advantage of vulnerable communities and adopt ethical practices in your work.

Inaugural Scholarly Speaker Series

By Deanna Venezio

On November 20, 2020, we welcomed Dr. Migalí Armillas-Tiseyra, an Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at Penn State University, for her lecture, The Dictator Novel: Writers and Politics in the Global South and discussion as the inaugural Scholarly Speaker Series event. The English department’s Graduate Director, Dr. Mary Kate Azcuy, described the newly developed Scholarly Speaker Series’ relevance and importance for Monmouth University: “We started this Series to introduce students to scholars who are working in critical new fields of inquiry and discovery in which we engage our graduate programs—in literature, rhetoric and writing, and creative writing—and interdisciplinary conversations with gender, intersectionality, and global issues; thus, our collaboration with PGIS and IGU. These scholars introduce their current work via a short lecture and then discuss their research, writing process, and scholarly endeavors via a question-and-answer period with the audience.”

Dr. Armillas-Tiseyra’s Zoom presentation delivered astute discourse for our students. Her lecture included the opening pages of The Dictator Novel,’ where she discusses the importance of the dictator being a “fictional character removed from historical references”:

To read the dictator novel solely for its attack on the dictator obscures its examination of the systems within which dictatorship takes shape. Such readings risk overlooking the complex ways in which novels about dictatorship also intervene in larger debates, whether on the internal difficulties of national consolidation, the role of external and global force in sustaining dictatorship, or even the political function of writing itself. (Armillas-Tiseyra 4)

Not only does she suggest a more open mind when understanding African and Latin American literature, with a focus on the “intersection of large-scale comparative frameworks and political system,” but she applies theoretical discussions and debates regarding the systems.

She taught us that the dictator as a character is often absent in a majority of a novel’s content and focuses on the narrative and how characters work their way through these environments through “socially charged” rhetoric. We come to learn how these dictatorships came to fruition in the first place. With that being said, she has a compelling ability to tell crucial stories with grace and conviction.

“We don’t really see the dictator novel being written in America, but Magali’s work is so important because it highlights the parallels we do have in our political system. It’s as relevant as ever. Her work also reminds us of what great art and literature are supposed to do.” — Assistant Professor Alex Gilvarry, Director, MFA in Creative Writing

Additional dictator novels recommended by Dr. Armillas-Tiseyra:

  • Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa
  • The General in His Labyrinth by Tomás Eloy Martínez
  • Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa The General in His Labyrinth by Tomás Eloy Martínez Wizard of Crow by Ngugi wa Thiong’o


15th Annual Social Work Teach-in: Covid Confessions

Co-authored by Emilia Intili and Courtney Gosse

The Social Work Society and School of Social Work hosted their 15th Annual Teach-in via Zoom on November 7, 2021. The event was co-sponsored by the Institute for Global Understanding. The teach-in’s theme was “Quarantine Confessions: How it took a global pandemic to shed light on some of the most pressing societal issues in the United States.” The teach-in was not limited to Social Work students; it was open to anyone interested and available to attend, which resulted in a remarkably successful turnout of local and national students and community members. The virtual conference’s keynote speaker, Senator Vin Gopal, discussed the state of affairs and provided insights on what he has been working on from a policy perspective around COVID-19 and the continued struggles New Jersey faces. The teach-in also consisted of panel discussions on the economic, health, and educational aspects of COVID-19, which were hosted by members of the Social Work Society’s Executive Board.

The Economic Panel consisted of Christina Tello from Affordable Housing Alliance (Neptune, NJ), Paola Marin from Community Affairs & Resources Center (Asbury Park, NJ), and Debbie Keszler from Reformation Food Pantry (West Long Branch, NJ). The moderators of this panel where Olivia Monahan (Vice President) and Jamie Terrone (Co-President). Tello informed participants about the increased risk of homelessness among Americans, amidst COVID-19, due to the increased rate of unemployment. Because of this, Tello called for increased access to affordable housing to reduce homelessness throughout the county. Marin discussed the variety of services that CARC provides for the local community, focusing on the importance of the multilingual and multicultural aspects. Due to the increased immigrant and refugee populations within the community, CARC discussed the issues surrounding the lack of access to these services. Also, due to the pandemic, Kreszler noted that community organizations have encountered more issues as a result of the significant loss of volunteers, which has impacted organizations’ abilities to serve their communities. Overall, this discussion allowed students to become aware of the community resources that are available and the contacts that were able to be made throughout this event.

The Health Panel consisted of Dr. Rose Knapp from Family Urgent Care (Oakhurst, NJ); John Koufos, the National Director of Reentry Initiatives at Right on Crime and the Executive Director of Safe Streets & Second Chances; and Janet Lee from 180 Turning Lives Around. This panel was moderated by Brianna Rudolph (Treasurer) and Brittany Macaluso (Co-President). Regardless of the setting, whether a hospital, prison, or unsafe environment, the speakers stressed the importance of coming together during these times to support and protect each other from the violence and chaos in the world today. The speakers emphasized the need to support one another’s mental and physical health in these challenging times and how self-care should be a priority in everyone’s activities.

The Education Panel consisted of Suzanne Keller from The SOURCE at Red Bank Regional High School, Jenai Bacote (student), Diana Robles (student), and Brittany Dein (student). The moderator of this event was Marissa Henderson (Event Chair). Education has changed dramatically, with the rise of virtual learning, whereby teaching and learning have become challenging and burdensome to all participants involved. Teachers are now required to innovate their lesson plans and students are forced to focus in unusual environments for extended periods. Despite these persistent challenges, both sides are encouraged to come together to help and support each other.

Although most participants have been exhausted with the topic of COVID-19, the event addressed ways in which we can continue to move forward, living our lives while coexisting with the pandemic. It is also important for individuals to continue educating themselves and remain open to learning new things. We are all powerful in what we can do; however, our lifelong learning and adapting can enable us to be powerful in a positive way. Therefore, the call to action for all participants of this event is to consider the information provided and implement new and innovative solutions to the ongoing issues related to COVID-19.

IGU co-sponsors Virtual Diwali Event with ‘One Life to Love’

In 2010, Courtney Deacon Lalotra made a last-minute decision to join a group of fellow alumni and professors on a trip to India. Courtney fell in love with the country and the people. One month later, Courtney did not return to the USA with the rest of the group. During this time in India, Courtney moved into a slum in Delhi and developed relationships with the children of the slum and had a vision for them. Courtney then decided to take a step of faith and open a home for abandoned and orphaned children with social needs. In 2014, with the support of family, friends, and her hometown church, “One Life to Love” opened its doors and began rescuing children from the streets and slums.

Diwali is a five-day festival of lights, celebrated by millions of Indians across the world. One of the most popular festivals of Hinduism, Diwali symbolizes the spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.”

On November 14, 2020, “One Life to Love” virtually celebrated Diwali, co-sponsored by INDspire Tours, Senator Vin Gopal, and the IGU. The event started with a message from the founder and President Courtney Lalotra, followed by the meaning of Diwali.

The children from the “One Life to Love” orphanage performed a Happy Diwali dance that was a ray of hope for all Indian orphans and children with special needs. The children also performed a thank you song for the event. The event truly captured the festival of lights and reminded us how vibrant Indian culture and its children are.

You can view the children’s Diwali dance here:



Dr. Moscaliuc Co-hosts Virtual ‘Border Lines: Poems of Migration’ Event

Dr. Mihaela Moscaliuc, Ph.D., Associate Professor of English, co-hosted a virtual poetry reading along with Kathy Engel, MFA chair and Associate Arts Professor at New York University’s Tisch School of Arts on Sunday, November 15, 2020.

The reading from Border Lines: Poems of Migration (eds Moscaliuc & Waters, Knopf 2020) was a truly magical event. The poems in the collection detail contemporary immigration experiences such as assimilation into American culture, conflicting identities, and the shifting of language. The event was particularly well attended with over 80 participants, yet also felt very intimate.

The thirteen poets were: Kaveh Akbar, Lory Bedikian, Andrei Codrescu, Kimiko Hahn, Esther Lin, Shara McCallum, Yesenia Montilla, Dzvinia Orlowsky, Alicia Ostriker, Ira Sadoff, Adrienne Su, Mai Der Vang, and Sholeh Wolpé. They read their own anthologized piece along with another Border Lines poem by another contributor. The poems illuminated some of the richness and diversity of contemporary immigration experiences in the U.S. and around the world.

“Readings like this bring people together and create or renew a sense of community we desperately need right now…I truly believe poetry can make things happen.” — Mihaela Moscaliuc, Ph.D., Associate Professor of English

IGU and UCI Co-Hosting Nov. 5 Event to Examine High Seas Biodiversity Treaty

Monmouth University’s Institute for Global Understanding (IGU) and Urban Coast Institute (UCI) will co-host the second Global Ocean Governance lecture series event on November 5 from 2:30 p.m.- 3:30 p.m. The event features Prof. Cymie Payne, Associate Professor at Rutgers University, and Guillermo Ortuño Crespo, postdoctoral researcher at the Stockholm Resilience Center and coordinator of early career professional engagement for the UN Decade of Ocean Science. The event will be hosted via Zoom and is free and open to the public, but registration is required. A link will be provided upon registration.

Human exploitation of the open ocean has increased rapidly over the past few decades. Years of negotiation are coming to fruition with a new treaty to manage conservation and sustainable use of life in the connected, dynamic global ocean. The challenge for governments is to prioritize long-term health over short-term sectoral interests with an effective treaty for biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ). It will be pivotal for ensuring the health and well-being of U.S. ecosystems and coastal communities.

Cymie R. Payne is an associate professor at Rutgers University. She holds a joint appointment in the Department of Human Ecology and at Rutgers Law School. Currently, she is legal advisor to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s delegation to the intergovernmental conference for a legally binding agreement on conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction and chair of the IUCN World Commission on Environmental, Ocean, Coasts, and Coral Reefs Specialist Group.

Dr. Guillermo Ortuño Crespo is a marine ecologist with a master of science from the University of St. Andrews in ecosystem-based management of marine systems and a doctorate in marine science and conservation from Duke University. Throughout his postdoc at the Stockholm Resilience Centre he will be working on a novel spatial management study in collaboration with the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) to develop the first ever tuna-RFMO dynamic spatial management strategy. He is also a part of the UN Decade of Ocean Science and is facilitating conversation on corporate sustainability.

Please register at

The Successful Inaugural Tuesday Night World Music Record Club Co-Hosted by IGU

Co-authored by Emilia Intili and Courtney Gosse.

The Institute for Global Understanding (IGU) co-hosted the inaugural Tuesday Night World Music Record Club on Angelique Kidjo’s album, Celia, on October 20 at 7:30 p.m. This event was moderated by Dr. Meghan Hynson, Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology in the Department of Music and Theatre Arts at Monmouth University. Joining Dr. Hynson was a special guest co-moderator, Dr. León García Corona, Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology at Northern Arizona University, specializing in Latin American Music and Music and Sentimentalism in Mexico.

The album, Celia, by Angelique Kidjo was a consensus pick due in part to Kidjo’s recognition as Photo of Angelique Kidjo's Album Cover for Celiathe recipient of the 2020 Grammy Award for World Music. Time Magazine has called her “Africa’s Premier Diva.” Angelique Kidjo is a French-Beninese singer, songwriter, actress, and activist who travels around the world advocating for women and children as a goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF and OXFAM. Kidjo advocates for women entrepreneurs to help close the financial gap in Africa and has created a charitable foundation, Batonga, which supports the education of girls in Africa. She has always respected and idolized Celia Cruz due to Cruz’s proud African roots. Kidjo’s tribute album to the Cuban “queen of salsa,” Celia Cruz, showcases how Kidjo Africanizes Cruz’s Afro-Cuban and Afro-Caribbean style. Kidjo cross-pollinates her West African traditions with Latin American influences such as merengue, rumba, and cha cha cha.

Seven songs reinterpreted by Kidjo from Cruz’s work of the 1950s were discussed during the session: “Cucula,” “La Vida Es Un Carnival,” “Sahara,” “Baila Yemaya,” “Toro Mata,” “Quimbara,” and “Bemba Colora.”

  • “Cucula” is a classic ode to the joy of dancing. Dr. Hynson emphasized the use of Cruz’s tagline “Azucar” throughout the song.
  • “La Vida Es Un Carnival” represents the creation of the popular musical genre salsa.
  • “Sahara” depicts the landscapes of North Africa and invokes the Middle Eastern style music that is present within this region.
  • “Baila Yemaya” refers to the Yemaya Orisha (“the mother of water” and “the protector of children and women”) and directly connects the African heritage these two singers share.
  • “Toro Mata” (“The Bull Kills”) alludes to colonialism and the transatlantic slave trade.
  • “Quimbara” denotes the unique juxtaposition that Cruz and Kidjo portrayed.
  • “Bemba Colora” references issues surrounding racism. The title, meaning “red mouth,” represents being of African descent and its significance to being voiceless in society.

Dr. Hynson stated that the purpose behind the World Music Record Club is to listen, learn, and delve into the reality behind musical genres and their connection to complex societal issues with which we may not be familiar. Through the events in this new series, she noted that we can increase our knowledge about what’s happening musically by sharing musical and cultural influences historically and transnationally. This event fulfilled those cross-cultural appreciation and education objectives and was an outstanding debut for this exciting new series.