24 March 2020 – The fast spread of the corona virus around the world has already changed much in the way we lead our daily lives, leading both the public and the private sector to look for working solutions to handle this new situation. With social distancing having become a necessity, the education sector was one of the first forced to take action and to adapt current material, testing options for online teaching.
Relying on trusted sources for information and reassurance becomes essential in times of uncertainty; as society seeks guidance, it turns to the experts in their various fields who have a proven record of reliability. This of course includes the United Nations family, which has always worked with a long-term vision to achieve its numerous goals for the benefit of all.
Central to UNODC’s mandate is the fulfilment of Sustainable Development Goal 16, relating to peace, justice and strong institutions. Today, with the additional challenges emerging and changing the norms by which we live and are governed, it is more important than ever to solidify our understanding of rule of law, and to inculcate its basics in younger generations. Through one of its most innovative initiatives, Education for Justice (E4J, a component of the Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration), UNODC has developed a number of educational tools for teachers at every level to introduce and expand knowledge on rule of law issues. They are particularly appropriate to the current global circumstances, helping students at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels.
For universities, the joint expertise of hundreds of academics and UNODC experts in crime prevention and criminal justice has resulted in the development of a series of nine peer-reviewed and validated modules – all available now and online. Giving lecturers the possibility of easily integrating them into various courses, whether selectively or in their entirety, these modules are a unique and progressive resource, covering some of the most pressing global issues. The different chapters in each module series are varied and include material which adapts into local contexts around the world, with each chapter designed to be taught in about three hours.
Importantly, not only are the subjects of these modules relevant to any course in any given faculty, regardless of the field of study, but they are also increasingly essential to the education of a generation facing unprecedented rules. The well-being of a society undoubtedly relies on protecting the peace, without which no people can prosper; in turn, securing the greater good means ensuring that the rule of law is understood and respected by all, and that the various factors affecting rule of law are examined.
That is why young women and men need to learn about crime prevention and criminal justice, organized crime, anti-corruption, firearms, cybercrime, wildlife crime, counter-terrorism, trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, and integrity and ethics – all issues affecting the state of peace and justice in any given society, and all included in UNODC’s module series at the disposal of lecturers everywhere for easy integration into their courses.
For instance, lecturers can choose to begin with (or ask their students to complete) the self-paced e-Learning course on transnational organized crime, which gives an in-depth overview of this phenomenon in 90 minutes (available in English, French and Spanish). They could choose to start with an accessible and inspiring introduction to the teaching methods and ethical concepts which underpin the E4J initiative by following the Online Training of Trainers course, designed to guide them on using the Integrity and Ethics modules - a certified five-hour online training course produced jointly with the Open University UK. They can also choose to start with any of the more than 100 E4J modules, specifically designed to be seamlessly included in any university course.
As lecturers prepare to adapt their teaching to a digital environment, UNODC’s tertiary modules can be a timely and pertinent addition to their curriculum, leaning on the expertise of hundreds of experts, and offering students solid facts and contemporary perspectives on the wide ramifications of challenges to rule of law. By helping educators prepare and empower the next generation, we know we can inspire change, together.