LINCOLN, Neb. – High school students from across Nebraska were strongly divided in choosing the most appropriate U.S. policy for dealing with foreign policy issues including immigration, environment, terrorism, poverty and human rights.
Results were compiled from the 19th Capitol Forum on America’s Future, sponsored by Humanities Nebraska and Secretary of State John Gale.
Hemingford High School students Anna Manning, Macee Buchheit, Riley Wobig, Madison Glendy and Tristen Laws, along with their teacher, Dave Chatelain, were among the students participating in the event March 27.
Thirty-four percent of participating students said they preferred a foreign policy that focused on international cooperation by diplomacy, treaties, trade and U.S leadership of the United Nations to deal with security and global problems. Thirty-three percent of students advocated for a policy which would cut back on foreign involvement and primarily deal with the internal challenges of America, such as its economy, school systems, health care and protections against terrorism.
The third preference of students (21 percent) was a policy that focused on homeland security, halting the spread of nuclear weapons, cultivating key trade relationships and ensuring access to crucial raw materials. At 12 percent, the least favored policy was one calling for the U.S. to build a vibrant international economy that strengthens democracy abroad by following American political and economic principles and protects that system from threats.
Nearly 100 students, representing over 1,500 of their classmates, gave presentations and debated their various choices during a day-long event at the State Capitol on March 27, 2017. Prior to that, students studied a special curriculum focusing on a variety of international issues and potential responses to those issues. Students who took part in the program at the State Capitol then reported what they learned to their classmates in their home schools. Those students were also asked to select their top foreign policy choices.
In a ranking of top concerns, 41 percent of students said they were worried about nuclear, biological and chemical weapons ending up in the hands of terrorists. Students (39 percent) also admitted to worries about worldwide poverty, hunger and disease. Another top response (37 percent) had to do with the U.S draining its resources trying to solve the problems of other nations. Those three concerns have been at the top of student rankings for the past two years.
Capitol Forum is a Choices for the 21st Century project, an outreach educational program provided by Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies. In Nebraska the program is funded by the Nebraska Cultural Endowment, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the State of Nebraska.