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An Investigation U. camper celebrates successfully navigating the zip line course at the Langwood Education Center in Louisa County, Iowa, in June 2018. The annual Investigation U. camp, which lasts nine days, is the Stanley Foundation’s lengthiest program for youths.
An Investigation U. camper celebrates successfully navigating the zip line course at the Langwood Education Center in Louisa County, Iowa, in June 2018. The annual Investigation U. camp, which lasts nine days, is the Stanley Foundation’s lengthiest program for youths.
(Photos by Amy Bakke)
A 2018 Investigation U. camper writes in her journal during a presentation by world traveler Dean Jacobs in Muscatine, Iowa. Jacobs spoke to the group about the seven wonders of humanity, in keeping with the camp’s theme, “Wonder.”
A 2018 Investigation U. camper writes in her journal during a presentation by world traveler Dean Jacobs in Muscatine, Iowa. Jacobs spoke to the group about the seven wonders of humanity, in keeping with the camp’s theme, “Wonder.”
Exchange students at the Iowa Student Global Leadership Conference in 2018 broke into small groups to learn more about other cultures and made presentations on how poverty and education are addressed in their countries.
Exchange students at the Iowa Student Global Leadership Conference in 2018 broke into small groups to learn more about other cultures and made presentations on how poverty and education are addressed in their countries.
World traveler Dean Jacobs (right) challenges Investigation U. campers to find something in nature and write about it in their journals.
World traveler Dean Jacobs (right) challenges Investigation U. campers to find something in nature and write about it in their journals.
Model UN students from across the country meet in New York to hone skills in diplomacy, negotiation, critical thinking, compromise, public speaking, writing, and research.
Model UN students from across the country meet in New York to hone skills in diplomacy, negotiation, critical thinking, compromise, public speaking, writing, and research.
(National Model United Nations Facebook photo)
In June 2018, campers visited the Dickeyville Grotto in Dickeyville, Wisconsin, during a two-day excursion to the Dubuque, Iowa, area. Campers also spent the night at the Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, explored a cave, solved puzzles and riddles in an escape room, rode the Fenelon Elevator, and toured a dredge boat and the House on the Rock museum in Dodgeville, Wisconsin.
In June 2018, campers visited the Dickeyville Grotto in Dickeyville, Wisconsin, during a two-day excursion to the Dubuque, Iowa, area. Campers also spent the night at the Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, explored a cave, solved puzzles and riddles in an escape room, rode the Fenelon Elevator, and toured a dredge boat and the House on the Rock museum in Dodgeville, Wisconsin.

A Cornerstone of Our Mission
Teaching Youths They Can Change the World is Imperative to Global Citizenship

People have the inherent ability to change themselves and their local and global communities. When better to start than childhood, when one is so curious about the world and open to new experiences and perspectives?

The Stanley Foundation began conducting its first programs for young people more than 35 years ago, and many activities have been added through the years. As the program officer for community partnerships, I work with a number of people in the city of Muscatine and the state of Iowa to teach youths about our interdependent world.

My mentor at the foundation taught me that the first question to ask when planning any youth program is “who are the kids?” It seems simple enough, but it is easy to be so intent on outcomes, or the content being taught, that one can forget who the audience is. Children have valuable experiences, thoughts, talents, and ideas. They are not clean slates, and we need to value what they bring to the programming.


Our goal is to stoke curiosity so students continue to learn about a topic when the program has concluded...to connect knowledge they possess to questions they still have.


At the beginning of some of our youth programs, we ask each staff member to direct comments to the students by completing the sentence, “By the end of this program, I want you to know…” Rarely does a staff member reply with some fact they want everyone to memorize. That’s because our instincts tell us that good character and human values will serve young people well throughout their lives. The staff members often end the sentence with remarks like, “That you are a citizen of your community, your state, your country, and the world,” “That you can change your opinion based on new information,” “That your brain is the best computer you will ever have,” or, “That it feels good to be kind in some way on a daily basis.” Of course, the real answer is that children need to know lots of things, and we cannot teach it all.

When we teach about global issues, facts are not enough. There has to be a critical thinking component or an action component. Some refer to it as the “so what?” component. Stanley Foundation youth programs are designed to link global issues to the local community as much as possible. We could study migration of refugees on the continent of Africa and all of the contributing factors, but very little would be recalled by most seventh- and eighth-graders. However, nearly everyone will remember a young man from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who spoke about living for ten years of his childhood in a refugee camp in Kenya. They met him; they asked questions; they heard his story.

What Works in Our Programs

Content is important, but how we teach is equally critical. The most significant responsibility of my work is in choosing the right adults as staff or presenters for foundation youth programs—people who will model celebration of diversity, consideration of differing opinions/perspectives, curiosity and the value of lifelong learning, commitment to peace and conflict resolution, respect for the natural environment, and belief in the human capacity to change the world for the better.

Global educators need to be role models and comfortable with experiential activities where they do not know the exact outcome but are willing to learn and participate with their students. For example, this summer during Investigation U., a day camp for middle-school-age children, two college-level rugby players visited to teach the group some basics of the sport. Together, adults and youths were challenged to practice and to support each other while learning something new.

Investigation U., at nine days, is the longest youth program the Stanley Foundation operates. We provide experiences that allow students to learn more about themselves and the world around them. Our goal is to stoke curiosity so students continue to learn about a topic when the program has concluded. We want them to connect knowledge they possess to questions they still have.

The Stanley Foundation has sponsored an annual one-day event on human rights education since 1997. International Day involves middle-school-age children, mostly from southeast Iowa. Children in this age group are really interested in human rights and want to know more about the topic. Many of them have witnessed unjust actions or policies and seek to understand these scenarios within a human rights context. Fortunately, wonderful educators and community professionals volunteer their time to lead small-group sessions at this event.

During the annual Iowa Student Global Leadership Conference (ISGLC), international exchange students attending Iowa high schools come together to form a miniglobal village, where 55 to 60 countries are represented. The attendees share perspectives on global issues and discuss social norms in various cultures, which helps foster understanding, and lasting friendships are often forged. More than 3,200 teenagers have attended ISGLC since 1995.

Stepping Into Another’s Shoes

It would be wonderful if we could take all young participants on a trip to another country, but the next best thing—and a very powerful experience—is to meet and interact with people from other countries. We do this in Investigation U. by inviting presenters who live in our local community but are originally from other countries. These are always enjoyable encounters.

I never underestimate the power of an inspiring guest. It is a real plus when performers or a speaker are from the same age group as the audience. But that should not be the only consideration. If we want children to imagine possibilities for their own lives, we can introduce them to adults who are able to articulate how they were able to do what they did. For example, it is a profound experience for young people in small-town Iowa to meet someone who grew up in their town and who acted in musicals on Broadway. It gives them hope for achieving their own dreams.

When conducted well, simulations also give participants a change of perspective. A simple scenario where teams “manufacture” a product and conduct trade with other teams can teach concepts about the world economy and resource distribution in a way that allows for increased memory retention.

The foundation has served as a major sponsor to our local high school’s Model United Nations club since the 1980s. Model UN is an international program where students take part in a simulation that requires their team to play the part of an assigned country. To step into the shoes of a government official of another country requires a huge change in perspective. Students practice skills that include research, writing, debate, public speaking, interpersonal communication, and negotiation. But they also learn a great deal about topics that no one country can solve on its own. They learn how difficult consensus building is but how vital it is for world peace.

Other Ways We Work With Youths

There is nothing like spending time in nature to encourage people to care about it. If we want future leaders who will speak up for the environment then we need to nurture the natural love of nature in children. Several years ago, there was a national education movement called No Child Left Indoors with the objective of increasing teaching about and within nature. It is always amazing to me how much middle-school-age youths enjoy the simple act of fishing—and yet how few of them have ever experienced it. And this is in Iowa, where there are many lakes and streams.

Community service can be a way to teach citizenship, new skills, resource management, teamwork, regard for the natural environment, and the “think global, act local” concept. Great care needs to be taken in designing the project. If all the debris has been removed from the park but no participant wants to pick up trash ever again, then the project is a failure. It works best when the project is an idea from the students themselves. At the very least, they need to understand what problem they are addressing through their project and why they are doing what they are doing.

Global problems are overwhelming for adults, let alone for children. There are over seven billion people in the world. If they all believe that there is nothing they can do about something, like cleaning up the oceans to provide a healthier environment, then nothing will be done. But if one billion of those people believe there is something they can do—and they take action—then their collective actions will make a difference. And imagine if half the population, 3.5 billion people, all took action to clean up the oceans.

It is imperative that children know they can make a difference and be global citizens. This is a cornerstone of global education. It is also a cornerstone of the Stanley Foundation’s efforts to build multilateral cooperation. As C. Maxwell Stanley, one of the foundation’s founders, said, “The problems we face are global in proportion, but their solution begins with individuals.”


Global education encompasses:

  • Interdependence
  • Peace and conflict management
  • Environment and natural resources
  • Human resources, values, and culture
  • Change and alternative futures

 


— By Jill Goldesberry
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HIGHLIGHTS
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The Winter 2018 issue of Courier focuses on innovators and innovative ideas for global challenges—the role of women and vulnerable countries in mitigating climate change; the potential of blockchain technology in nuclear safeguards; the part the Boy Scouts are playing to keep the peace in the Central African Republic; the possibility that private enterprise could contribute to a more resilient society in Iraq; and an appreciation of the late Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Winter 2018 PDF. Subscribe for Free.


The Stanley Foundation: Part of COP24 The Stanley Foundation: Part of COP24
As a part of our efforts to limit global warming to 1.5° C, the foundation put forward policy ideas to achieve a global turning point in emissions by 2020, built upon efforts to catalyze global climate action by countries and sub- and non-state actors, and worked with journalists to strengthen coverage of the UN climate negotiations.

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The Stanley Foundation convenes its Strategy for Peace Conference annually to consider key policy challenges, drawing on the experience and knowledge of invited experts from the public and private sectors.

At the conference concurrent roundtables are focused on each of the foundation’s three current areas of programming—climate changenuclear policy, and mass violence and atrocities. This year a fourth roundtable will focus on global governance. Roundtable discussion is intended to generate group consensus recommendations for policy change and multilateral action. More.


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Investigation U. Camper Photos Investigation U. Camper Photos
We had a great group of campers attend the Investigation U. program this summer. Click here for photos. For participants only, username: IU2018.