Seoul, South Korea, Dec 8 2021 (IPS) - Whether you look at society, the environment, or technology – the world is changing rapidly. Global organizations strive to adapt to this change. The United Nations, for example, has developed the Sustainable Development Goals as a blueprint for human development.
Youth must and should be at the forefront when tackling the changing world. Consequently, a socially literate, educated generation equipped to tackle these challenges is crucial, and many institutions are taking up this challenge.
The APDA Global Young Leaders’ Course is one such initiative. It has just completed its first year, supported by UNFPA, IPPF, and AFPPD.
The program’s founder Dr Hanna Yoon says future societal issues will be complex and multifaceted. She wanted “to create a program where young leaders could learn to explore the relationships between two seemingly unrelated ideas.
Yoon devised the Leaders’ Course to help students develop skills to assist them in dealing with diversity. The course curriculum brought them in contact with unique ideas and perspectives, leadership through teamwork, and the ability to solve problems.
The program effectively combines a holistic curriculum and active learning techniques. APDA’s holistic curriculum, which featured ten different experts, seeks to prepare students for the multicultural societies of the future.
Dr Helen Lee taught students about the design thinking process, which they would later utilize in their projects.
Dr Osamu Kusumoto, APDA’s secretary-general, spoke about population issues.
Students learned how to initiate and manage innovative startups from Semoon Yoon from the World Economic Forum (WEF).
The vice executive director of Okayama University, Professor Mitsunobu Kano, introduced solutions that use medical care for social issues.
Farhana Haque Rahman, senior vice president of IPS, encouraged the students to write journals and spoke about the role of media in contemporary society.
Dr David Smith, associate professor, Anglia Ruskin University, lectured on the correlation between ethnicity and inequality in global health.
Siobhán Tracey from Concern Worldwide Korea informed the students about the cause and impact of hunger.
UNFPA regional advisor Dr RintaroMori gave a lecture on aging and low birth rate.
Kevin Sanjoto, the group CEO at Alfabeta, taught about the fourth industrial revolution with its components of artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and more, which can solve social problems.
Finally, Mr Saroj Dash, the director of the international programs of Concern Worldwide Korea, taught about climate-smart agriculture.
The course also featured various active learning opportunities, which prompted students to develop their knowledge and skills. They participated in discussions, carried out group activities, and gave presentations based on what they — and their teammates — had learned.
These problem-solving activities encouraged students to explore the material on their own. They based their learning on the design thinking process, which allowed students to consider a fundamental problem and independently create a solution.
It also ensured that students had room to develop their perspectives about what they had learned. These varying viewpoints could then be shared and improved as the students worked together.
APDA’s active, interdisciplinary approach sets it apart from the other programs.
It pushes students to challenge their pre-existing beliefs and understand the nuances behind various social issues. It also provides students with the right tools to harness the information they learned.
This process has helped us uncover our potential as the leaders of the 21st century.
At the end of the course, the future leaders presented at a youth forum. The teams then spoke to parliamentarians about the proposals they had been developing throughout the course. The students joined teams based on their interests in the global issues identified.
These issues included technological inequality among different social classes, another was negligent/careless littering, and a third was an uninformed citizenry.
The first team spoke about utilizing technology to empower social minorities and resolve poverty.
Their presentation included proposals like involving the youth in smart agriculture. The second team discussed ways to reduce littering while increasing recycling. They introduced an application that utilizes collective intelligence to map out trash cans in public spaces.
The third and final team spoke about the need for an information-sharing system between government departments and firms. They used the Australian precedent to support their views on sharing health information.
Moreover, they devised a plan to call on the youth to combat the older persons’ issues with internet technology.
After the presentation, teams answered questions and debated their ideas with Arab and Asian parliamentarians.
The open discussion ranged from general feedback and questions of how to encourage the youth to participate in parliaments to specific inquiries regarding several policies proposed by the teams. Delegates also asked the students to collaborate with the youth in their countries.
Students eagerly responded to their offers, hoping to maintain a close and steady relationship in the future.
This opinion editorial was written by the APDA Global Young Leaders’ Course students. The writers are all school-going pupils selected by their schools. This is the first in a series of opinion editorials written by participants on the 2021 course.
Editing: Dr Hanna Yoon