CSIS Partners with AFS to Launch Global Social Innovation Curriculum for High School Students

Anna Dausman
March 11, 2021
Programs & Research

The Center for Social Impact Strategy is thrilled to announce a new partnership with AFS Intercultural Programs. Over the past year, our teams have collaborated closely to deliver a new social innovation curriculum designed for high school students engaged in intercultural programs abroad, who want to create positive social impact: Global You Changemaker.

AFS provides intercultural learning opportunities to help people develop the knowledge, skills and understanding needed to create a more just and peaceful world. This new program from AFS and CSIS is a response to students’ desire to do more within the communities that host them, and to deliver on AFS’ mission developing active global citizens with a passion for making a difference. AFS summarized the need for this program in their recent announcement:

Research studies show that young people are hungry for opportunities to change the world. The latest PISA Global Competence Assessment results, a global benchmark in education of 15-year-olds launched in October 2020, demonstrate that young people see the interconnectedness of the world; believe their behavior can have an impact; and 76% of them think of themselves as citizens of the world. However, according to PISA, young people could also be seen as pessimistic about their ability to make a difference and may be reluctant to take action or responsibility for tackling challenges that are present in their communities. […]

The new AFS Global You Changemaker program provides a critical bridge in that gap between young people’s desires and skills. This 12-week online education program provides teens ages 15-17 from any country with an opportunity to develop their identities as active global citizens, connect with peers around the world, and learn strategies from experts to begin social impact projects in their communities. Upon successfully completing the program, which includes creating and testing a prototype social impact project, participants receive the Advanced Certificate on Global Citizenship for Social Impact issued by AFS and Penn’s Center for Social Impact Strategy.” 

AFS is currently enrolling its first formal cohort for the program. While the program is delivered online, students experience a dynamic learning environment: a combination of virtual  learning modules (including video content, discussion forums, and quizzes) and live discussion sessions facilitated by AFS volunteers. The core curriculum includes a blend of AFS modules focused on cultural awareness and personal reflection, and CSIS modules introducing foundational concepts, tools, and approaches in social innovation. Students also have the option of enrolling in an additional, optional curriculum from CSIS, which deepens their investigation of social impact and design thinking and encourages them to take their innovative ideas out into the world.

In the full, two-part CSIS curriculum, students:

  • Discover the foundations of social innovation, including key terms, concepts and approaches;
  • Apply practical creative tools and processes for social innovation;
  • Explore their own communities as entry points for social impact;
  • Develop a point of view and purpose statement for their final social innovation project;
  • Research an issue in their community and generate a practical plan to address this locally;
  • Prototype and test their idea, engaging key stakeholders for feedback;
  • Develop a personal narrative around their final project; and
  • Present a final capstone project to peers and community members.

According to Daniel Obst, President and CEO of AFS, “Young people are very aware of and eager to tackle the challenges in their communities. We strongly believe this AFS program will give them the practical tools and the knowledge they need to make the world a better place. We are proud to join forces with Penn’s Center for Social Impact Strategy to launch this program, because of their expertise and long-standing track record in social innovation.”

CSIS is thrilled at what students in the pilot course have accomplished already, and energized at continuing to deliver this program in the coming months and years.