Today’s world can be easily characterized as rapidly changing and creating significant social, health, and environmental problems. David Skillen, Founder of Global Culture Educational Initiative (GCEI), recognized if society is to rise to the challenges, we need—in both young people and adults—to cultivate the qualities of optimism, critical thinking and competence, and a capacity for ‘making a difference.’ While not the complete answer, Skillen states, “As the world we live in becomes more integrated and complex, it is important that educational entities and individuals recognize the importance of introducing international mindedness and environmental stewardship at the elementary level.”
Skillen created the GCEI to partner with K-12 schools interested in fostering and creating programs that facilitate regular cross-cultural learning and environmental stewardship. While looking into schools that modeled a dedication to global initiatives, Skillen learned about Wasatch Academy and Head of School Joseph Loftin. Skillen saw how Wasatch Academy embodied the GCEI mission through the broad range of diversity on campus, partner schools around the world, a curriculum design that incorporated sustainability efforts, and an experiential educational approach that encourages young minds to think greater than themselves.
Currently, Wasatch Academy partners with over 12 different schools including Kasiga in India and Goenka World School of Delhi, India. The Kasiga Exchange Project is a collaborative endeavor between students and faculty of Wasatch Academy and the Kasiga School located in Dehradun, India. Students from both schools focus on water conservation and sustainability and share together their research, findings, and changes they have made. Selected students and faculty from each school are invited to India or the United States to collaborate and be immersed in cultural activities. Loftin states, “ [Programs like this] create a greater global mindset, not just a sensitivity to environmental awareness, but a greater sensitivity to global awareness.”
Educational programs like Wasatch Academy empower young people to learn and influence the changes that ultimately transform the status quo. “Connecting kids to the needs of the world in which they live is not just empty theoretical [talk], it is applying kids to develop their higher-order thinking skills through problem-solving, collaborative work, and innovation,” states Loftin.
Through partnerships like the one modeled by Wasatch Academy, GCEI hopes to influence more schools to discover what other cultures and practices bring to the table and generate a commitment to international mindedness and environmental stewardship. Skillen states, “GCEI provides expertise to review programs and make recommendations on potential changes and adjustments that would aid in advancing learning, always keeping in mind the importance of committed leadership, planning, and funding.”
For organizations interested in the GCEI mission, or to learn more about how you can better collaborate through responsible environmental stewardship, visit gcei.weebly.com.