The Millennium Project: Students Can Have An Impact Before Graduation


As we continue to push the idea of helping students to think cognitively to think, create, and produce, we must recognize that there isn’t a Fast Track version of that. We must allow them to hone those skills, but do so in ways that it is visible and in front of us.

One way is with the concept of local and global challenges. The Millennium Project, for example, identified 15 of these global challenges facing humanity:

The 15 Global Challenges:

  1. How can sustainable development be achieved for all while addressing global climate change?
  2. How can everyone have sufficient clean water without conflict?
  3. How can population growth and resources be brought into balance?
  4. How can genuine democracy emerge from authoritarian regimes?
  5. How can decision making be enhanced by integrating improved global foresight during unprecedented accelerating change?
  6. How can the global convergence of information and communications technologies work for everyone?
  7. How can ethical market economies be encouraged to help reduce the gap between rich and poor?
  8. How can the threat of new and reemerging diseases and immune micro-organisms be reduced?
  9. How can education make humanity more intelligent, knowledgeable, and wise enough to address its global challenges?
  10. How can shared values and new security strategies reduce ethnic conflicts, terrorism, and the use of weapons of mass destruction?
  11. How can the changing status of women help improve the human condition?
  12. How can transnational organized crime networks be stopped from becoming more powerful and sophisticated global enterprises?
  13. How can growing energy demands be met safely and efficiently?
  14. How can scientific and technological breakthroughs be accelerated to improve the human condition?
  15. How can ethical considerations become more routinely incorporated into global decisions?

In addition to projects like this, we can also start to think about the meaningful and real concerns that are happening in a local neighborhood or within the school, trying to get students to begin to believe that they are capable and helpful and valuable consumers, producers, creators, makers, so that they can actually inform and shape the world as they’re growing into it, as opposed to being told that they have to wait until graduation before they can have impact.

So that’s the heart and the imagination as to not just looking at these local and global challenges, but also starting to see:

In what ways can that be part of their school learning experience, as opposed to being a sideline or a co-curricular or an after-school experience?

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