What will it take to empower more active global citizens determined to make their impact on the world? This year, the AFS Global Conference will tackle the tough challenges, opportunities and resources required to bring global competence education into the classrooms, youth leadership and study abroad programs. AFS Intercultural Programs is convening this annual event to stimulate collaboration and cooperation among leaders in education, NGOs, business and government committed to make this learning available to young people and empowering them to become active changemakers in their community and the world.

The 2019 conference focuses on Active Global Citizenship—and How to Educate for It,  and will take place in Montreal, Canada, 9-11 October 2019. This gathering builds on the networking and idea-sharing activities of the 2018 event, which convened more than 450 leaders at the intersection of education, business and policy. Conference participants include experts and advocates in intercultural learning, global competence and peace education that prepare young people for a world where globalism is under attack and nationalism and extreme violence are on the rise.

Daniel Obst, AFS President and CEO emphasizes the urgency of developing more active global citizens. “We are deeply concerned that the world has become increasingly divided. We believe that the only real way to tackle such problems is by empowering more responsible global citizens who actively contribute to peace and understanding in a diverse world. And how can that be achieved? This question is precisely why we’ve launched this conference – because it is only by building coalitions among advocates with the knowledge, networks and funding that we can make sure all young people learn the global “power” skills they need to excel in diverse communities,” says Obst.

“The experience and expertise that AFS brings to the world to build bridging social capital is very much needed in the time we live in today, ” says Andreas Schleicher, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). “Working with people who think and feel differently from us, who come from different cultures is about hard work, experiences and exchange. No organization in the world brings more experiences and expertise to the table with a community of 1 million people in the field who can activate that.”

AFS Chief Global Engagement Officer Melissa Liles points to AFS roots in humanitarian aid during the both World Wars when asked why active global citizenship is core to AFS. “Our founders were brave young volunteer ambulance drivers who crossed national, political and cultural boundaries to save lives. One hundred years later we still need leaders, workers and volunteers who can collaborate effectively and respectfully with communities and local institutions to address pressing challenges outlined in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). World challenges in poverty, health, education and human rights require that we leverage our many differences to develop fair and just solutions. In essence, the SDGs can’t happen without global competence.”

“Call for proposals and registration for the conference are now open,” says Hazar Yildirim, AFS Director of Strategic Alliances. “We are looking for a provocative mix of ideas, best practices, and strategies that represent the full scope of global competence work in different countries. Our participants are eager to connect with innovators who are implementing curriculums in schools or launching campaigns to empower active global citizens and to increase awareness about global skills. Let’s join our efforts across sectors – governments, businesses, NGOs, community leaders – to support young people’s skills development and social impact ambitions.”

That’s why AFS conference sessions are specifically designed to help participants take action. Here’s a sampling of what will be discussed and debated:

  • How global competence improves critical thinking and problem-solving skills of leaders, employees and volunteers
  • Why the Fourth Industrial Revolution requires global skills not offered in 20th-century classrooms  
  • Ways global education builds resilience to extreme ideologies and faiths that divide people
  • Cutting-edge study abroad programs that provide real-world learning opportunities for students from all backgrounds   
  • How global competence helps all stakeholders better connect resources and communities to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals
  • The importance of media literacy and how social media energizes and hinders productive conversations on social activism, globalism and culture
  • Why a diverse and inclusive workforce leads to business innovation and ethical decision-making
  • Effective and creative corporate social responsibility efforts to change the world.

“The AFS Global Conference is a unique opportunity for educators to learn with and from one another, to connect with education stakeholders from all over the world, and to build the kinds of solutions that will redefine how we educate students from this point forward,” says Kaya Henderson of Teach For All.

Join us in Montreal to move from commitments to actions and solutions. Visit the Conference website for more information.