AFS is creating pathways towards STEM and sustainability education, leadership, and social impact – for students and educators alike. This scholarship-driven initiative called AFS Global STEM Changemakers includes a series of five unique program opportunities focusing on STEM, sustainability and global citizenship. Through these programs, AFS is harnessing inclusive program infrastructure, innovating hybrid and virtual curricula, diversifying recruitment, and breaking down financial barriers to STEM education wherever possible.

The intended impact is to equip diverse communities with critical technical competencies, like digital skills, design thinking, and greater STEM awareness, paired with global competencies, such as emotional intelligence, critical thinking, intercultural awareness, and teamwork, to become changemakers in their communities and work towards a sustainable future.

1. Convening Future Changemakers to Create Social Impact

Addressing the world’s greatest challenges – from climate change, to economic insecurity, to global hunger – will require young people from diverse backgrounds to collaborate and problem-solve together, with the skills needed to foster global understanding and cooperation.

The AFS Global STEM Academies is a full-scholarship program for teens that enriches their sustainability knowledge and STEM skills through an interactive, hands-on curriculum, while developing critical global competencies, including problem-solving, analytical skills, intercultural understanding, and social innovation. The program focuses on the energy transition, sustainability, global skills, and social impact.

Over 6,000 applicants applied to the 2023 program; 180 diverse scholars from 18 countries are currently participating and will travel to one of the six Academy destinations this July and August – where they will further their social impact projects and explore real-world case studies of sustainability in different global markets. Applications for the 2024 program will open in November 2023. Learn more here.

2. Expanding Access to STEM Education for Refugees and Young Women

Systemic barriers hold young women back from accessing quality education globally – especially women of color and refugees. This gender gap is especially prominent in the STEM fields, where men outnumber women by over 350% globally.

AFS is tackling these injustices with the Global STEM Accelerators: a 100% full-scholarship, virtual exchange program focused on empowering young women (ages 15-17.5), from anywhere in the world, to become changemakers in their communities. Participants develop positive social impact capstones, earn a certificate from the University of Pennsylvania, and gain access to a global network of mentors and peers.

In 2022, the Accelerators program earned Diversity Abroad’s prestigious Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion in International Education (EDIIE) Award. Applications for the next cohort will open on May 15. Learn more here.

3. Equipping STEM Educators with Tools for Sustainability Education

Educators are central to fostering global citizenship and sustainability education, and studies show that practicing sustainability in the classroom increases students’ interest in the environment, positively impacts student well-being, and improves critical thinking skills.

The Global STEM Educators is a 100% full-scholarship, virtual exchange program designed for educators to build the skills needed to become globally competent leaders and foster global competence and sustainability in their school communities and beyond.

The first global cohorts, launching this May and June, will convene 250 STEM educators (ages 18+), teaching STEM subjects at the secondary level, in an interactive, online curriculum. Participants will examine intercultural issues in education, explore resources for teaching about sustainable development and global citizenship to students, and develop ideas to build bridges in multicultural classroom environments. Learn more here.

4. Introducing Young Leaders to Pathways in STEM

Young people are hungry for opportunities to change the world, but where can they start? The latest PISA Global Competence Assessment results, a global benchmark in secondary education, demonstrate that the majority of young people believe their behavior impacts the world, yet, may be reluctant or hesitant to tackle challenges in their communities.

With this in mind, AFS developed the Global STEM Innovators: a full-scholarship domestic exchange program to provide teens (age 14-16) with opportunities to collaborate with diverse peers and develop skills necessary to advance a sustainable future. Through a hybrid, hands-on virtual curriculum and in-person workshop, participants will broaden their understanding of the importance of STEM and sustainability, while enhancing their intercultural awareness.

The 2023 workshops will take place in Australia, Indonesia, and the United Kingdom; Applications for the UK program are open through May 15 with the Australia and Indonesia program to follow suit. Learn more and apply.

5. Convening Climate Entrepreneurs to Innovate Sustainable Solutions

Few issues are as complex and multifaceted as climate change, and meeting the pressing challenges that climate change presents is an urgent, global priority. AFS is partnering with New York University (NYU) School of Professional Studies Center for Global Affairs to offer a specialized program track focused on Climate Entrepreneurship at the 28th AFS Youth Assembly.

Participants in the Climate Entrepreneurship Track, will learn from renowned faculty from NYU, gain a foundational understanding of the complexity of the clean energy and clean technology sectors, meet with pioneering climate-tech startup founders, learn about Lean Startup Methodologies, and more.

The 28th Session of the AFS Youth Assembly will convene in New York City in August 2023, under the theme “Breakthrough to a Better Future.” Learn more and apply here.