Professors, administrators, practitioners, and students from across country convened in Denver this past weekend (June 6-8, 2013) for the 2013 American Democracy Project and The Democracy Commitment National Meeting. The conference theme—21st Century Citizens: Building Bridges, Solving Problems—turned attendees’ attention to the educational experience as a method for not just preparing students for the workforce, but more importantly equipping students with the 21st century skills necessary for becoming active contributors in their communities.
Denise Fairchild, President and CEO of Emerald Cities Collaborative, gave the conference’s opening plenary. A description of the speech as it appears in the program is copied below. You can listen to a podcast of the speech here.
Empowering Millenials to Create Change
This is the both the best of times and the worst of times. The worst is the unprecedented level of global change and the uncertainty and insecurity that come with change. Our environment, our economy, our civil society are in a tailspin. The tools for mediating these new and often turbulent terrains are evolving slower than the change itself. The good news is that a new generation of idealists – the Millennials – are coming of age to navigate these murky waters. But this is only if we effectively prepare them for this brave new world. We cannot use old methods for addressing this new world; we need to redesign our educational system for major social and economic transformation. Millennials need skills to tackle tomorrow’s key challenges, including sustainability, civility and global citizenship, and above all, ambiguity. These challenges are best addressed through experiential learning focused less on servicelearning (learning how to do what is already being done) and more on innovating social change experiences for Millennials, so that they may deliver in these new times.