Making Way for a World Savvy Generation in the US

Never before has there been such a need for global competence – an understanding of other cultures and the systems of the world – economic, social and environmental.

World Savvy – Navigating a Global Society

One of the country’s most innovative educational programs, World Savvy, is teaching students how to navigate the world in a respectful peaceful and thoughtful way – and the Government, seeing the necessity of such education for the future of the country, has come on board.

Arming our Children with Global Competence

Armed with the main subjects, the typical American 17-year-old leaves school, possibly learns more academic subjects at college, then goes out into the world to practice them. Generally speaking, children are left with a huge gap in their knowledge between what we can teach them at home – how to be kind, generous, respectful and what is taught in school – how to learn subjects and reel them off for exams. The gaping hole that is global competence can mean that most people live and die without ever understanding how the world works, or for those minority knowledge seekers, spend a lifetime chasing this knowledge. The lack of understanding of each other’s cultures can be seen as one of the core issues of the political, religious and cultural difficulties we see in the world today.

So what does World Savvy provide that students don’t receive elsewhere? “A lot of it is around the sense of agency,” says Co-founder Dana Mortenson. “It’s about getting people who are interested in issues, but maybe see themselves as pretty removed from being able to do anything about them. Or maybe they don’t see the potential for their role in actually impacting in any change. So this framework goes beyond just knowledge about an issue – this is about understanding more deeply to position young people to build agency, so that they feel positioned to, not only do something positive and constructive about it, but to actually lead efforts.”


World Savvy Students – The Type of People you Want as Your Neighbour

Through the World Savvy program, students are given exposure to the experience of building knowledge actions, with many of those who have come through the World Savvy program now working in areas such as social justice advocates, in documentary film, International development and education policy. “The common thread to me is that they believe that their individual actions are connected to collective outcomes and they have built up a sense of agency around their ability to impact those collective outcomes in a positive way. And they use it – all the time. So they’re on their college campuses organising, they’re super involved, they’re very vocal, they’re lifelong learners, they’re always engaged. I describe them as the kind of people you want to be your neighbour, you want them to be your work colleague and you want them to be your policy maker. You want them to be at a table where people are deciding on the best interests of people other than themselves,” says Dana.

Following the adoption of the US Education Department’s first international strategy in 2012 that, for the first time in the history of US education, was looking at global competence as opposed to simply academic achievement, World Savvy has been growing from strength to strength.

A momentum has been generated that’s going to be really hard to stop now.

“For the last two years we’ve been working formally and informally with them around global competence, and where it goes next, which is really exciting. We’re looking at the possible directions it can go and the energy around that is enormous. A momentum has been generated that’s going to be really hard to stop now, which is great. I think we’ve been a big part of that, so where ten years ago, people were like, ‘What is this? This is fringe;it doesn’t seem necessary’, inside education circles, it has gained a tonne of traction,” adds Dana.

World Savvy – A Big Step Forward

In 2018, the Government will be adding Global Competence to the PISA test, which evaluates education systems worldwide by testing 15-year-olds in key subjects as a domain to evaluate. In addition, Unesco released a Global Citizenship education framework which encourages responsible and active global citizens. “So you’re seeing people reference this now at very high levels, because the way we were thinking about educating for the modern world was just not adequate.”

It might have taken larger institutions some time to come to grips with what was needed for a more globally competent population, but it looks like World Savvy is finally making its mark in the education world, bringing a greater knowledge of the complexities and interdependence of world events and issues, of sustainability and other global issues to the US population.

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