August 12th was International Youth Day, a day focused on the engagement and participation of youth in sustainable development. This year’s theme was Youth Civic Engagement, to promote young people’s effective and inclusive civic engagement at all levels.
Business schools around the world are putting in a range of programmes and initiatives to educate and prepare their students to be part of a more sustainable future. However, they are also increasingly actively engaging with local high schools students, providing them with a range of opportunities to do the same. In celebration of International Youth Day here we look at some examples from around the world.
The University of Guelph College of Business and Economics (Canada) works in partnership with a local enterprise organisation, and a group of 46 students working in teams, to co-create a design solution to support youth (ages 18-25) engagement within the community. Topic areas include mental health, skill development, entrepreneurship, education, employment, voting and volunteerism. The teams have 90 minutes to craft a solution, prepare an elevator pitch, and present their pitch to the group. In 2014 the winning team was “Smash the Stigma,” a blog used to inspire conversation, raise awareness, and ultimately change the identity of mental illness by encouraging youth to go online and share their story.
Faculty, students and staff at the University of Porto (Portugal) are involved in the “Universidade Junior Project” (Junior University Project), organising a series of activities related to economics, management, and sustainability for more than 400 youth. The school also promotes a yearly contest focused on management for high school students.
Fairleigh Dickinson University (USA) engages several local high schools and their teachers in two yearly conferences focused on renewable energy and social entrepreneurship. In April 2015, STEM high school students were immersed in a real-world planning experience in which mixed-school teams designed a solar PV system for their schools. During the sustainability conference, students were given the challenge of creating a business idea that is judged by a panel. Students with the most innovative ideas were awarded scholarships, certificates and cash prizes. The school has also partnered with the University’s School of Education to provide training and support to primary, middle, and secondary school teachers and administrators on how to develop and implement problem-based interdisciplinary units focused on local and global sustainability issues that benefit their communities.
Staff and students at Nottingham Business School (UK) have joined forces with three Nottingham-based companies—Capital One, Eversheds and Ikano—to deliver a financial literacy programme called “Cheese Matters!” to children at the city’s secondary schools. The collaboration with Nottingham Business School in 2013 has contributed an expanded pool of volunteers to deliver the programme, and offered students opportunities to network with local businesses that foster cultures of socially responsible business.
IEDC (Slovenia) co-founded Challenge:Future, a global student competition that has engaged nearly 15,000 students, 18 to 30 years old, from ninety countries, to address global sustainability challenges through open collaboration. With six sustainability challenges explored—communication, transportation, media, health, youth in society, and prosperity—Challenge:Future has ignited unprecedented interest across universities and continents, and created a vibrant online youth community dedicated to advancement of the vision of sustainable development.
MoneyThink is a national non-profit organisation that equips urban high school students with personal finance skills. This is accomplished through the help of college students who mentor at local high schools. A chapter was founded at the University of Notre Dame (USA) in 2014, and so far it has grown to include over forty mentors, impacting over 100 high school students in the South Bend Community.
University of Waikato (New Zealand) organised the Annual Sustainable Enterprise & Ethics (SEE) Awards, which aim to give high school students the opportunity to learn about responsible management and business ethics through analysing the impact of New Zealand businesses on the wider community. Teams of 3-5 students are required to prepare a case study on a business around their community. Students have access to an online web portal where they can acquire a broader understanding of these fundamental concepts through online seminars and materials. The winning school receives a cash prize of $500.
Wayne State University (USA) is an active partners in the Teen Entrepreneurship Program. Selected high school students from around the area are given an intensive one-week on-campus training experience in entrepreneurship. The programme, also known as “Green Teens” centres around having the students (working in small groups) develop various “green” business-based projects.
University of New South Wales’ (Australia) Indigenous Winter School Program is for Indigenous high school students from across Australia, in grades 10-12, who choose a faculty to spend three days with as part of a week-long residential programme. Out of a maximum group of fifteen students per faculty, the Australian School of Business (ASB) hosted 14 students.
Last but not least, Koc University (Turkey) provides a range of scholarships yearly which target successful students from underdeveloped cities in Turkey. So far 118 students have been supported.