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Even with a crystal ball, it would be hard to predict the future. The only thing we know for sure is that with the intersection of technological, social, political, and climate changes, life ahead is going to be vastly different to the one we know today.
When it comes to students, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) states, “Schools can prepare them for jobs that have not yet been created, for technologies that have not yet been invented, to solve problems that have not yet been anticipated. It will be a shared responsibility to seize opportunities and find solutions.”
Innovating for an uncertain future is a strategic focus at UWCSEA. One of many ways the College is embracing this is through the development of a new pilot course option for the International Baccalaureate (IBDP) titled, Systems Transformation: Leadership for Change. To understand more about this innovation, we spoke to Eivind Lodemel, UWCSEA teacher, IB course designer, and UWCSEA alumni.
What are you working on with the IBDP?
The new IBDP pilot course, Systems Transformation: Leadership for Change launches at UWCSEA in August 2024 to support students in gaining essential skills for their future, and pursuing an IB Diploma with greater agency and adaptability. I’m working as one of two course designers, along with a wider steering committee.
How did you become part of the project team?
It’s an accumulation of many years with the UWC movement. I came to UWCSEA as a National Committee scholar from Norway in 1999 and graduated in 2001. In 2012, I returned as a teacher because of the sense of purpose that underpins all our work here. It is also this purpose that has led us to partner with the IB to create a new, exciting, and innovative course option.
‘Systems Transformation’ sounds great, but what does it mean?
We considered the skill set students might need to learn that would be relevant 30 years from now and transferable to a range of professions. Following extensive research, discussion with universities, and consultation with industry experts, we arrived at five main areas of focus:
- Project Management
- Systems Thinking
- Design Thinking
- Leading for Positive Change
- Changemaker Mindset
Positive change and idealism must be paired with pragmatic thinking and practical solutions. Our new course is framed by big and ambitious ideas about creating positive change in the world, but focuses attention towards the competencies and tools needed. Students graduate with skills that can be applied to any field, industry, or workplace. In turn, these can then be used to drive positive change, where and when required.
“We considered what a student might need as a relevant skill set 30 years from now”
What does this mean for the student experience?
The Project-Based Learning model for this course will allow students to learn through projects that are immersive, hands-on, and led by curiosity. Students interested in, for example, coding, sports, arts, history, biology or design, will be able to pursue projects aligned with their direction. The course will form part of a more bespoke, relevant, and flexible IB package that supports each student’s ambitions.
Why was UWCSEA chosen to pilot this?
UWCSEA is a unique environment in the world of education. The IB recognises this, selecting UWCSEA and UWC Atlantic as partners in designing the pilot course as part of its wide-ranging, multi-year review of the diploma programme. With the potential to roll-out globally from 2030, this course will help shift the IB Diploma worldwide towards a more flexible model with more real-world learning and student agency.
How does it benefit students?
I’m familiar with the concerns students and families will have: How do I ensure I’m successful? How do I develop skills relevant to my future? How do I become recognised and valued? In his article ‘When Purpose Meets Performance’, UWCSEA Head of College, Nick Alchin, addresses some of these concerns and talks about the ‘synergy’ between a mission-aligned education and academic education. We believe that students who have taken part in independent, project-based learning with a greater purpose will be highly regarded as they move on in their life journey.