Global Challenge, Global Teaching – a conversation with high school teachers

January 20, 2022

High school teachers from seven countries gathered on January 19 to learn more about the Global Challenge. The Global Challenge is written by hundreds of students every year to learn about food insecurity issues of a specific country. This assignment also allows students to participate in their local Youth Institute, where the best essays are selected. In October, these students will be allowed to participate in the Global Youth Institute in the United States, where they will learn a lot about food systems with other international students.

Teachers' experiences

Luke Becker from Minnesota (USA) and Håkan Jansson from Sweden are both high school teachers that already use the Global Challenge in their classrooms. How they deliver this challenge is up to them, and they each gives a unique spin to it.

Luke Becker: “Many students in my classroom have not even left the state by the time they graduate high school, so it is hard for them to gain a global perspective. Implementing programs like Journey 2050, which includes an agriculture simulation game, and coupling that to the Global Challenge is essential for all students to gain global perspective in food security.” Especially during a time of online education this provides a meaningful lesson for high school students to gain knowledge in food security.

Håkan Jansson applies a similar principle of using games as a means of teaching students about agriculture. The Swedish teacher uses the popular game Minecraft and connects it to agriculture related problems in the real world. Students first get to know a community in Guatemala that struggles with food security. Then, they can use the Minecraft maps based on the location of that community and collaborate on building, for example, farming systems as a possible solution to its problems. Their virtual experiences are then coupled back to communities in Guatemala, which the students then can write about for their Global Challenge.

Teachers inspired

The meeting, organized by the SLU Youth Institute in Sweden, was intended to inspire teachers to implement the Global Challenge in their classrooms. Teachers who were already familiar with the Challenge were also able to share their experiences and talk about possible struggles. High school teacher Greetje Kranenburg shared after the discussion rounds: “Language is also an important part of global food security, so language teachers could just as well apply the Global Challenge to their classroom.” The event created many opportunities for teachers to implement their Global Challenge in new ways and will stimulate more students to participate in future Youth Institutes!