SEPTEMBER 19, 2019



By Janene Hasan
STEM and Career Technical Education Specialist; Global Scholars Teacher
Southwark School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Ms. Hasan shared the story of her students’ Community Action Project at an international gathering of Global Scholars educators in New York.

Ms. Hasan shared the story of her students’ Community Action Project at an international gathering of Global Scholars educators in New York.

This program provides my students and me with the ability to influence the world through action in our community. 
— Janene Hasan

In Philadelphia, teachers and students are accustomed to having just the bare bones, sometimes not even that, often lacking essentials such as pencils and paper. Our buildings are in such disrepair that the state of our toxic schools was recently featured on CNN. It is was in this climate that I embarked on starting a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program from scratch at Southwark Elementary School. As I was grasping for resources, my principal forwarded me an email from a program called Global Scholars. When I read the curriculum overview, I wasn’t expecting much; it honestly sounded too good to be true, especially considering it came with no cost, but since school was about to start and I did not even have desks or chairs in my room yet, I went for it.

Fast forward four years. We wrapped up another successful year with Global Scholars in June and I just can’t wait to dive into a new one. This program provides my students and me with the ability to influence the world through action in our community.  We have power and access beyond the lead paint on the crumbling walls, lack of materials, violence-stricken streets and poverty. I now connect regularly with educators across the globe, deepen my understanding of STEM concepts and have a platform to learn more about my city and its connection to the rest of the world. My students have access to high-quality curricula, authentic English writing practice with their peers in other countries, and the understanding of global issues in the context of STEM in their local area. It also gives them the power to understand how these issues affect peers around the world and the ability to change their local communities for the better.

Last year, through Global Scholars, we learned about global food systems and took a survey of our neighborhood food access. We found that we lived in a neighborhood full of small corner stores selling processed, unhealthy, packaged foods. Fresh, prepared foods were nowhere to be found. The students realized that this problem extended to their school lunches as well. The meals they were served every day in the cafeteria were processed, packaged, full of plastic, and in their words:  unappetizing. They decided they wanted better, fresher lunches.

This tweet earned a reply from the mayor and eventually led to a meeting with school representatives and the food service vendor.

This tweet earned a reply from the mayor and eventually led to a meeting with school representatives and the food service vendor.

Students created teams within our classroom: publishing, community outreach, research, data, documentary and public relations.

They collected data on student opinions about the food, took daily photos of the lunches, wrote a petition demanding restoration of the school’s full service kitchen, participated in preparing fresh recipes, visited an urban farm, and recruited parents to be involved. They presented their ideas to our principal, who encouraged them and provided input.

“Change is slow; my students truly understand that now. But they also now know they have the power to be heard and to be drivers of change.”

We also decided to tweet Mayor Jim Kenney from our classroom twitter account to see what he thought about school lunches. The students were floored when the mayor replied. Their concerns got back to our principal; the food service vendor offered to meet with our students. As a class, we decided we would meet with them. However, we wanted to include other experts in the conversation. We therefore planned a “Southwark School Lunch Forum.” We invited folks from around Philadelphia to attend our forum including people from the Mayor’s Office, our school lunch vendor, food operations from the school district and the Philadelphia Department of Health. At the forum, students presented their survey, the data they collected, and their research on the lunches offered by more affluent school districts and neighboring schools with full service kitchens. They concluded by providing their recommendations for improving our school lunches. Then, our guests expressed their thoughts on what the students had presented. 

Janene Hasan’s students reached out to the community to gain support for their request for better lunches at their school.

Janene Hasan’s students reached out to the community to gain support for their request for better lunches at their school.

Change is slow; my students truly understand that now. But they also now know they have the power to be heard and to be drivers of change. One result of this forum was that our school lunch vendor invited our school to participate in a program called “VIP Tasters.” Students had a chance to try out new food from the vendor, give feedback about what they liked and didn’t like, and suggest what the vendor should put on our school’s menu. And though students did not see an immediate change while they attended Southwark, they now better understand the workings of government and the process of decision making.  We discussed how their actions build momentum toward improving healthy food options at Southwark, and how their younger siblings, cousins, and even their own children will benefit.

Four years ago we started with basically nothing. We have fundraised for computers and STEM tools for our classroom, but the Global Scholars curriculum and connections with global peers remain by far one of the most valuable things in my classroom. My students have the vision to see how global issues relate to local systems, and, most importantly, the power and hope that their actions will make a change.

Self-Efficacy is one of 9 learning outcomes described in Evaluating Global Digital Education: Student Outcomes Framework, co-published by Global Cities, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and OECD.

Read more about global digital exchange and student learning outcomes.

Global Scholars is operated by Global Cities, Inc., a Program of Bloomberg Philanthropies. Follow us on Twitter at @GlobalCitiesOrg


JUNE 13, 2019

Giving Students Autonomy

A Conversation with Global Scholars Teacher Agnieszka Straszewska, Warsaw

Global Scholars students in Warsaw inspired neighbors to join their lake cleanup

Global Scholars students in Warsaw inspired neighbors to join their lake cleanup

“After completing this year’s curriculum, my Global Scholars students asked me if it would be possible to join the Youth Strike for Climate on May 24, 2019. They made banners and marched in the demonstration through the streets of Warsaw. They encouraged community members to join their spring lake cleanup in the neighborhood and hung posters about wasting water around our school’s premises, as well as outside them.”

According to Global Scholars teacher Agnieszka Straszewska, this is not typical behavior for Warsaw public school students. She has encouraged student autonomy and a sense of self-efficacy in her Global Scholars classroom, and the response has been positive. The school even approved the students’ participation in the Climate Strike—which was framed as a field trip, with a parent attending as guardian and the principal’s agreement that it had educational value.

Ms. Straszewska explains:

open quotes big.PNG

Student autonomy has been one of the reasons why I joined Global Scholars in the first place. This is what many lessons, especially in public schools, are missing. My Global Scholars students organize their own work, become group leaders, lead discussions, encourage their peers to complete assignments, try to meet deadlines, edit the clips, and plan their own multimedia projects. As a teacher, I am there to be consulted. Sometimes I even give them full leadership and become a regular member of the project group, taking clues and ‘commands’ from group leaders.

The students thrive in this new role as leaders.

The pedagogical approach moves the teacher away from being the center of the class. Student talking time becomes longer and more valuable, as the teacher is no longer an omniscient conductor, but rather a mentor, setting the scene and passing the baton to the students and giving them a field for experiments.

These differences enrich student’s learning process and allow children to take more control of their educational paths. They decide about their group duties and pursue their passions. As a result, they are more independent.

The Community Action Project lets students take their leadership role beyond the classroom, to the community.

Our city river, the Vistula, is rather well taken care of, but not many people pay attention to Czerniakowskie Lake, located just outside our school. During the summer, it becomes a central spot for the local community. The students reached out to local organizations, spoke with representatives and consulted local businesses, for instance to ask if they could hang posters. They also made a presentation about the program and gave a speech about it during a conference for Warsaw schools and teachers. Surprisingly, during the presentation they invited all the members of the audience to join their Community Action Project and help them clean the lake.

On clean-up day, we started at 2:30 PM. Around 40 people from both the community and our school showed up! Armed with biodegradable garbage bags and gloves, provided by Global Scholars students, we walked around the lake picking up trash. Then we continued a bit further, towards the main square of the district. The owners of a local restaurant took all the garbage we collected and agreed to segregate the trash, so that it could be recycled. Our Global Scholars had approached the restauranteurs about the project two weeks earlier. The idea was theirs, not mine.

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Isn’t this autonomy? Teachers should not be afraid to give it to their students.

Students made posters in English and Polish and contacted local businesses for permission to hang them.

Students made posters in English and Polish and contacted local businesses for permission to hang them.

“Do not waste water!”

“Do not waste water!”

Self Efficacy is one of 9 learning outcomes described in Evaluating Global Digital Education: Student Outcomes Framework, co-published by Global Cities, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and OECD.

Read more about global digital exchange and student learning outcomes.


MAY 16, 2019

LEARNING TO WIN on water security

students face tough choices in global scholars game

The Global Scholars Water Security Game

Congratulations! You were elected the mayor of a city on Aqua Island! Each of the four cities is in a different region of the island and has a special set of resources based on its ecosystem. As mayor, you must make choices about your city’s resources. Remember, what happens in your city might impact another city or even all of Aqua Island!

With that prompt, Global Scholars students are thrown into a world of complexity and choice.

Will they earn clean air and water resources for building a low-emissions factory? Or will they save coins by building the less expensive factory, even if it lessens air and water quality for themselves and their neighbors? How will a policy change in a neighboring city impact them? If there is an unexpected oil spill or drought, what benefit is there to helping neighbors recover? In the Global Scholars Water Security Game, as in life, not all cards are fair. Still, good choices count.

Global Scholars Boston/Medford

Global Scholars Boston/Medford

“Making decisions of what to trade, choosing either to be selfish or selfless, was the most challenging part,” says Jafar Hussain, who teaches Global Scholars at Allenby Junior Public School in Toronto. “The environmental choices were the most expensive, and if you were trying to be ‘environmental’ you would run out of money.”

The game, part of Unit 4 in the Global Scholars World of Water curriculum, is designed to bring critical thinking into focus. Students must analyze situations from multiple perspectives, draw conclusions based on evidence, and solve problems. They see through new eyes that one city’s water issues are interconnected with cities and ecosystems around the world.

Students debated whether it was OK to be selfish and why. For example, ‘If I save my city now, I will be in a better position to help others later.’
— Audrey Green, Global Scholars Teacher, Fort Lauderdale

“We wanted the scenarios in the game to prompt student discussion about fairness and equity, to let students grapple with some of the same questions faced by world leaders,” says Colleen Khachatourians, education manager at Global Cities and one of the Global Scholars curriculum writers.

The game generated high engagement among students and teachers alike, and teachers from multiple cities shared their students’ adventures on Twitter.

“The students were very engaged in the game from the start,” reports Audrey Green, 8th Grade Global Scholars teacher and technology liaison at Silver Trail Middle School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

“Students started to verbalize that they had to make decisions they hadn’t considered,” she adds. “Some debated whether it was OK to be selfish and why. For example, ‘If I save my city now, I will be in a better position to help others later.’ Or, ‘In the end, money may be the most important resource.’”

Global Scholars Toronto

Global Scholars Toronto

“Students really enjoyed  the competition of the game, along with trying to work through real-world problems,” says Frank Zizzo, who teaches Global Scholars as part of the 7th grade Social Studies curriculum in Boston/Medford. “It allowed my students to utilize what they were learning throughout the year to make important decisions.”

In many classes, impact lasted beyond game time.

“There was one moment, about a month later, when students were writing posts [in the Global Scholars online discussion board],” says Ms. Green. “They had to consider whether solutions they had derived for a local water issue would impact other cities, and they definitely referenced the game as a resource for making that decision.”

Global Scholars Fort Lauderdale

Global Scholars Fort Lauderdale

Mr. Zizzo said his students made the connections to very specific local water issues. “We have a river behind our school, so they especially thought about how water pollution harms various places. I heard many of them discussing how they never thought about how pollution from our city can affect people in other places.”

Toronto classes saw local connections as well. “Students became more aware of the contamination issues regarding factories and manufacturing, and cutting natural gas and fossil fuels, which are a cheaper and more selfish choice,” says Mr. Hussain. “The environmental choices are more expensive, although better, forcing people to stick to their budget.”

Teachers shared tips with one another on the online Teachers’ Lounge as well. “I found a great quotation to start the discussion of the game,” posted Margaret Borger, a Global Scholars teacher in New York City. “‘Play is the highest form of research’—Albert Einstein. This led to a nice conversation—such as when you play you make mistakes and you have to solve them.”

We wanted the scenarios in the game to prompt student discussion about fairness and equity, to let students grapple together with some of the same questions faced by world leaders.
— Colleen Khachatourians, Global Scholars Curriculum Writer

“Games provide a great medium to introduce students to complex global issues,” says Ms. Khachatourians. “The keys to a successful game, however, are really the follow-up questions, where teachers can prompt students’ critical thinking skills.”

The Global Scholars Water Security Game is part of the 2018-19 curriculum, World of Water.

Enrollment is currently open for 2019-20, when Global Scholars will consider Nature and Our Cities. There is no charge to participating schools, but space is limited! Contact us if your school district is interested in applying to Global Scholars.

Critical thinking is one of 9 student learning outcomes that global digital exchanges like Global Scholars can promote. Find out more about student learning outcomes.


MAY 1, 2019

Digital Literacy with Mr. Feimer:

A peek inside the Global Scholars Classroom

We recently visited the classroom of Tim Feimer, Technology Coordinator and Teacher at MS 74 in New York City. He has been teaching Global Scholars since 2016.

Circular pods encourage collaboration, with 5 pods of 6 students each

Circular pods encourage collaboration, with 5 pods of 6 students each

Mr. Feimer’s classroom prioritizes technology and collaboration. Each student faces the center of a circle toward a desktop screen—and 5 other students. At the touch of a button, Mr. Feimer can freeze all computers to call students to attention. When it’s time to collaborate, students have their group ready.

We asked this inspiring teacher to share insights on promoting digital literacy and other global learning outcomes in his classroom, while keeping Global Scholars a favorite class.

As a technology teacher, what benefits do you see in Global Scholars?

I especially appreciate the different opportunities that my students get to experience. From the technology standpoint, we are able to expose them to such different web-based programs as Animaker, Kizoa, Prezi, and Powtoon, to name a few.  This sets Global Scholars students apart from students who use everyday resources like PowerPoint and Word. 

How does the program help you meet your objectives for student learning?

Our schoolwide instructional focus is student engagement.  The projects, group work, and global discussions keep my students fully engaged. The worldviews and collaboration help meet my objectives for my students by having them think about the effects of their actions not only on themselves but on the rest of the world.

I’m one of those people that runs around saying “Save the whales!” and yet I still use 401 gallons of water every day. Wow, I really need to cut down my shower time!
— MS 74 student, "Water Every Day" assignment

Is there a unit or project in this year’s World of Water curriculum that has particularly inspired your students?

I think the biggest impact on my students was Unit 2 – “Water Every Day” and the water use spreadsheet. Realizing how much water they use in the shower as well as in what they eat was eye-opening. Many parents have told me the students are not only cutting back on their own showers but timing other family members as well.

Any breakthrough moments?

Global Scholars discussion boards and web-based assignments offer students multiple ways to express themselves

Global Scholars discussion boards and web-based assignments offer students multiple ways to express themselves

The “aha” moment for my students has to be the cultural and social understanding of other students from around the world—realizing that not everyone in the other cities has access to clean drinking water from their faucet. Not everyone can turn on a faucet and get a drink of water, wash their hands, or take a shower.

How have your students brought their digital literacy skills to other classes?

Exposing my students to different ways to express themselves (Animaker, Powtoon, etc.) gives them the chance to stand out.  Global Scholars also gives them a worldlier perception and the ability to see things from different points of view.

What’s unique about your Global Scholars classroom?

Perspective is the word I would use to describe the uniqueness of Global Scholars. Students get a unique perspective of the world from other students and that really sinks in. Students tell it like it is no matter how tough it may be.

Cool Classroom Practices

Any final tips and tricks?

Group Work. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of the group work. Having students share with each other and then collaborate on what other students from around the world have discussed is priceless.

Skype. It can be tough because of time zones and school schedules, but Skype with the other students is an amazing experience.  The students get to ask questions and answer questions directly from other students.  It shows them that students from around the world are really just like they are. Nobody likes the cafeteria food!

Digital Literacy is one of 9 student learning outcomes that global digital exchanges like Global Scholars can promote. Find out more about student learning outcomes.


APRIL 10, 2019

Learning to See the evidence: A CHAT WITH kEVIN GUTHRIE

How do we learn to evaluate something truly new?

According to Kevin Guthrie, president of ITHAKA, it is an old problem. Each new technology challenges viewers to find the right way to see it, understand it, and judge its reliability. This is just as true for adults scrolling through multimedia news as it is for students in a global e-classroom.

Speaking to a gathering of international educators, all interested in teaching digital literacy and critical thinking to today’s students, Guthrie offered an example from Scotland in 1893.  A photographer trying to promote his studio published a photo of dozens of famous people in Scotland, seen as if at one densely-packed VIP gathering. (Below left.) Guthrie pointed to one head that is massive compared to the others, shadows going in every direction, and other oddities that would raise red flags for today’s photo-savvy viewers.

This 1893 composite photograph by George Washington Wilson fooled viewers in its day. (Source below)

“We would recognize immediately this is not real,” said Guthrie. “But when this picture was released, people did not have that context. Some people had never seen photos before. They were literally amazed that they had gotten all those people together.”

The point: new technology demands a moment’s pause and then a new set of questions.

Guthrie describes himself as an optimist and believes that the solution is critical thinking. Teachers can guide their students to pause and consider a few key questions. 

“I think the main thing is that you have to slow students down,” said Guthrie. “In these viral moments, what happens is that the information you're getting is going right into your eyes, into your heart, into your emotion, never passing through your brain. There's no time for that. It appeals to people viscerally.”

In a contemporary example, a video appears to show President Barack Obama speaking. In fact, the face and the speech are simulated to show the “president” saying whatever an actor pronounces—a deception that is hard to detect at first glance, especially without knowing that technology makes this fakery possible. (See video at page top for this example.)

If we can get students to just ask one of those questions, it will be a start.
— Kevin Guthrie

“We have to get people to slow down and then we have to give them the tools around things like authority, bias, content. So when we see ‘Obama’ speaking and saying something that seems completely inconsistent with who we think he is, we have to ask: where is this coming from? What's the site? Who's putting this up? Why are they putting it up? Why would it be there? What's trying to happen? If we can get our students to just ask one of those questions it will be a start. If we can get them to just slow down long enough to have a chance of asking those questions, I think it will be a start.”

In the Global Scholars World of Water curriculum, critical thinking comes into the spotlight in unit 4, as students read a local news story about climate change, distinguish facts from opinions in the story, and practice using evidence to support their own arguments. This exercise can reveal potential biases, such as a predisposition to agree with arguments that one’s friends endorse. Guthrie warned about the trap of seeking evidence to “prove” a pre-determined conclusion.

From the 2018-19 Global Scholars Student Workbook: World of Water

“One of the things that's so important for all of us as educators to teach is that we want evidence to lead to the conclusion,” said Guthrie. “We want evidence to lead to the argument. And too often the argument is out there searching for the evidence.”

Guthrie spoke on January 31, 2019 in New York City at the Global Cities Symposium: Global Competency in a Changing World: Developing and Assessing Student Learning Outcomes.

Critical Thinking is one of 9 learning outcomes described in Evaluating Global Digital Education: Student Outcomes Framework, co-published by Global Cities, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and OECD.

Read more about student learning outcomes


Photo source: George Washington Wilson (British, Grampian (Baffshire), Scotland 1823-1893 Aberdeen, Scotland). Aberdeen Portraits No. 1. 1857. Artstor,

Kevin Guthrie is president of ITHAKA (, a not-for-profit organization that works with the global higher education community to advance and preserve knowledge and to improve teaching and learning through the use of digital technologies.


MARCH 26, 2019

Making sure technology is more than “bubblegum for the brain”

Students who use technology to collaborate, create something, or apply information to a new problem are harnessing technology to deepen learning, according to John B. King, Jr., president of the Education Trust and former U.S. Secretary of Education. But that approach is not guaranteed, he added.

“Technology can be a very powerful tool for learning, or it can be bubblegum for the brain, right? It matters how adults construct the activities.”

Secretary King recently discussed global digital education with an audience of educators from 32 cities on 5 continents. The group gathered in New York City to consider student learning outcomes, the focus of a new and groundbreaking Global Cities report. As members of the Global Scholars worldwide educator network, each teacher, principal, and school district administrator in the audience was working to create opportunities for students to go deeper with both global and digital learning. 

Secretary King emphasized the “sweat” factor in making sure that students were actively advancing in critical thinking and digital literacy. And he did not only mean the educator’s sweat.

“Do you construct activities where the kids have to do the intellectual heavy lifting? As a principal, I used to say to teachers, ‘Who’s doing the sweating in the classroom?’ The intellectual sweating? If the teacher’s doing all the intellectual sweating, you’re not doing it right!

If the teacher’s doing all the intellectual sweating, you’re not doing it right!
— John B. King, Jr.

“The kids are supposed to be doing the work, and too often with technology what you see in schools, unfortunately, is kids who are doing worksheets on a screen. They’re the same worksheets that used to be photocopied! You see kids just passively consuming information.”

“What Global Cities is doing, which I’m excited about, is actually having kids use the technology as a tool to do something, to engage in conversation, to learn something new, to do something collaboratively together, to think through a problem and solve it, to learn information not for the sake of recall, but for the sake of applying that information to solve a real-world problem. That’s the way I hope technology will be used.”

Digital literacy is one of nine student learning outcomes that global digital education can promote, according to the Global Cities report. For each outcome, the Global Cities grid identifies indicators that can show student growth in the classroom. For digital literacy, for instance, these progress from “knowledge of basic hardware, software, and online tools” through skill and attitudes, culminating in such behavioral indicators as “using digital tools to create original content in academic and social activities.”

Educators from 32 cities gathered in New York City to discuss global digital education

Educators from 32 cities gathered in New York City to discuss global digital education

Secretary King emphasized that this active approach to digital and global learning should not be limited to a particular lesson or even subject, but rather reflect a general orientation toward learning in every subject.

“Too often in schools, we see enrichment as in competition with core academics. I think that is exactly the wrong way to think about it. When core academics come to us through enriching experiences where we are problem solvers, where we’re communicating with peers, that’s when we’re going to learn the most. That ought to be how we think about how we do school, not just how we do Global Scholars.”

Read more about Student Learning Outcomes


FEBRUARY 27, 2019


Mike Bloomberg on the Value of Global Digital Education

“Putting people together from around the world is one of the most important things we can do,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP & Bloomberg Philanthropies and former mayor of New York City, at a recent gathering of international educators in New York City. “We’re trying to get more people exposed to ideas and traditions from elsewhere. We think that the more that we can recognize the hopes and aspirations that bind us together, the more we’ll be able to build and sustain alliances that promote peace and prosperity, and give us a future.”

Mayor Bloomberg addressed educators and policymakers at the Global Cities Symposium, Global Competency in a Changing World: Developing and Assessing Student Learning Outcomes, a conference exploring global digital education as a pathway to global competency for students ages 10-13.  The focus was the public release of Evaluating Global Digital Education: Student Outcomes Framework, a report and framework making it possible to measure student progress toward global learning goals, and making these insights widely available to educators and classrooms worldwide. The report draws on the experiences of Global Scholars, the global digital exchange program operated by Global Cities, Inc., a Program of Bloomberg Philanthropies.

 “Thanks to technology and the pioneering work that leaders like you are doing,” Mayor Bloomberg said, “seventh graders in Fort Lauderdale can now sit in front of the same classroom as those in Barcelona, and just think about how their experiences are magnified.”

The more that we can recognize the hopes and aspirations that bind us together, the more we’ll be able to build and sustain alliances.
— Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg

Mayor Bloomberg emphasized 3 additional points.

  1. Global learning matters.  “We’ve got to give people the understanding that critical thinking and cultural understanding and appreciation for diversity are good for the world and also good for each of us.” 

  2. Clear standards improve programs.  “We’re glad to see that educators and policymakers are already using the report that you’ve produced to establish standards on global civic education. The report makes it clear that educators have a lot more to do. The Global Scholars program is helping students to do more.”

  3. Data must drive improvement. “The most important thing is when you measure something you then use the data... You can test the kids but if you find out that they don’t know something and don’t go into a classroom and change the classroom to try and fill that gap and teach them what they’re not learning, what’s the point of it?”

Educators at the Global Cities Symposium represented Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, North America, and South America.

Educators at the Global Cities Symposium represented Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, North America, and South America.

The 74 educators attending the symposium represented 32 cities, 21 international and 11 US.  In addition to Mayor Bloomberg, speakers included John B. King, Jr., president of the Education Trust and former U.S. Secretary of Education; Ester Fuchs, professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University; Kevin Guthrie, president of ITHAKA; and Marjorie B. Tiven, president and founder of Global Cities.

More than 15,000 students currently participate in the Global Scholars program in nearly 700 classrooms.  In the six years since Global Cities formally launched the digital exchange program in 2014 with 333 students, the program has reached nearly 50,000 students. Their experiences and those of the teachers and administrators helping to lead the program internationally inform Global Cities’ new report, co-published by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).  

The report presents an evaluation framework for global education based on nine student learning outcomes and the innovative approach of global digital exchange. Global Cities conceived this framework so that educators can better teach global competency, and evaluators can better measure what students are learning.

Read the report: Evaluating Global Digital Education: Student Outcomes Framework

See additional video from the Global Cities Symposium, including Kevin Guthrie and John B., King, Jr., in our Video Library


JANUARY 28, 2019

Landmark Publication Provides Framework to Measure Student Outcomes in Global Digital Education

New from Global Cities: a guide to measuring student progress toward global learning goals. (Click image to open full report)

New from Global Cities: a guide to measuring student progress toward global learning goals. (Click image to open full report)

Educating students to become globally competent adults has never been a greater challenge for those charged with preparing the next generation to live and work in a globalized and digitally connected world. The problem is determining the content of a global education, how best to teach it, and whether the programs created to accomplish this goal are working. Understanding this, we developed student learning outcomes that provide a comprehensive and coherent picture of global competency in the classroom, drawing on our international network of nearly 1000 educators.

This need and problem are addressed in our paper Evaluating Global Digital Education: Student Outcomes Framework, co-published by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). We are officially releasing the paper later this week at “Global Competency in a Changing World,” our New York City symposium.

The paper presents an evaluation framework for global education based on these student learning outcomes and the innovative approach of global digital exchange. Global Cities conceived this framework so that educators can better teach global competency, and evaluators can better measure what students are learning.

An effective global digital exchange program should show growth in these nine outcomes, which taken together define global competency for K-12 students.

The strength of the paper is that evidence comes from academic literature and the world of practice, including data from Global Scholars, the digital exchange program that we created and operate. It connects 10-to-13 year old students in e-classrooms with peers in other countries to accomplish a project-based, technology-integrated, and interdisciplinary curriculum about a global problem. Classes engage with one another in discussion boards throughout the nine-month program. Enrollment has consistently increased over five years, now cumulatively totaling nearly 50,000 students.

The evaluation framework identifies four global learning outcomes—appreciation for diversity, cultural understanding, global knowledge, and global engagement— and five general learning outcomes, including digital literacy, language communication, self-efficacy, academic engagement, and critical thinking. An effective global digital exchange program should show growth in these nine outcomes, which taken together define global competency for K-12 students.

Click image to download the 2-page brochure

Click image to download the 2-page brochure

To make the outcomes measurable, we identified 112 empirical indicators across the nine outcomes, grouped within the developmental competency areas of knowledge, skill, attitudes, and behavior. We recognize that not all indicators will be observable in every setting, and so by providing this wide range of indicators, the framework makes it possible for educators and evaluators to identify what global learning looks like in the classroom. The empirical indicators can also be used to formulate measurement tools that consider student progress or improvement over time.

The framework makes it possible for educators and evaluators to identify what global learning looks like in the classroom.

The paper describes each student learning outcome and the related empirical indicators. It then identifies measurement approaches related to these outcomes and indicators that are developmentally appropriate for ages 10 to 13. While this is a critical age for building global competency, students are at the beginning stages of developing these outcomes and may show growth in different ways and at different times. Therefore, the paper concludes that a nuanced and multipronged evaluation approach is essential. The framework provides the foundation for undertaking outcome evaluation for any global education program.

More than 70 representatives of the Global Scholars network are gathering in New York City this week to continue the conversation about the importance and purpose of global digital education and how to evaluate its impact on cities worldwide. Attendees will hear from Michael Bloomberg, three-term mayor of New York City and philanthropist, who will open the meeting as he has every previous Global Cities symposium. Mayor Bloomberg will speak to the need to make sure our children become globally competent 21st-century adults. John B. King, Jr., former U.S. Secretary of Education, will also address attendees, as will Kevin Guthrie, president of ITHAKA. King will speak about the importance of assuring equity for low-income students and students of color; Guthrie will speak to the opportunities—and the hazards—that instantaneous digital communications represent for student learning.

Look for highlights from the symposium on Twitter and Facebook #learningoutcomes and check our website in the coming days for video clips and transcripts.

Read the full report: Evaluating Global Digital Education: Student Outcomes Framework.

Read more about student learning outcomes.


OCTOBER 29, 2018

CityLab Detroit HIGHLIGHTS Innovation in Cities and Global Scholars Classrooms

CityLab brings together mayors and urban leaders annually to address issues that cities often face and to encourage collaboration to solve the challenges they share. Detroit’s urban revival efforts offer insights and inspiration to urban leaders globally. The city is hosting innovators for the next three days at CityLabDetroit – and inspiring innovation throughout the year in cities and Global Scholars classrooms around the world.

Global Scholars connect in digital classrooms where students from many international cities create and share original content and other students respond. Students learn that global issues are complex and affect everyone. They also improve their skills at collaboration and respectful communication through a series of digital projects, culminating in a Community Action Project. CityLab this week will touch on just these issues, bridging the gap between what cities are doing and what students are learning.

Last year, students in 64 cities shared solutions to #FeedingOurCities, modeling collaborative problem-solving and global competency. Students in Detroit decided to turn a neglected courtyard into a community garden for their own school for their Community Action Project, which asked them to apply global lessons locally. They had been studying issues such as food waste and food deserts in cities around the world as part of the Feeding Our Cities curriculum.

Detroit Global Scholars turned a school courtyard into a garden, applying global lessons locally.

Detroit Global Scholars turned a school courtyard into a garden, applying global lessons locally.

Blog: Learn how students went about Growing a Better Breakfast in Detroit.

Video: See how design thinking helps Global Scholars tackle complex projects throughout the year.


OCTOBER 19, 2018

teachers travel to deepen international collaboration

Global Cities Board Member Bob Orr welcomes Taipei teachers to madrid

MADRID, October 17, 2018. Global Scholars teachers and school administrators from Madrid welcomed their counterparts from Taipei on Wednesday for a celebration of international collaboration. Through Global Scholars, our pioneering digital exchange program, we emphasize professional development and a supportive global network for teachers as well as students. The program includes a robust teachers’ community online as part of our mission to provide middle school students with opportunities for international conversations about important global issues in e-classrooms. This live visit allowed that collaboration to deepen.

“We need all people, all citizens of all countries to solve a problem like climate change,” said Global Cities Board Member Bob Orr, welcoming the delegation from Taipei to Madrid. “What better way than to start with 10-year-olds?”

Global Scholars Madrid students show off their digital work to Nova Hung, a Global Scholars Taipei teacher joining a delegation to observe Madrid classes and teaching practices.

Global Scholars Madrid students show off their digital work to Nova Hung, a Global Scholars Taipei teacher joining a delegation to observe Madrid classes and teaching practices.

Bob welcomed participants in English, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese, languages he speaks fluently from time spent in Peru and Taiwan. He serves as dean of the University of Maryland School of Public Policy and special advisor to the United Nations secretary-general on climate change. Bob drew on his experience working in climate change, educational leadership, and public policy to urge our educators to help students prepare for the local and global responsibilities they will assume as adult citizens.

The Taipei delegation included 16 Global Scholars teachers and school administrators, visiting the Madrid Regional Ministry of Education to learn from their expertise in implementing the Global Scholars curriculum in digital classrooms. We were delighted to host more than 100 of our educators at a welcome reception in Madrid.

Our first Facebook Live conversation featured two educators from Madrid and two from Taipei, who shared their experiences of international collaboration as participants in Global Scholars.

View Bob Orr’s complete remarks here (7-minute video.)


OCTOBER 17, 2018


In our first Facebook Live, we sat down with education leaders and classroom teachers from Taipei and Madrid to discussion international collaboration through Global Scholars. A delegation of Global Scholars educators from Taipei were visiting Madrid to deepen the professional connection begun in the e-classroom.

The real world itself is very complicated now. When students are facing the real world with Project Based Learning, they actually learn to become wiser problem-solvers.”
— Gladys Fanyn Yeh, Global Scholars Educator, Taipei

Participants in this Facebook Live included (left to right) Nicky Keefe—Host, Global Cities, Inc.; Lindsy Lee, Global Scholars Taipei hub leader; Angel Huerga Garcia, Global Scholars Madrid hub leader; Gladys Fanyn Yeh, Taipei teacher; José Vicente Sanchez, Madrid teacher.

Follow the ongoing conversation on Facebook!

Global Cities staff met with educators (and residents) at the NY Aquarium


In last week’s post, we previewed the 2018-19 curriculum, World of Water, and promised a few more behind-the-scenes glimpses. OK, Global Scholars education team, what can you give us for our patience?

1   Which unit of World of Water contains the most surprises for students?

Each unit and lesson can be surprising in different ways for different students. The biggest surprises come in the e-classroom discussion boards when students share their local experiences, cultures, and perspectives. They’re the ones creating surprises for each other and for us! Discovering the commonalities we all share around the globe, and the unique reasons behind our differences, is always a surprising adventure in Global Scholars.

2   Can you give some examples of how you’re tailoring professional development to this curriculum?

Water can be an elusive topic for adults as much as young people. We just don’t spend much time thinking about how water gets to our tap, how it is managed in our cities, or how our city water systems interact with natural waterways nearby. We’ll be guiding educators through this discovery process so they can guide their students through it as well.

3.  What is the connection between the curriculum and global competency skills?

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Do you see a duck? A rabbit? Unit 1 focuses on seeing more than one perspective

This year’s curriculum will support the building of skills and understandings that are important foundations of our student learning outcomes, which include both global learning outcomes (Appreciation for Diversity, Cultural Understanding, Global Knowledge, and Global Engagement) and the general learning outcomes that support them (Digital Literacy, Language Communication, Self-Efficacy, Academic Engagement, and Critical Thinking). Unit 1 begins to build toward these outcomes with important lessons on perspective-taking. Our PDs this year will help educators understand what building those capacities looks like in the classroom and what to expect from students as they think and grow through the process.

4.   Finally, what is it like to work in a team to create a new curriculum?  

Working in a team to create the curriculum is a lot like the process we guide students through for their group projects. First we brainstorm and research by interviewing experts, going on field trips, and doing lots of reading (online, newspapers, books). Then we make a plan—the curriculum outline—and create a first draft. We go through many cycles of testing it out and revising. Each year, we have about a dozen Global Scholars educators from diverse countries and perspectives give feedback on a draft of the student workbook before we make final revisions. We want to make sure the curriculum will work as best as it can in all the different contexts in which it is taught. We also have a content expert, such as a university professor who specializes in the subject matter, review and give us feedback. This year, Global Scholars educators also met with the education team (and several schools of inhabitants) at the New York Aquarium.

The Global Scholars e-classroom opened on September 24. Throughout the year, follow us on Twitter and Facebook

World of Water curriculum


SEPTEMBER 20, 2018

Q&A: WHy "World of Water"?


Dive into the new Global Scholars curriculum

Global. Urban. Relevant to students ages 10-13 in cities around the world.  Each year, the Global Scholars Education Team challenges itself to find that just-right topic for a new, original curriculum. It’s got to involve real science, opportunities for project-based learning, and chances to develop global competency skills such as appreciation for diversity and critical thinking. But it’s also got to be cool.

It’s likely that students will be able to see connections between the curriculum and their local news and experiences

The 2018-19 winner is World of Water, which invites students to explore the role of water in our lives, cities, and world.  Just how did it clinch the top spot?  We sat down with the education team for a deeper dive.

1.       Why water?

Water is a topic that can be discussed on so many levels from the personal to the global, cultural to geographical. Water has also been in the news lately, in the United States and globally, increasing people’s awareness about climate change, plastic waste in oceans, and inequities in water access. It’s likely that students will be able to see connections between the curriculum and their local news and experiences

2.       What’s new since Global Scholars first looked at water in 2014-15?

The 2018-19 curriculum covers many of the same topics, but the information is updated to reflect new knowledge in the field. We’ve also learned about the types of activities and discussions that are most engaging for students and that foster the development of our global and general learning outcomes. For example, interviews with community members are a wonderful authentic learning opportunity and generate high levels of student interest and exchange in the discussion boards.

3.       Since the curriculum is project-based, can you preview any of the end-of-unit digital projects?

Each Global Scholars unit ends with a multimedia project.

It’s always a fun puzzle to figure out the end-of-unit projects so that students will be able to apply what they’ve learned throughout the unit and also gradually build the skills they’ll need for the end-of-year community action project. Among the adventures this year:

  • a school-based water audit

  • an exploration of a local waterway

  • a community survey of local water issues.

Prezi, VoiceThread, Piktochart, and Adobe Spark are the digital tools we’re recommending this year.

4.       Will there be a board game?

Yes! We’ve been working on it all summer. It’s been fun to play each version in the office and create a game-based learning experience about water security around the world. It takes a lot of fine-tuning to make a game work both as a game and as a learning tool. Watch for this one in Unit 4.

Stay tuned for three more insights into World of Water in next week’s blost post! 

The Global Scholars e-Classroom opens on September 24, 2018. We can’t wait to see old friends and to meet new ones.

Meantime, have a look at the full World of Water curriculum.  


JULY 11, 2018

Taipei: Fighting food waste one rice ball at a time

TAIPEI.  Global Scholars in Taipei, Taiwan had everything they needed for a successful Community Action Project, although they confessed to some self-doubt. First, they reviewed data from a school survey they had conducted as part of Feeding our Cities

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Taipei students were stunned to see how much food was wasted

  1. They learned that Taipei schools throw out 10 tons of food each day.

  2. When they interviewed a local food worker, they learned that nearby tea shop workers threw out “a huge amount of fruit peel and tea leaves.”

  3. Many students disliked school lunch. (“Sometimes it is greasy. Sometimes it's too bland. Once we had bubble milk tea and we found milk powder at the bottom of the drink. These make us doubt if the food is cooked properly.”)

For the final Community Action Project, Global Scholars knew they needed to search for bite-sized solutions to global problems, something they could do in their own schools and cities to make an immediate difference.

They brainstormed and came up with a multi-part solution to food waste, even to disappointing lunches:

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Project 1: Rice balls

“We plan to shape the leftover rice from our school lunch into round rice balls using beeswax cloth.”

Project 2: disappointing lunch

“After we talked with our principal, we decided to take photos of the leftover school lunch and make posters to ask the school lunch company to provide fresher and healthy school lunch. “

Project 3: recycling fruit peel

"We are collecting the fruit peel from the tea shops and our school lunch to make dishwashing soap!"

Learning to Take Action

Food waste was one challenge; skepticism about taking on such a large challenge was another. “Students think these projects are fun, but they still doubt if they can make a change in school and community,” reported their teacher, Lingyun Chang.

“The hardest part will be to make our action project successful,” confesses a Taipei Global Scholar.

Self-efficacy is one of the general learning outcomes that global digital education can advance. Global Cities defines self-efficacy as the ability and motivation to learn, adapt, take action, and put forth one’s best effort, particularly in challenging situations. Research suggests that students start to develop self-efficacy during the middle school years. (Here is a helpful overview by Frank Pajares.)

That doesn’t mean that students ages 10-13 need to solve the world’s problems before summer arrives. But they do benefit from identifing problems and taking local action. A global e-classroom provides exposure to new problems and allows students to consider the impact their actions might have on their peers, communities, and even world.


Taipei students found ideas and encouragement for their Community Action Project in the Global Scholars e-classroom. They also found inspiration in their community, visiting a local nature park to see how a professional created something delicious and healthy from food on-hand.

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Encouraged, the students began to collect leftover rice from their lunches. They completed their poster advocating for better lunches, securing signatures of support from teachers as well as the principal. They even worked with local tea shops to collect leftover fruit peel.

Each action helped students envision small actions with clear personal pay-offs. The rice balls, for instance, would not only salvage food leftover from lunch, but would fend off a common afternoon problem among middle school students: "it can make me not hungry in the afternoon." 

Early results are promising. The school lunch vendor, for instance, "accepted our opinion and poster and have committed themselves to providing students better school lunch next semester!" 

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Taipei students present a poster with 129 signatures to the school lunch vendor

As for sharing rice balls with other classes, Lingyun reports: “The students eat the rice balls they make! We are sharing the idea with other classes so that they can make their rice balls if they want to 😊” Inspiring others is a form of community action, too.

What would Taipei students tell other students? “They can make stuff and make a difference,” said Aashika. George added: “My advice is to continue trying, no matter if you think it is going to fail, because from my experience, to give up is to throw away your chance.”

See community action projects around the world on Twitter by following the hashtag #GlobalScholarsTakeAction.


JUNE 20, 2018

Growing a Better Breakfast in Detroit

DETROIT, MI. “We discovered that there is not a place near us to get fresh fruits and vegetables,” reported fifth and sixth grade classes in Detroit, Michigan. “We saw that we eat unhealthy snacks, and that children in other countries eat similar things!”

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The students connected this insight to their final project for Global Scholars, a Community Action Project, which asked them to apply global lessons locally. They had been studying issues such as food waste and food deserts in cities around the world as part of the Feeding Our Cities curriculum. So they decided to turn a neglected courtyard into a community garden for their own school.

Their reward: fresh strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, and even maple syrup, with generous servings of self-efficacy, digital literacy, and global engagement on the side.

See what they have to say about the project, below. 

Our Twitter Series is following Global Scholars classes around the world as they launch Community Action Projects. Have a look! #GlobalScholarsTakeAction

Q&A with Global Scholars: detroit

Q. What did you set out to do and what did you do?
A. We wanted a garden that would have food that students would eat. We planted strawberries. We have one raised bed with tomatoes and cucumbers that we started from seeds indoors.
Q. What positive effects have you already seen from your community action project? 
A. We are excited to go outside and work! Even though we have only one garden bed in, the courtyard looks better because it is cleaned up and tilled. Other people in the school want to help (especially with the tiller), but they cannot! It is our project.
Q. What advice would you share with another class starting the same kind of project?
A. Doing a survey to see what people would eat, and then seeing if it would grow here was a big help. Look way in advance for a grant or do fundraisers to get money for your project. Make sure everyone knows the chores and has a tool so that no one is playing or not doing anything.

The students benefitted from local generosity, as Lowe’s donated five raised garden beds and a community member donated six maple tapping kits. (See video for details.)

Now the students look to the courtyard and see a world of possibility.

“Maybe next year we can plant a vegetable from another country. Instead of shipping food, we could get it right here,” said one student. Global knowledge, eco-friendly transportation, and a local food source, all in one good idea.  Well-done, Global Scholars.

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We pulled some giant weeds


Everyone loved the tiller

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Plot twist: maple syrup!


JUNE 13, 2018

Celebrating Community Action, Global Connections

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Global Scholars Buffalo  welcomed 200 to year-end event

BUFFALO, NY. While exploring their school’s food environment earlier this year, middle school students at Dr. Lydia T. Wright School of Excellence—P.S. 89 in Buffalo, NY—noticed that there were few sources of healthy food nearby, and that some students couldn’t identify benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables. Across town at P.S. 81, students conducted a survey of food waste and were surprised to see how much good, healthy food was thrown away daily at their school. At Herman Badillo Bilingual Academy P.S. 76, students discussed the difficulties of growing food year-round in the northeastern Buffalo climate.

So each class took action.

These problems and solutions came into focus last Wednesday, June 6, at the Culmination Program for Global Scholars Buffalo, in which students from eight Buffalo middle schools showed off their Community Action Projects.

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  • P.S. 89 planned a school community garden, won a grant from Whole Kids Foundation for seeds and materials, and built it to grow healthy produce and educate the community. Now they will partner with the Buffalo Farm to School program to deliver fresh garden food directly to school cafeterias. (Scroll down to see their video!)
  • P.S. 81 wrote a cookbook to offer families—and the school cafeteria—delicious ways to prevent food waste. Carrots alone could become carrot chips, carrot soup, or glazed carrots. The Home Economics class demonstrated another option, converting ripe bananas to banana oatmeal muffins to serve at the Culmination Event.
  • P.S. 79 envisioned a school community garden with a self-watering innovation that could run year-round and use water wisely. 

"It was a showcase of what students have learned and accomplished this year in Global Scholars," said Pamela Littere, Instructional Technology Coach at Buffalo Public Schools. "The teachers and students did a wonderful job sharing their experiences with the many students, parents, school leaders, teachers, and community members who attended the event."  

"In future I could use
what I learned in Global Scholars
by helping to stop food waste."
Global Scholar, Buffalo

Buffalo is one of 64 cities participating in Global Scholars worldwide, allowing students ages 10 through 13 to connect with one another and to share projects and observations as they follow a shared curriculum. This year's theme was Feeding Our Cities. Students study global issues that affect all cities, such as food security and access to clean water, and the final Community Action Project lets them see that their actions make a difference.

"In the future I could use what I learned in Global Scholars by helping to stop food waste," said one Buffalo student. "I could plant my own food. Also, I could travel easier since I know a little about other countries in the world."

A highlight of Wednesday's Culmination Program was a live Skype chat with Global Scholars from Seoul, South Korea. Details such as time of day, what's for lunch, and today's weather become magical when shared with peers halfway across the world. Throughout the year, most of the interaction in Global Scholars is digital. Students post projects and ideas to the e-classroom and comment on the work of their international peers, learning to use English in a formal online setting, to communicate respectfully, and to share opinions and digital-project tips. In turn, they receive first-hand reports on a thrilling range of cities and perspectives.

VIDEO: Global Scholars at P.S. 89 in Buffalo document their journey from idea to school community garden.

"The most important thing I have learned about ways of life around the world through Global Scholars is that everyone is different and unique," said a Buffalo student, "and to accept another person's culture."


Find out more about the link between global digital education and student learning outcomes.

Feeding Our Cities: Global Scholars Launch Community Action Projects


April 20, 2018

Follow Along as Students in Detroit, Taipei and Other Global Cities Put Food Lessons to Use

After studying urban farms, students in Barcelona visited a local artichoke farm created on an abandoned lot. As a next step, they will launch their own food-related community action project.

After studying urban farms, students in Barcelona visited a local artichoke farm created on an abandoned lot. As a next step, they will launch their own food-related community action project.

Get your work boots on, because Global Scholars in 64 cities are launching year-end Community Action projects and we are following along in our new Twitter Series, #GlobalScholarsTakeAction! We’ll cheer on all classes and travel step-by-step with Detroit and Taipei. Discussions are just beginning in these classes about what community action means, what local food issues they might want to tackle, and how they will go about it. We’ll share each week on Twitter from our handle @GlobalCitiesOrg.  Join us!

Global Connections, Local Surprises

Middle school students have many “aha” moments as they study the global food system. Many didn’t know the distances some foods travel to reach their plates. Others didn’t realize how much of their food is grown locally. Most reported shock when they learned how much food is wasted in the course of feeding a city or a school.

Global Scholars ages 10-13 have spent the past 8 months studying “Feeding Our Cities.” They started with their own cities, interviewing food workers, surveying their schools on food waste, and creating posters, infographics, and videos of their findings. Then they shared digital projects with 13,000 peers around the world via our secure e-classroom and discussed one another’s work. Those global connections are coming in handy now, as students take global lessons back home.

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The year-end Community Action Projects hold multiple potential benefits for students and for their cities. For students, taking action helps drive home the lessons of the project-based Global Scholars curriculum. Each curriculum unit ends with a digital project, and throughout the school year students are encouraged to make connections between their studies and the world they inhabit. They design 3D inventions to imagine how farming innovations might work in their own cities, for instance, and discover with amazement not only new digital skills, but also how vertical farming might work in the opposite climates of Buffalo and Abu Dhabi. Global knowledge comes with a shared “wow.”

We were surprised that they throw away food
at the end of the day. We are going to talk about what we can do to rectify this situation.
— Global Scholar, age 12 Boston/Everett, Massachusetts

The community project takes the project-based approach beyond the classroom and even the e-classroom, asking students to step into their school courtyards, local parks, or wherever they see a need and a possible solution. Students tap critical thinking as they observe that some members of their community need food, while others throw away excess. They develop a new sense of self-efficacy as they brainstorm solutions. And as they share discoveries and plans with distant peers, self-efficacy can turn into global engagement. It’s one thing to imagine ways to irrigate your urban farm in Madrid; it’s another when a kid your age in Cape Town couldn’t do that because of a water ration.  

Seeing how students your age respond to the same assignment in different ways prompts productive conversations about diversity and the many factors that influence perspective, such as climate and culture.

No Better Time to Address Perspective

“Kids have enough cognitive ability at this age to be pretty sophisticated on perspective-taking,” says Dr. Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Professor of Child Development at Columbia University. “Looking at other cultures and cities is a perfect activity for this age because they can take the other perspective, which is much harder to do than if we were focusing this program on second and third graders.” In other words, an important window into global citizenship opens in middle school.

Cities benefit from a new cadre of informed, engaged, digitally-literate community members. The hope is that they will also benefit from whatever solution the students propose and build to address the common challenge of #FeedingOurCities.

The overall goal of Global Scholars is to build global competency skills for today’s students, who are after all tomorrow’s global citizens. The program advances four critical student learning outcomes of global education, identified by Global Cities: appreciation for diversity, cultural understanding, global knowledge, and global engagement. The last point includes communicating and collaborating with diverse communities to find solutions to global problems—and no better place to get started on those problems than locally. 

So follow us on Twitter at @GlobalCitiesOrg, or just search for the hashtag #GlobalScholarsTakeAction!  And thank you students and teachers; we need all the solutions we can find.


Global Cities, Inc. Paris Symposium: What We Heard and What We Learned


OCTOBER 26, 2017


After a day of robust discussions and enlightening presentations from global learning leaders and educators at our symposium in Paris on Monday, Marjorie B. Tiven, our founder and president, shared our charge for the future: “We need to develop students’ abilities to solve complex global problems. We need to embrace global learning, preparing students to appreciate diversity and value cultural understanding. Global knowledge and global engagement are an important part of what our schools have to teach. Schools need to prepare students for adult roles in their complex globalized futures.”

The event, Students and the Global Edge: Evaluating the Global Digital Education Experience, hosted by Global Cities, Inc. and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), provided an opportunity to share our efforts to better articulate student outcomes with measurable indicators. International digital exchange educators are creating the educational experiences and cross-cultural learning that is allowing us to assess global competency in the classroom.

Our symposium addressed our work to make student outcomes explicit, an essential step to establishing metrics. It also stressed the power of ideas that create for our students and ourselves a greater awareness of self and a deeper understanding of the world in which we live.  Andreas Schleicher, Director of Education and Skills at OECD, said at the symposium, “Let’s teach global competencies in a new school subject. The key is really how can we make [it] everybody’s idea that it is natural for someone who teaches mathematics to [also] teach divergent thinking. That it is natural for someone who teaches history to teach us the history from multiple lenses and … cultural perspectives.”

The day’s participants shared their energy and expertise, bringing global competency to students around the world. They discussed civic engagement to help adults and students critically assess the flood of information reaching them in the digital age, the importance of using data to build better schools, and the importance of pre- and post-program surveys to build better digital exchange experiences. We are grateful for their dedication and input as we continue our efforts to drive the conversation so that rising generations can take full advantage of the promises of globalization.

Symposium attendees had the opportunity to hear from former Mayor of New York City Mike Bloomberg, who made connections between global learning and the global problems facing society today: “I couldn’t believe more strongly in the importance of the Global Cities program and the Global Scholars, giving students the ability to interact with and understand different cultures. It really is critical to building a brighter future and connecting the world.” Sir Michael Wilshaw, former Chief Inspector of Schools in England, also shared his commitment to giving teachers the support they need to help young people acquire knowledge essential to their own lives and their own communities as well as to the roles they’ll play as adults in the wider world.

Our extensive white paper, “A Framework for Evaluating Student Outcomes in Global Digital Education,” which the symposium previewed, develops ambitious field standards for international digital exchange programs like Global Scholars and identifies measurable student outcomes for these programs. Our website will be a hub for symposium information including video coverage of the speakers and panel discussions; we will also post our white paper there once it is published. In Paris we reflected on the growth of the Global Scholars program and the field of international digital exchange and global education. We look forward to sharing with you our commitment to strengthening and contributing to this vital movement and its community of educators and students.



Paris Symposium to Address Urgent Need for Students to Collaborate with Other Cultures


OCTOBER 19, 2017

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At our symposium in Paris on October 23rd, Global Cities is bringing together leaders in the field of global education to discuss and evaluate the impact of international digital exchange experiences on student outcomes.  We are pleased that Michael R. Bloomberg, three-term Mayor of New York City and founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies, will be opening the meeting.

Mayor Bloomberg’s remarks will touch upon the urgent need for the next generation of students to collaborate with other cultures. The most serious challenges facing the world are global issues such as climate change, terrorism, and food insecurity. Digital exchange programs like Global Scholars emphasize cross-cultural collaboration and preparing students to take on those global challenges.

Global Cities’ Founder and President, Marjorie B. Tiven, will build upon those talking points at the Paris meeting.  She will discuss how schools play a crucial role in cultivating global citizenship, and the need for schools to teach students critical skills like cultural understanding and global knowledge.

The symposium is also a side event of CityLab 2017 in Paris, which you can learn more about here. In addition to comments from Mayor Bloomberg, Marjorie, and other leaders in the field, educators from 14 countries will draw upon their classroom experience to add to the discussion. The event will also be previewing our groundbreaking white paper on identifying standards for measuring student outcomes in international digital exchange programs. Global Cities looks forward to working with and learning from all its participants at the conference.



Global cities welcomes new board members


OCTOBER 11, 2017

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As a new school-year begins, Global Cities Inc. continues to grow as more schools and cities join our Global Scholars network. We are also growing our leadership, and we are delighted to welcome three new members to our advisory board – Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Charlynn Goins, and John B. King Jr. Our new board members bring a rich and varied set of experiences in the fields of education and youth development.

Jeanne Brooks-Gunn is the Virginia and Leonard Marx Professor of Child Development at Columbia University’s Teachers College and the College of Physicians and Surgeons, and she also is co-director of the National Center for Children and Families. In her work and research, she focuses on family and community influences upon the development of children and youth.

Charlynn Goins is Chairman Emerita of the New York Community Trust, where she served as chair from
2009 through 2014, and continues to serve on its board. From 2008 through 2015, she served on the Board of Directors of Fannie Mae. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Century Association, and the New York Women’s Forum.

John B. King Jr. is President and CEO of the Education Trust, a national nonprofit organization that seeks to identify and close opportunity and achievement gaps, from preschool through college. He served as the U.S. Secretary of Education from 2016 to 2017 under President Barack Obama. He is noted for his lifelong commitment to education as a teacher, principal, and school system administrator, and for his passion for advancing educational equality for all students.

The arrival of our new board members is particularly timely as we prepare for our Paris symposium, Students and the Global Edge: Evaluating the Global Education Experience. At the meeting we will release our white paper on best practices for defining and evaluating student outcomes in the field of international digital exchange. Global Cities looks forward to drawing on the guidance of both our new and existing board members for these upcoming milestones and for our greater mission of cultivating the next generation of global citizens.



evaluating the global education experience with influencers in global learning


OCTOBER 4, 2017

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Plans for our upcoming symposium in Paris are underway, and we are especially excited about bringing together some of the influencers in global learning. The expertise of the participants at Students and the Global Edge: Evaluating the Global Education Experience will help us develop, implement, and evaluate outcomes standards for international digital exchanges.

The discussion will include Andreas Schleicher, OECD’s Director for the Directorate of Education and Skills. OECD recognizes the need for young people across cultures to develop global competencies and will begin testing on this topic in 2018 as part of its PISA exam. The OECD report, Global competency for an inclusive world, explores how an increasingly globalized world will require young people to collaborate across cultures to solve complex issues facing their generation.

Participating as well will be Sir Michael Wilshaw, formerly Chief Inspector of Schools in England and former head of the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted). Sir Michael worked to reform England’s evaluation standards, advocating such innovative assessment metrics as student emotional health and preparedness for employment.

Liz Dawes Duraisingh, a principal investigator in the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Out of Eden Learn program, will bring to the gathering her perspective on how an online learning community can promote cross-cultural inquiry and exchange among students throughout the world. Much of Liz’s work has focused on encouraging young people to be curious about their world and the value of exchanging stories with peers from other cultures.

The symposium will provide a forum for thoughtful discussion on best practices for defining and evaluating student outcomes in the field of digital exchange, which is the subject of our white paper. Global Cities is grateful for the many global learning leaders and organizations that share our dedication to preparing students for their future roles as world citizens.



Global cities to evaluate the impact of digital exchange programs


SEPTEMBER 19, 2017

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Education leaders and teachers are eager to help their students learn about each other and cultivate skills for global citizenship.  Global Scholars, a program operated by Global Cities, Inc., has been a leader in this area; last year, more than 10,000 students in 26 countries participated in our peer-to-peer digital exchange program.

Global Cities is sponsoring the Students and the Global Edge: Evaluating the Global Education Experience symposium this October, bringing educators from our network together in Paris to explore outcomes desired from digital exchange and to discuss how we can evaluate the impact of these programs on students.  

Experts at the convening will include:

  • Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP & Bloomberg Philanthropies, and 108th Mayor of New York City
  • Andreas Schleicher, Director of Education and Skills at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
  • Tony Travers, Director of Government at the London School of Economics
  • Ester Fuchs, Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University
  • Morris J. Vogel, former President of New York’s Lower East Side Tenement Museum
  • Sir Michael Wilshaw, former Chief Inspector of Schools, England, Head, Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted)

At the meeting, we will present an extensive white paper on digital global exchange and student outcomes, drawing on several years of significant classroom experience from our Global Scholars curricula, platforms and professional development workshops. We’ll join with our participants to consider strategies for evaluating and increasing the effectiveness of digital student exchange programs.

Global Cities is dedicated to readying students to become thoughtful stewards of the human future, and we are excited to build on this work by developing ambitious field standards for international digital exchange.





AUGUST 23, 2017

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In the 2016-17 school year, students and educators from 26 countries and 47 cities participated in the Global Scholars program; 13 of those cities were in the United States and 34 cities outside the U.S. The number of schools participating within each of those cities varies. As the number of participating schools in a particular city expands to include 3 or more schools, it becomes a “hub” city with a “hub” leader or central contact on the ground serving as a liaison with Global Scholars.

Our current hub cities include Barcelona, Boston, Buenos Aires, Buffalo, Fort Lauderdale, London, Madrid, Miami, Mumbai, New York, Taipei, Tel Aviv and Warsaw. For the 2017-18 school year, we are excited to see existing partner cities significantly expand their number of participating schools. In Taipei, Global Scholars will be expanding from 11 to 19 schools. We expect this expansion to continue; in fact, one Taipei school is also revising their English language curriculum in younger grades specifically to better to prepare students for Global Scholars as they reach middle school. This relationship has also been strengthened by having an educator from Taipei working at Global Cities, Inc. this summer, providing valuable feedback and support to our team and curriculum development.

One of the advantages to hub cities is the enhanced interaction among local teachers through professional development and networking. Cities with expanded participation are also able to host events where students and educators come together for end of year celebrations or large Skype sessions with international cities. We look forward to more cities across the globe expanding their participation with Global Scholars.


Middle School is a Critical Time to Develop Global Competency Skills


JUNE 29, 2017

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Beginning in 2018, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) test for 15-year-olds, administered by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), will include global competency. Middle school is a critical time for young people to develop skills for living in an inter-connected world and participating in a workforce where they will be communicating with people from around the globe.

Model initiatives to prepare students for an inclusive world are being tested today through international digital exchanges, such as our Global Scholars program. Our worldwide network of 10,500 students age 10-13 provides the opportunity to gain global competency skills, attitudes and behavior, with no fee to schools. Urban school districts are encouraged to apply to the Global Scholars program. Priority is given to school districts that present an effective plan for providing leadership and support on the district level.

Interested district leaders can email to learn more.


Buffalo Schools Host Global Scholars Culmination Night Featuring Skype Call With Peers in Tokyo


JUNE 19, 2017

Buffalo Public School students who have participated in the Global Scholars program this year came together on June 8 with educators, parents, and administrators to celebrate and showcase their student work. Speakers at the event included Assistant Superintendent of Buffalo City School District Dr. Fatima Morrell, and Meg Louis, Vice President of Global Cities, Inc., as well as a few Global Scholars who also came up to the podium to present their work to the audience.

The event culminated in a Skype call between Buffalo students and their Global Scholars peers in Tokyo, Japan. The students exchanged questions with each other about their favorite parts of the program, information about their cities and schools, and their favorite sports, music, food, and books. Global Scholars from both sides were excited to find out about several shared interests.

The Global Scholars curriculum ends with students creating a Community Action Project that makes a difference in their school or city. One of the projects displayed at the event featured students who partnered with a felt manufacturing company that was disposing their excess felt in a landfill. The students repurposed the excess felt and designed products such as wallets, bags, and cardholders, which were successfully sold at an art fair. Throughout the year these Buffalo students learned about the links between technology and sustainability, saw an opportunity to develop a project, and were able to address a local issue through investigation and collaboration.

#60Lessons Twitter Chat on June 7


JUNE 5, 2017

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We are excited to host a Twitter chat on Wednesday, June 7 at 8 p.m. (ET) to discuss global education and Fernando Reimers’s new book, Empowering Students to Improve the World in Sixty Lessons. Using the hashtag #60Lessons, we will bring together educators and supporters of global education to share our interest in global learning and tools and insights for the classroom and beyond.

Here is a preview of the questions we will use to guide our conversation on Wednesday:

1.  What is global citizenship education to you, and why is it important?

2.  What opportunities help students understand the world in which they live, and how they can learn to improve it?

3.  What tools and resources can help schools include global education in their curricula?

4.  What challenges do educators face including global competencies in their lesson plans?

5.  How can we better prepare students to succeed in a diverse and interdependent world?


Follow us @globalcitiesorg -- we look forward to chatting with you! 


A New Resource for Teaching Students to Understand, Care About and Improve the World


May 25, 2017

As a member of our Advisory Board, Fernando M. Reimers shares in our mission to create opportunities for students to learn about the world and take action as innovators and thinkers. In his new book, Empowering Students to Improve the World in Sixty Lessons, Professor Reimers has joined with his students at the Harvard Graduate School of Education to provide tools and a curriculum prototype for teachers and school leaders who recognize the importance of including global learning in K-12 education systems.

Professor Reimers defines global citizenship education as: “supporting educators so that schools can enhance human rights, educate about shared global challenges, educate for engaged citizenship, focus on dispositions and values as much as skills, and attend to the conditions that make it possible for schools to be effective in achieving these goals.” With praise from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that is planning to assess global competence in PISA 2018, this book is a welcome resource for educators around the globe who are motivating students to appreciate cultural differences and change the world.


Global Cities, Inc. Joins with Out of Eden Learn to Cultivate the Next Generation of Global Citizens


April 26, 2017

Our Global Scholars program offers educators a constructive approach to counter recent trends of xenophobia and intolerance. Using digital technology, students interact across different cultures, gaining an appreciation for diversity and curiosity about the world at an early age. In this effort, we have found common ground with Out of Eden Learn (OOEL), developed by Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Global Cities, Inc. has committed $250,000 to OOEL’s online learning community that fosters thoughtful cross-cultural inquiry and exchange.

As presenters at our symposium last year on The Future of International Digital Learning, OOEL shares our interest in evaluating student outcomes in digital exchanges. Students who participate in these programs are learning from one another in e-classrooms that are geographically diverse. Global Scholars and Out of Eden Learn provide cross-disciplinary curricula that support broader school-specific goals and motivate students to develop an interest in learning about the world and solving global problems. 

“The world has its dangers, just as your hometown does,” said Paul Salopek, a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and National Geographic Fellow, speaking to OOEL students who are following Paul on his Out of Eden Walk around the world. He added: “The world is your home, too. Don’t fear it.” Whether building cultural understanding, sparking a desire to communicate or connecting peers around the world, Out of Eden Learn is helping to cultivate the next generation of global citizens. We are pleased to have them as an ally in the vital field of global education.


Announcing "Feeding Our Cities"


MARCH 14, 2017

We are pleased to announce the all-new Global Scholars curriculum for the next school year, leading students worldwide through the complex systems that grow and distribute food to the world.

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Whether you are new to Global Scholars or a multi-year veteran, please contact us to reserve your school's spot in next year's e-classroom. Limited space is available for public school districts worldwide.

How an International e-Classroom Inspires Tech Learning


FEBRUARY 14, 2017

Digital skills. Cross-cultural savvy. Today's middle school students need both to become tomorrow's global citizens. Educators using the international digital exchange program Global Scholars—and one inventor—came together in New York City on February 7 to discuss the benefits of connecting 10,500 students ages 10-13 through global e-classrooms.


Ayah Bdeir, Founder and CEO of LittleBits, added: “The way we approach it—and I think it’s in line with the Global Scholars program—is, we want to equip students to be problem-solvers, to be critical-thinkers so that they can themselves invent the world they want to live in and be adaptable to whatever comes their way. We can help them become collaborative creators.”

“The most important aspect of Global Scholars—at least the one that I value the most—is motivation,” explained Xavier Cortina, Educator at Institut Vall de Llemena in Girona, Spain. “They are sharing their knowledge with students the same age. They use their knowledge of other subjects in a really practical and meaningful way. The students know that the products that they make will not stay inside the classroom but it will be seen by a lot of people.”

Our e-Classroom is Growing


JANUARY 17, 2017

Welcoming New Cities: Abu Dhabi, Beijing (pictured), Buffalo, Chengdu, Gothenburg, Houston, Manila, Oakland, Providence, St. Louis, Singapore and Tokyo


Global Scholars Participants:

More than 10,500 students ages 10-13 in 47 cities, 26 countries, on five continents

Global Scholars is the signature program of Global Cities, Inc., a program of Bloomberg Philanthropies. There are no fees to schools for participation in Global Scholars. Space is available for urban public school districts. Priority is given to districts that enroll multiple schools and provide local leadership. If you are a district leader interested in finding out more, please email