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.

Blog_FeedingOurCities_pic2 food waste.png

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.