2019-2020 Academic Year End Report

Welcome to our Virtual Year-End Report! 

In response to the drastic shift to digital content and virtual programs in the past few months, the Education staff has decided to offer our year-end report in a dynamic, virtual format. Please enjoy our interactive report and be sure to engage with the content produced by students during our 2019-2020 program year.

Education Programs Overview

The World Affairs Council produces educational programming and global issues forums to diverse audiences throughout the Greater Philadelphia region, including Council members, students, teachers and the general public. Since its founding in 1949, the Council has hosted more than 5,000 prominent speakers at events that have reached more than 500,000 community participants, forging a continuous dialogue between policymakers and the public. Over the past 71 years, the Council has also impacted the lives of more than a half million middle and high school students, providing them with meaningful opportunities to think critically and engage actively in their local and global communities.

Each year, the Council produces a range of global education and leadership programs for an extraordinarily diverse group of over 2,000 middle and high school students from 80 schools across the Greater Philadelphia region. The overarching goals of these programs is to instill in today’s youth the skills, knowledge, and global awareness needed to live, work, and thrive in a rapidly evolving, increasingly interconnected world. Our programs include international forum simulations and conferences, global leadership summer institutes and briefings with high-level policy and opinion makers, as well as corporate, government and nonprofit leaders.

All student and teacher participants of the Council’s education programs are provided the opportunity to attend, as Council guests, our regularly scheduled speaker programs. This access affords students the chance to listen to and pose questions of influential national and global leaders, alongside Council members and local civic leaders. Recently, the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia was proud to expose about 160 students to a fantastic list of speakers, including:

Former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power
Former Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie
The 66th Secretary of State, Dr. Condoleeza Rice
Former Ambassador, Nicholas Burns
Chief White House Correspondent for CNN, Jim Acosta

The 2019-2020 academic year saw an array of challenges and opportunities to education programs in the United States and throughout the world. Beginning in March 2020, the novel coronavirus forced schools in the greater Philadelphia region to begin remote instruction, and limited the opportunities for students to engage directly in in-person extracurricular programming. As detailed through this report, we responded to these challenges by instituting a number of policies and revamped programming assuring that students and faculty had the opportunity to partner with us in a remote learning capacity. However, in consideration of the health and safety of students, faculty and our staff, some educational programming had to be postponed due to significant health concerns regarding the virus.

Through participation in the Council’s various educational programs, Philadelphia-region middle and high school students have opportunities to expand their knowledge and understanding of global affairs and international policy making. They also develop the confidence needed to engage more actively in school, gain access to a larger social network dedicated to their academic success, and build relationships with a diverse set of peers from across the Greater Philadelphia region.

Additionally, the Council’s educational mission supports a national interest in cultivating leaders and citizens who are informed, forward-thinking and can work collaboratively and creatively across geographical, cultural, economic and political borders. By nurturing the development of these skills, we not only prepare young Americans to pursue successful careers, but we also prepare them with an international context and deeper understanding of how to be competent and thoughtful global citizens.

World Affairs Council's Education Goals

The Council’s educational programs are structured to provide students with the core skills, knowledge and sensibilities required to work and contribute effectively to a 21st century global marketplace.

Statement of Need: The Importance of Global Competency in Philadelphia and Beyond

The events of 2019 and 2020 have been equally historic, challenging, and hopeful. Domestic and international crises reshaped our students' education, social experiences, and extracurricular activities. In the face of these challenges, the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia has reaffirmed its commitment to providing critical and substantive global affairs related programming for students. In addition, the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia recognizes the historic nature of this moment, and further commits itself to providing students a platform to confront these global issues, and to develop into leaders. 

The intensity of the recent challenges has been matched by a profound enthusiasm from our students and teachers. We saw a continued interest in our simulation programming covering a myriad of topics of global concern. The International Student Summit on Information and Democracy tackled the growing threats of misinformation and disinformation on democratic institutions. Students attending our signature Jr. Model UN program explored international efforts to combat climate change and aid refugees. And for the first time in a decade, students participated in a Model Senate Foreign Relations committee, and were introduced to the complex space between international affairs and domestic politics. 

Through these programs, and the individual connections with students from Bodine High School for International Affairs and our Summer Global Leadership Seminar, we remain hopeful for the next generation of leaders. Their compassion, energy, and excitement for international relations and global affairs remains unwavering even through the closing of schools, and the transition to online learning. Their successes, highlighted throughout this report, serve as testament to the World Affairs Council’s 70+ year educational legacy.