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AFS Global Conference held in Hungary

More than 450 educators, researchers, business leaders and policymakers from 70 countries convened in Budapest for the first AFS Global Conference to discuss the importance of global competence in education at a time when “globalism is under attack”, and nationalism is on the rise.

President and CEO of AFS Daniel Obst on stage at the inaugral conference in Budapest. Photo: AFS

More than 450 educators, researchers, business leaders and policymakers from 70 countries attended

AFS Intercultural Programs, a leading nonprofit international education organisation, held its inaugural conference in September to explore the theme ‘Global Competence: Our Future, Our  Responsibility’.

“Preparing young minds and people of all ages to learn, live and work together is more important than ever”

Hosted by AFS Hungary, the event reflected AFS’ commitment to bringing prominent educators and researchers together with social entrepreneurs, policymakers, business leaders and funders to make global competence an integral part of school curricula, youth activities and workplace professional development programs worldwide.

Preparing young minds and people of all ages to learn, live and work together is more important than ever, explained Melissa Liles, chief Global Engagement officer at AFS Intercultural Programs.

“‘AFS and our distinguished partners organised the 2018 AFS Global Conference to build active partnerships and coalitions that will transform how we educate people to successfully navigate, collaborate and thrive in a complex diverse world.

“Our goal was to showcase promising and practical evidence-based solutions and strategies—and connect the innovators and implementers behind them with the resources needed to bring their visions to scale,” she added.

Chair of the AFS Board of Trustees, Vishakha Desai, opened the three-day conference with a warning that “globalism is under attack” and charged attendees to take joint responsibility for building global competence among young people.

Through five main plenary sessions, more than 50 concurrent workshops, and live streamed interviews with leaders, attendees focused on critical components of the global competence education movement—from curriculum development to fundraising and partnerships required to scale up successful initiatives.

Five awards were presented to individuals, organisations and institutions whose initiatives were found to exhibit an outstanding commitment to championing global competence, including OECD’s director for education and skills, Andreas Schleicher, who became the first recipient of the AFS Global Leader Award.

The conference also saw the launch of the AFS Center for Intercultural Learning and Global Competence, scheduled to open in early 2019.

This online community of researchers, scholars and educators will create a virtual  “think-and-do-tank” to advocate for global competence to be part of all classrooms, lecture halls and workplaces globally.

AFS also announced it will be offering the AFS Global Competence Readiness Index for Schools worldwide, which is described as a self-assessment tool to help make global competence development a core part of schools.

Speaking to The PIE News, president and CEO of AFS, Daniel Obst said that one aspect that the conference will turn its attention to next year is “taking action”.

“We will be exploring what the role of a global citizen is in the world: it’s not just about skills and competencies, but values and attitudes. That element is something we will be focusing on because as a volunteer organisation with 50,000 volunteers the idea of taking action is very important to us,” he said.

The next AFS Global Conference will take place in Montreal, Canada, in October 2019.

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