First CSCLeaders for Students in Boston, USA

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In mid-January the Global Student Team delivered CSCLeaders for Students, the inaugural Common Purpose programme in the USA. The programme was sponsored by the Weir Group and delivered in partnership with Harvard College Office of Student Life as part of the Wintersession - a week long opportunity for Harvard students to focus on co-curricular activities and non-academic development opportunities.

CSCLeaders for Students are four day leadership development programmes held in major cities where significant numbers of students from across the Commonwealth study. This programme saw participants from 12 countries come together to tackle the same challenge as the senior leaders: 'How do you get societal - as well as economic - value from technological innovation?' In addition to learning about the challenge, and the process of innovation more generally, the students also developed their Cultural Intelligence through frank conversations with people from vastly different cultures. Dominic Akandwanaho, an undergraduate student at Harvard, commented on the impact of this: "It has been very intriguing to see how people have different perspectives on issues and to think about what kind of experiences may have informed their thinking along the way."

Over the four days the students interacted with speakers from organisations such as the American Red Cross of Massachusetts, Cambridge Innovation Center, Pfizer, Action for Boston Community Development, Goulston & Storrs, The Boston Globe, MIT Sloan Leadership Center and the US Attorney for the District of Massachusetts. Richard Dimino, CEO of A Better City, had this to say about his involvement: "I had the chance to work with a wonderful group of young professionals and young academics who are thinking about their futures and I was very pleased to be able to do so. They asked great questions about how they shape their future, how they can be engaged with improving their communities...I can see that there is a very constructive effort on their part to actually make a real difference."

The participants' responses to the challenge demonstrated a determination to engage university students, which Boston has in abundance, in addressing a range of societal issues. The ideas were all conceived as projects could be implemented locally, but which had the potential to be scaled up and rolled out once proven successful. 

 The ideas generated were:

 Blend: Bringing university students into Boston high schools to offer after-school classes which combine online lecture videos with in-person group discussions.

  • Boston is home to thousands of university students but the city suffers from a
    disconnect between students and its communities.
  • Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) exist to provide high quality education at low cost, but suffer high dropout rates.
  • Blend combines MOOCs with tutors from Harvard and MIT to engage the students beyond the online offering to lessen dropout rate. 

 Help Me Help You!: Connectingnot-for-profit organisations with specific skills gaps with university students in Boston.

  • Studentvolunteers gain experience, develop local networks and have the opportunity to maximise their impact.
  • Not-for-profit organisations gain tailored solutions from students that can bring passion and new perspectives to their challenges.
  • Harvard and MIT both offer undergraduate courses requiring students to complete a project element each year. Help Me Help You! seeks to become a formal broker
    for this project element.

 i-Migrant: Creating a pathway for immigrants to fulfil their American dream.

  • America is a nation of immigrants. i-Migrant is an online platform providing migrants with easy access to information, advice on pathways to legalised status and support for career opportunities.
  • i-Migrant is available as a website and a mobile app and can be used by existing outreach groups as well as individuals.
  • i-Migrant comprises a series of testimonials from people that have gained citizen status to the US, as well as a questionnaire to establish whether the user has a pathway to citizenship. If the questionnaire finds the user can be helped, they will be directed to a legal assistant who can support them.
  • i-Migrant will leverage the legal and technical expertise of the Harvard network.        

Karma Points: a new way of recognising the service of volunteers.

  • An online platform which facilitates matches between students' unique interests
    and abilities with community groups in Boston.
  • Karma Points replaces the traditional metric of the 'community service hour',
    providing a richer measurement of the impact of a volunteer's time.
  • Karma Points can be showcased on a user's social media profiles, creating a
    competitive edge between students over who has the most points - thus driving a
    culture change towards celebrating community service.
  • Karma Points also links to local businesses and start-ups who will provide rewards to students in recognition of Karma Points earned, in exchange for raising their profile amongst this target demographic.


The next CSCLeaders for Students programme will take place in Trinidad in March 2014 before the findings of all of 2013/14 student programmes are passed onto the senior leaders.

 

 

 

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About CSCLeaders

CSCLeaders is the renewal of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh’s Commonwealth Study Conferences - first run in 1956 – for the 21st Century, a partnership between international leadership development organisation Common Purpose and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh’s Commonwealth Study Conferences (UK Fund).

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