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Young people in the United States are proactively taking action to tackle global issues and say they want to pursue careers where they can make a difference, according to new research from Cambridge International.
Over 11,000 students aged 13 to 19 took part in Cambridge International’s first-ever Global Perspectives survey. They shared their views on global issues, how they learn about them, and how their awareness of these issues might impact their future career choices.
The poll revealed there is a clear desire from students to learn about global issues in school, with 97% of U.S. students agreeing that it is important to do so. However, two in five U.S. students (40%) also said that they don’t learn about their most important global issue in school but think it would be beneficial if they did, high compared to a global average of 31%.
Students in the U.S. believe climate change is the single biggest issue facing the world today, with 39% saying this in the survey. Pollution, including plastic waste, is viewed as the second biggest global issue by U.S. students and intolerance of people because they are different came third in the poll. Globally, a quarter (26%) of all the students who responded to the survey said they felt climate change was the biggest issue facing the world today.
“Cambridge Global Perspectives™ provides students with the unique opportunity to examine and understand the impact of issues like climate change and pollution on their local community, as well as communities across the globe,” said Mark Cavone, Cambridge Assessment International Education Regional Director, North America. “With the Cambridge program, students learn the critical thinking, research, and problem-solving skills needed to be part of the global conversation on how to solve the big issues facing the world today.”
More than 70% of students surveyed said they would like to pursue a career where they can make a positive contribution to solving global issues. Further, 76% will consider what potential employers’ attitudes are to key global issues when applying for jobs in the future.
Ninety-two percent of U.S. students said they take some form of action to raise awareness of global issues. Globally, respondents in the U.S. were most likely to join a relevant club or organization concerning their most important global issue (31% vs. a global average of 17%). They were also most likely to contact their political representatives (16% vs. a global average of 6%).
“Students taking Cambridge Global Perspectives™ start to look at the world differently and think more carefully about what they see in the media and national discourse. They become not just mindless consumers of information but they are more active and engaged and analytical in their thinking, so I see them as better thinkers, and as one of my students said, better citizens,” said Meredith McGinnis, a Global Perspectives teacher at John Overton High School in Nashville, Tennessee.
“In a world that is constantly evolving with some huge global challenges ahead, we feel that it is even more important that students not only engage with key global issues, but develop the skills to research, discuss and evaluate the facts, and work with others to understand different perspectives around the world,” said Christine Özden, Chief Executive of Cambridge International. “Cambridge Global Perspectives™ equips students with the essential skills they need for further study at university and for the future world of work. We look forward to giving many more schools and students the opportunity to learn about this unique program during Cambridge Global Perspectives Week.”
Globally, around a third of students surveyed said they don’t learn about global issues in school, but 96% said they feel it is important to learn about them. Two-thirds of those surveyed said they believe major issues, like climate change and poverty and economic equality, will be worse by 2030.
Students around the world are motivated to make a difference and help address these issues. 92% said they take individual action to tackle their top issue of concern, and four out of five students globally said they are keen to pursue a career where they can make a difference.
Cambridge Global Perspectives is a unique and stimulating program that provides an opportunity for students aged 5 to 19 to think and learn more about the topics and global issues they care about. It focuses on enabling students to develop life-long skills like critical thinking, research, collaboration, and evaluation.