On September 5 and 6 of this year at the International School Manila (ISM), delegates from six local high schools joined together to take part in the first annual Global Issues Network Manila Conference. Affectionately known as GINila, this student-led conference strived to empower participants to contextualize and engage with global issues in their sphere of influence by creating sustainable action plans. Global issues for this year included promoting education for all, a massive step-up in the fight against poverty, addressing biodiversity and ecosystems losses and natural disaster prevention and mitigation. Over the course of 48 hours, students participated in service trips, a simulation, student facilitated workshops to help them formulate their initiatives to tackle these issues.
Amidst all the commotion and dynamism of the weekend, Compass Education intern and ISM alumni, Daniel Um, had the opportunity to not only get to know some of this year’s GINila members, but to conduct an investigation into how using systems thinking and sustainability tools enabled GINila to achieve its overall goal. For at the heart of the conference structure was ISM’s own version of Pyramid Lite- an abridge version of the ISIS Pyramid Process developed by Alan Atkisson and used around the world as a sustainability planning tool. The hopes of the students and faculty coordinators or GINila was that by using sustainability tools to structure the conference, it would enable to understand their place in the local system and how they could impact it to address global issues in a sustainable way.
Through the use of a survey, interviews and his own observations, Daniel investigated how well the Compass was able to develop delegates’ appreciation and understanding of sustainability, empower students and educate them on how to effectively use sustainability tool to create action plans. His findings indicated that the conference was successful to some extent with regards to all three categories. Some aspects of the conference that were key to promoting success included:
- Teaching systems thinking: using games like the systems equilateral triangle game and feedback loop circle game to teach delegates about tough systems concept.
- Saturday service trips: trips to local service sites to observe, conduct interviews and serve help to contextualize issues and shed light on more pieces of the system.
- Use of the Sustainability Compass: it helps delegates think about issues in a holistic way
- Increased facilitator knowledge and practice: more practice before hand helps facilitators become more adaptable and dynamic group leaders.
- Use the Iceberg Model: many of the initial action plans of GANGs were very superficial. Maximizing the use of Iceberg Model could help deepen analysis.
- Longer time frame: delegates and facilitators felt rushed. More time might lead to better plans.
Watch how students effectively using the Sustainability Compass and Systems Thinking tools to address global issues and create action plans at the GINila 2014 .Video courtesy by GINila 2014 Kaibigan