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Looking In, Looking Out: Introspection + Global Climate Change

Do you tend to speak first in a group discussion, or do you listen to others before contributing? When you make decisions, is it your head or your heart that determines your direction? Poised for introspection in the week following Seminal Readings, students engaged in a classic SEGL activity to determine their leadership styles.

Using these two questions above as guidance, students split into four groups: the Drivers (speak first and make decisions with their heads), the Expressives (speak first and make decisions with their hearts), the Analysts (wait to speak and make decisions with their heads), and the Supportives (wait to speak and make decisions with their hearts). All four groups completed the same task, with totally different results. The variety in their outcomes revealed just how different these styles of leadership are–and just how essential it is to have that variety reflected in any group making decisions (and even within any individual leader!).

This introspective activity, along with a series of identity-related readings (Beverly Daniel Tatum’s “The Complexity of Identity: Who am I?”, Steve Biko’s “The Definition of Black Consciousness,” and Samantha Vice’s “How Do I Live In This Strange Place?”) translated into an assignment for each student to write their own “socio-cultural autobiographies.” The goal: Twenty years from now, when they reread it, it will re-ground them in the identity of their teenage selves and provide a call to action for the things that mattered to them most.

Interspersed with this inward reflection was an introduction to design thinking, led by ALA’s own internal design thinking expert, Ms. Ssanyu Sematimba. Key aspects of this process include developing a problem statement, a solution statement, and ultimately a prototype for how to tackle the issue. Students must empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and eventually test their solutions. And after all of the introspection of the last several weeks, students then began to look out into the world and apply their new understanding of design thinking to the immense global issue of climate change in five very different places: Haiti; Lagos, Nigeria; the UAE; Manila, Philippines; and Yemen. Each group is responsible for designing a non-governmental solution to combat the root causes of climate change in each location. They’ll be presenting their ideas for feedback this week!

Also featured in this post: Photos from Founders’ Day, a hilarious and fun day of competitions and activities to celebrate ALA’s founding. SEGL students are dressed to represent their “Houses,” named for the main rivers in Africa: Congo, Niger, Nile, Tana, Volta, and Zambezi. Ask a student to find out what some of the COVID-safe competitive activities were – and which House was victorious!

Up next: Public health in South Africa, from the AIDS epidemic to COVID-19.

Mar 8, 2021 3:49 am