Over the past decade, Winsor has embarked on a program of curricular and pedagogical innovation with the aim of preparing young women for a 21st-century world. The introduction of the Global Forum brings to life a key recommendation of our faculty’s strategic plan, approved in 2012, to explore “dedicated curricular arenas for the application of global competencies, multidisciplinary problem-solving, and student-centered learning.”
The forum will offer a distinct five-day curriculum for the entire school in which problem-solving skills, interdisciplinary approaches, and global competencies are applied to real-world problems and global issues. This separate yet complementary curriculum not only will allow the students and faculty the time to immerse themselves collectively in the study of socially relevant world issues but also will serve as an “innovation lab” for creative approaches to teaching and problem solving. Issues of local and global significance—such as poverty, energy, hunger or disease—transcend national and disciplinary boundaries and thus require creative learning approaches.
The topic for our inaugural Global Forum is Waste Not Want Not: An investigation into what we throw away. Waste production and disposal is an obvious global (and local) problem, and our Global Forum will help our students and community explore ways to address such an issue. At the beginning of next school year, all students will be asked to choose a single course of inquiry related to this topic that is of interest to them and that will be pursued intensively throughout the week. These courses, which we will call studios, will allow small groups of like-minded participants to explore a particular dimension of our modern waste problem and work toward specific and practical solutions. Winsor teachers and outside experts will serve as studio facilitators in guiding participants in their inquiry and problem solving. In the months preceding the Global Forum, some assembly and community time will be used to introduce the community to the topic and to organize participants (including students and faculty) into their studio groups.
We aim to hold the Global Forum every two years in order to plan adequately for a weeklong change in schedule and curriculum, to introduce the students and broader community gradually to the Global Forum topic, and to ensure that students are ready to engage deeply during their studio workshops.
Active student participation at all levels of planning and execution of the Global Forum will provide valuable leadership opportunities and will blur the distinction between student and teacher. The Global Forum also offers new opportunities for tapping into the remarkable human resources—including alumnae, parents and local experts—available to Winsor in the Boston and wider New England areas.
Finally, we are pleased to announce that Winsor is collaborating with MIT’s Edgerton Center in conducting our Global Forum. The Edgerton Center has extensive experience creating innovative curricula for primary and secondary schools, and our relationship with them gives us access to MIT’s expertise on a wide variety of global issues.