Encouraging College Students to Engage With the World

Much of my time in the last couple months has been spent working on projects to encourage curiosity and awareness of the world in the college students with whom I work.  In this rural US college community where I currently work, there seems to be a lack of interest in the global arena and different cultures among the students (particularly the undergraduates).

The major question for me has been: how do we encourage genuine curiosity in “the other” and increase positive engagement between disparate groups of people?  I am not quite sure what the answer might be, and to be honest, I don’t think there is just one answer.  However, I feel compelled to do what I can to work toward this end.

One of the ways I am working to address this issue is by creating events to bring awareness of current global issues and encouraging some beginning steps of individual exploration by the students.  Of course, this is a college campus, so there are plenty of opportunities for students to attend lectures and educational events, and these are all important.  However, I am always looking to create opportunities for engagement that are humanizing, genuine, and (whenever possible) joyful.

My most recent creation is focused on creating a series of events around the International Day of Peace.   There are several organizations out there whose mission focuses on this day and have different campaigns to bring awareness to violent conflicts around the world.

Some events might be along the lines of Peace One Day‘s events like “One Day One Dance” or “Set For Peace”.  I have started by outlining desired outcomes of these potential events, meeting with current students and asking them what they enjoy doing and what types of events might be most engaging to them, and taking stock of potential campus/community partners.  Some ideas I’ve considered are interviewing students and creating a video about peace that would be premiered in the main student lounge (with food and invitees, of course), Zumbathons to raise money for an organization like Search For Common Ground, exploring how music or dance can be used to promote peace…but I’m kind of hitting a wall.

What will encourage college students in a rural (but kind of a party-focused) college community to explore and engage the world in an authentic way?

Any suggestions for me?


 (Image from: imperialmotion.com)



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