Youth in a Changing World

Genesis of the project

In April 2017, the Committee on Global Thought launched the research project, “Thoughts on a Changing World,” by hosting a virtual conversation among participants on campus and at Columbia’s nine Global Centers to discuss issues that appeared most pressing in local contexts. The goal of this genuinely Global Think-in was to generate questions about the changing world that would set the research agenda for the CGT project.

One unexpected outcome of the global conversation was the emphasis placed on youth in every location, whether Amman, Nairobi, Mumbai, or New York: youth and work, youth and technology, youth and identity, youth and politics, and so on. The demographic surge in Africa (11 million youth people entering the job market annually), India (the world’s largest youth population), and the Arab Middle East (60% of the population is under 25), coupled with chronic youth unemployment, which afflicts developed as well as developing countries, means that youth are both a local and global challenge. Concerns about youth, repeated in diverse contexts, suggested that the first phase of the larger project should be Youth in a Changing World (YCW).

Collective Drawing: Security and Well-being, YCW Columbia Workshop, 2019.

Conversations with youth about youth

Youth in a Changing World explores the experiences and perspectives of young people around the world (ages 18-25) through a series of multi-modal and dialogical workshops. The project asks, “How are youth around the world affecting and being affected by the rapidly changing world?”  Carol Gluck, Vishakha N. Desai, Patricia Culligan, Laura Neitzel, and Darlene Dubuisson are leading this research initiative.

In 2018-2019, CGT worked in collaboration with the Columbia Global Centers, local universities, and youth organizations, to conduct workshops at the State University of Rio de Janeiro (Rio de Janeiro), Columbia University (New York), Brookdale Community College (New Jersey), Al Bawsala (Tunis), the State University of Jordan (Amman), and the Princess Basma Youth Resource Center (Amman). In 2019-2020, workshops are also being planned in Nairobi, Istanbul, and other locations.

The project seeks to learn how young people themselves envision their present lives, future aspirations, and prospects for their communities and the world at this time of global change. As we identify commonalities and differences among youth around the world, we aim to produce concrete proposals for both local and global approaches to the challenges confronting them and the world they will inherit.