Article Highlights

  • Large scale problems need to be broken down into bite-sized chunks.
  • Students need easy entry points to global change-making.
  • Competitions like the World of 7 Billion provide a great starting point for students.
  • 3 simple steps can get your students involved.

At one point or another, every student has dreamed of saving the world. They still have the exuberance of youth and the spark to go head-long into the unknown. They see challenges in their schools, communities, or watch videos on Youtube of environmental catastrophes across the globe, and they want to do something about it. Thousands of students have these feelings every year and yet global challenges persist. Why? Well, because global change is hard. And many of the young enthusiastic change-makers get disillusioned by the sheer magnitude of our challenges. They simply decide that they want to take on something a little easier.

One thing we know from competition sciences is that when people are faced with extremely complex or difficult challenges, more often than not, they give up or choose to not even take on the challenge. They choose to spend their time on something that is a little more “winnable.” So what does this mean for the future of such large complex challenges as environmental or social change? First is that it's critical to break them down into manageable parts. For students just getting introduced to the ideas of global change-making, it is most important to give them a place to start that doesn’t ask them to tackle a whole global challenge on their own from the get-go.


Start small and grow.

Asking students to take on projects that tackle large-scale global challenges as their first entry into global change-making may be daunting for many students, and may actually have the opposite effect as environmentally minded educators would like. For teachers it can be very difficult to help students get excited about global change making without getting disillusioned by the size of the problems or the amount of work there is to do.

World of 7 Billion Competitionthis featured challenge in the ICS environmental competitions database helps students take the first steps into global change-making by researching challenges associated with global population change, and creating a video describing their solution to the problem. Check it out today.


So what’s an educator to do? The key is to start simply. Don’t try to change the world all at once. Luckily, there are levels of competitions in the global change-making space that are good for students who are just getting introduced to this kind of thinking. Whatever age your students are, it may be best to start them with what we call “ideation” or “creative” contests rather than diving head first into outcome-based challenges where they are evaluated on tangible impact. The World of 7 Billion student video contest offers just such a starting point. This contest allows educators to help students get interested in environmental sustainability, and change-making content, without being overwhelming and asking too much of students at the start.


A Step-By-Step Entry into Global Change-Making.

The World of 7 Billion contest provides an easy but valuable entry way into global change-making for your students. We can make it even easier to get started by breaking the contest down into three simple steps (or concrete classroom projects) to help students begin their journey in global change-making. Here’s a simple process to use with the World of 7 Billion, or many other introductory style change-making competitions, to help get your students get going:

  1. Part 1: Research the Problems & Needs (1 Classroom period or a take-away home project).

The first step for World of 7 Billion, and many other competitions is to help your students understand the problem. Conducting a research project or lesson in the classroom can be a great initial touch-point for students on the ideas of global change-making. The World of 7 Billion actually provides a number of great classroom ready lesson plans and activities to help with this initial step. Make sure to check them out. Then, after students have conducted research and learned about the global problems, they can take the next steps toward actually understanding the solutions.

  1. Part 2: Identify what is being done and why (1 classroom period or a take-away home project).

To really understand how to create global change, students must also first understand what has been or is being tried to help solve the problem. Global challenges are not new, and many people have tried many things to combat these challenges. Have your students take their initial research projects one step further by researching specific projects or solutions that have already been tried. Ask your students to identify positive or successful aspects of each solution as well as negative aspects that may have limited its impact or caused it to fail all together. This will help students gain a stronger understanding of the challenge at large as well as giving them better ideas for how they might help create real change in the future.

  1. Part 3: Finally, get creative! (1 to 2 classroom periods or home-projects).

Students love to create things. The final step to introducing your students to global change making is to have them propose their own solutions to specific parts of the challenge in a fun creative medium. The World of 7 Billion contest does this by having students create short videos describing their solutions to one of the global challenge topics. Defining their solution through a fun project like this helps solidify a student’s interest in the topic and show them that there are real, actionable things that they can do in these areas.

Competitions like the World of 7 Billion video contest are sure to help provide an easier first touch to global change-making that may be a critical piece to helping your students actually take action. There’s still time to get involved for the 2018 competition. Video submissions aren’t due until February 22nd. So check out the World of 7 Billion topics and website resources now to get your students taking their first step in saving the world!

Article Highlights

  • Millennials have proven to be a very socially engaged generation, but continued support from younger generations is needed.
  • Video creation has been shown to be a great learning tool that can also inspire action in young change-makers.
  • The World of 7 Billion contest provides a unique opportunity for middle and high school educators to connect students with global change on a level they can easily internalize.

It seems like we’ve been trying to tackle pollution, hunger, women’s rights, and other global challenges, for … well, forever. And unfortunately, it seems like the solution is always just beyond our reach. These challenges are so complex and have such a wide ranging set of variables that it is impossible to say that there is one solution. There is no smoking gun where, if only we did X, we would solve world hunger, or we would end pollution, or equalize the rights of all people. Global change happens through the combination of many local and regional changes that percolate into our systems, societies, and economies leading to global trends that move the needle. However, getting students to realize this without being overwhelmed by the challenges ahead can be difficult.

Over the past decade, we’ve seen the Millennial generation grow into its own, entering the workforce and creating new social enterprises to help tackle these global challenges. We were introduced to Millennial change-makers such as Boyan Slat, the 23 year old Founder of The Ocean Cleanup, and Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani activist leading global change in women’s rights through, and other Millennials who have taken the plunge into instigating social change. However, these complex challenges will not be solved by just a few leaders. Solutions require masses of new change-makers to build upon what has come before.

The Case Foundation’s 2016 Millennial Impact Report noted that, “Millennials are looking to effect change and make a difference through individualistic and personally gratifying action.” They act locally, as everyday change-makers. With the rise of the Millennial generation and the success of these young heroes, educators all over the world are starting to see that they can actually inspire students to take action and become mentors to a generation of global change-makers.

Of course, it’s not easy to showcase how students can actually have an impact on such complex, global challenges. For many educators, inspiring action in these areas can seem daunting, especially to students who have as of yet had little to no experience fighting for social change. Sometimes the tasks simply seem too complex to even understand where to start.

So what are educators to do if they want to help inspire their students to become the next global change makers?

One proven way to inspire action is through video – not just watching video about global change – but creating videos where students can use multiple skills to internalize the content. In 2014, Dr. Peter Willmot and his colleagues at Loughborough University and Sheffield Hallam University in the United Kingdom demonstrated that, “there is strong evidence that digital video reporting can inspire and engage students when incorporated into student-centered learning activities.”

Dr. Willmot and his colleagues found that when students create their own videos, they are effectively combining the learning-through-teaching principle with a number of other skills that help to build deep, intrinsic connections to the content and internalize their own learning. In one study, conducted at Loughborough University, Dr. Willmot, found that 3 out of 4 students said they enjoyed a learning activity using video creation as its primary learning tool. While this research does not compare these student responses to those of other learning tools, it does show that video development can be a significant way to engage students. 

The World of 7 Billion student video contest provides a unique opportunity for educators to put this research to practice and use video creation to not only educate students on global issues, but inspire them into action. The academic contest will not only help your students learn about global challenges, but it will also engage them in conceptualizing actionable solutions of their own.

In the World of 7 Billion contest, students create their own 60 second video connecting population pressures with one of three global challenges: advancing women and girls, feeding 10 billion, or preventing pollution. Students must also include their own concept on how we can move forward with solving the challenge, and showcase this to the world through their video.


The majority of last year’s student participants said they actually wanted to expand upon their video projects and work on helping to implement a solution!

Students throughout the world are eligible for awards, but more so than just winning prizes, they are included into a global community of young change-makers. Go beyond the traditional research project and encourage deeper learning for your students. Video submissions for the 2018 contest are due in February, but accepting on a rolling basis. So now is the time to start thinking about projects, and getting your students ready to go!

Check out all of the details at World of 7 Billion.