Digital Skills | ICT4SDG | Youth
January 6, 2020

Futurecasters: Why young people need to be engaged in technology discussions

By ITU News

When he was 14, Arick Dickerman participated in his first Model United Nations (MUN).

Now a teacher at Blue Valley School in San José, Costa Rica, he coordinates the national Costa Rica MUN program with a specific focus on providing opportunities to students from underprivileged backgrounds in public schools by providing training and scholarships.

This week, he will be taking 11 students to Geneva, Switzerland for the Futurecasters: Global Young Visionaries Summit 2020, a new event hosted and co-organized by ITU and the Model UN programme of Ferney-Voltaire, France.

His students will be joined by some 700 high-school students from 23 countries worldwide who will debate how technologies can be harnessed to advance progress towards the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that they will become transformed by the experience and truly discover their potential for problem resolution just as I did many years ago when I participated in my first Model UN experience,” he said.

“It will be a good learning experience for us, to meet and foster cooperation among the youth as we promote the development of telecommunication networks and access,” said Susan Warui.

ITU News spoke to some of the teachers who are participating in the 2020 Futurecasters Summit to learn what they hope their students will take away from the event.

Engaging young people in international dialogue

There are 1.8 billion young people around the world – the largest number of 10-24 year olds in history. Futurecasters 2020 hopes to tap into the potential of the next generation of decision-makers to advance the discussion of what the future of technology means for youth and society at large.

“It will be a good learning experience for us, to meet and foster cooperation among the youth as we promote the development of telecommunication networks and access,” said Susan Warui, a teacher from Munithu Girls Secondary School in Meru, Kenya. She will be bringing eight female students to the event. “It is a great opportunity to connect with different perspectives and views and learn from them, make new friends and network.”

The Futurecasters event comes at a time when young people around the world are engaging more vocally in issues of global impact.

The UN Youth Climate Summit, held on 21 September 2019, recognized the value of youth perspectives on how to reduce carbon emissions and moving towards a more sustainable world ahead of the 2019 Global Climate Summit in New York.

In a similar way, the Futurecasters event aims to engage young people in ITU’s work and bring the voices of young people to all major of ITU’s development discussions and activities, such as environment, cybersecurity, digital skills and healthcare.

“International dialogue is an important way to bring attention and solutions to international problems,” said Brendan Patch, a teacher from Edison High School in California, USA. He will be bringing 26 students to the 2020 Futurecasters Summit. “By allowing students to engage in international dialogues, we are telling them that their opinions and voices matter, and thus, we are putting their future in their hands.”

Bringing together their unique cultural and personal perspectives and experiences, students will discuss how technology can change the world in a collaborative and global environment. Futurecasters will enable young people to apply analytical and critical thinking skills to developing real-world solutions through collaborative dialogue with their peers.

“The level of depth and consciousness that a student develops by participating in a simulated debate of this calibre in which topics are explored in-depth enables them to learn so much more than they would if they were writing an essay about this very same topic,” said Dickerman.

For many of the students, Futurecasters 2020 will be life-changing on a personal level, too.

“For most of them, it will be the first time traveling abroad as some of our students are getting a passport and on a plane for the first time,” says Dickerman. “Therefore, it will be the first time that they will truly meet and be immersed in a culture that is different from the one they’ve been used to all their life.”

*The Futurecasters Global Young Visionaries Summit will take place from 8-10 January 2020 at ITU Headquarters in Geneva. Learn more here.

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Futurecasters: Why young people need to be engaged in technology discussions

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