July 30, 2013 — I recently attended a wedding of two friends at the Norwegian Seamen’s church in San Francisco. During the ceremony, the priest paused to reflect on the improbability of the circumstances that brought us together: What were the odds, he asked, of a Norwegian woman falling in love with a Scotsman and traveling to the other side of the world to marry, bringing together friends and family from three nations? Improbable, and yet there we were.
But perhaps even more unlikely were our surroundings: a church decorated with silver vessels and iron candelabra mined and manufactured thousands of miles away; gowns and suits made of synthetics and natural fibers sewn in Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe; drinks from Vietnam and South Africa; smartphones snapping pictures of the ceremony and immediately sharing the images with family and friends across the globe. The accessibility of all things from all places — that was what was most improbable.
Humanity is growing increasingly connected, with each local choice having a distinct footprint that reverberates across the planet. We recognize this trend, and we live it — but are we preparing the next generation for the world toward which it’s leading us?
My newly married friends may someday have children, and those children will grow up in a continually changing, increasingly globalized world drastically different from the world in which any of us were raised. What are the new challenges they will need to overcome to care for this planet? What are the questions they will need to ask and answer? And how can we prepare them to do so? I would like to propose 10 things students of today and tomorrow should learn to be equipped to take care of the world they will live in as adults.