Global Issues Network was born out of a combination of urgency and foresight for the sake of future generations and the health of the planet. In 2003, a group of teachers and administrators at the International School of Luxembourg were discussing the challenges facing youth today. It was at this time that these same educators had been audience to Jean-François Rischard’s recently published book, High Noon: Twenty Global Problems, Twenty Years to Solve Them (2002). Rischard’s book was a road map to solutions that underscored the urgency for immediate action. Educators found themselves looking to the energy of their students to create this change.
Mr. Rischard described imminent issues such as water shortages, climate change, infectious diseases, poverty, and illiteracy, that could only be solved through global cooperation. Mr. Rischard noted that the existing institutions charged with addressing global issues, namely appointed departments of government within nation-states and international organizations, were inadequate for the task. He found that many of the bureaucratic structures that these afore mentioned institutions relied on consequently delayed action. This delay in action only increased the negative affects of the global issues we face, making it even more difficult to find viable solutions before it is too late. In his book, High Noon, he called for “global issues networks” that would be flexible and super-responsive to an ever-changing world.
Below you will find an interview where Jean Francois Rischard tells the story of how he came to be the author of, High Noon: Twenty Global Problems, Twenty Years to Solve Them (2002).
Inspired by these ideas, the GIN founders realized that schools already worked collaboratively and might be the foundation for such a network.
2006 was a big year for GIN!
In 2006, 300 students from 28 schools had joined GIN and attended a conference in Luxembourg through the support of State Street Bank.. They met Mr. Rischard, heard inspiring young speakers like Ryan Hreljac, and learned about each other’s projects around the world. It must have been a success, because there’s been a GIN conference in Europe every year since.
At the same time regional directors in East Asia had discovered Rischard’s message and decided to dedicate themselves and their region to the Global Issues Network. This not only began yearly regional conferences of over 500 participants beginning in Beijing in 2008 but lead to local GIN conferences, as well as middle school GIN conferences in East Asia.
Influenced by the Global Issues Network, the National Association of Independent Schools launched Challenge 20/20 in 2006, an Internet-based program that pairs classes at any grade level (K-12) from schools in the U.S. with their counterpart classes in schools in other countries. Each team works to find local solutions of one of Mr. Rischard’s 20 global problems. Currently, there are over 500 participating schools.
Soon after the Middle East and Africa took up the Global Issues Network with annual regional conferences of their own!
South and Central America embraced the Global Issues Network regional GIN conference in 2011, establishing a yearly moving regional conference tradition.
In 2014 the North Americas region began working with the Global Issues Network to hold their first regional international conference!
In 2013 GIN started being accelerated and sponsored by KUMU, an innovation lab headquartered in Berkeley, California, supporting and incubating ideas that drive cultural transformation towards a thriving, just and sustainable future.
As a part of KUMU, GIN receives acceleration, training, mentorship, and benefits from an amazing network of forward thinking innovators. KUMU’s and( therefore GIN’s) fiscal sponsor and Innovation Partner is the Buckminster Fuller Institute.
Since this small grass roots beginning, the Global Issues Network has grown rapidly to include students from more than 500 schools across Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, South and Central America.
GIN has an active body of alumni in universities and beyond.