Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

DU huddles high school students to solve world’s pressing problems

If President Barack Obama’s foreign policy hits any snags, he might consider a visit to the University of Denver for advice.

That’s where nearly 300 high school students will gather March 7 to compete in solving some of the world’s most pressing problems (the global economy, alternative energy, human migration and human rights, to name a few) as part of the school’s World Affairs Challenge.

Students will begin by deciding which areas they want to tackle — then they’ll develop ideas and presentations for judges.

“We want students to walk away with a better understanding of the world and their role,” says Jim Kidder, director of the Center for Teaching International Relations (CTIR), the organization at DU that hosts the annual event. “I think they realize we don’t need to just wait for the United Nations or governments to resolve the issues.”

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper will open the event with a lecture about the importance of international education.

About 200 middle school students gathered Feb. 28 as part of the same competition. Erik Peterson, director of the Global Strategy Institute, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., that shares policy solutions with decision makers, spoke to the middle school competitors about future global trends.

Kidder adds that several DU students, primarily from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, volunteer as mentors during the competitions. “Some of the DU students who’ve traveled abroad help paint a picture for some of the secondary students who’ve not been outside of the United States,” he says.

Steve Werner, a Denver-based management consultant and CTIR chair, says he’s volunteered for the World Affairs Challenge for 15 years because it helps teach kids and teachers to appreciate other cultures. “Everyone agrees our world is getting smaller and that world events far away impact our lives every day in some form or fashion,” Werner says.

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