Penn State student organizes Global Youth Summit

Matthew Long
October 27, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- On Oct. 3 and 4, Madison Mitchell, an intern at the Sustainability Institute (SI) at Penn State majoring in recreation, park and tourism management, coordinated a Global Youth Summit for the Club of Rome for approximately 250 youth participants from more than 75 countries.

The Club of Rome, a prestigious nongovernmental international impact organization, hosted the virtual events to provide a space for youth from around the world to build relationships and have discussions on the club’s sustainability-related impact hubs. These impact hubs — consisting of Climate-Planetary Emergency, Emerging New Civilization, Reframing Economics and Rethinking Finance — are designed to link back to a greater conversation about sustainability on a local, national and global scale.

“Young people are not a homogenous group,” said Mitchell. “Their perspectives and lived experiences differ across cultures, religions, geographic regions and ethnicities, yet are all connected by their age and the need for collective action to ensure a prosperous future.”

The Club of Rome has held youth summits in years prior; however, this was its first virtual summit, consisting of three different sessions each drawing participants from similar time zones. Ten youth moderators trained to facilitate conversations on each impact hub hosted each of the sessions. 

Jatin Tripathi, a first year civil engineering student at the Institute of Engineering Technology in Lucknow, India, said, “Being a part of the summit made me realize the value of initiative, and how important it is to create a dialogue. It literally flooded our minds with all the possible ways in which we can leave a sustainable and beautiful future for our generations to come.”

Following the summit, on Oct. 8 Mitchell provided an opportunity for the youth moderators to speak with Club of Rome members and express the concerns that came up during the conversations they had had with their peers at the summit. 

Mitchell said, “We wanted to narrow the playing field and be able to really empower a select group of youth to share their thoughts and share what they were hearing from the days prior.”

Mitchell organized this series of events for several months alongside Doug Goodstein, associate director for student engagement at the SI. Together, Mitchell and Goodstein reached out to higher education institutions and communities around the world to find diverse perspectives on the realm of sustainability.

Goodstein and Mitchell were approached by Paul Shrivastava, director of the SI and Penn State’s chief sustainability officer, who has been a Club of Rome member since he was inducted in 2018. Shrivastava saw this year as an opportunity to bring back a youth summit for the club, as Zoom has the capability of connecting people across the globe in a single instance.

“Zoom and other platforms like it have changed the way in which we conduct business and communicate on a global scale,” said Shrivastava. “These networks give us the ability to promote international collaboration, allowing for individuals who otherwise would have likely not met to discuss pressing world issues and this summit was a perfect example of that.”

From now through April 2021, Mitchell will facilitate a series of virtual youth training sessions that will educate the youth cohort who attended the summit on how to voice their concerns and aspirations about the future. In October 2021, the session information will be curated into a Global Youth Report and given to the Club of Rome during its annual fall meeting.

The Club of Rome is a network of 100 academics, scientists, business leaders, politicians and economists who work together to address and develop solutions to global crises. The organization publishes peer reviewed publications, called “Reports to the Club of Rome,” focusing on how society will be foundationally changed by current or future global threats.

Last Updated November 02, 2020