A NEW AGE HAS DAWNED: OUR YOUNG PEOPLE NEED TO BE CHANGEMAKERS

This article originally appeared on Newsweek.

The erosion of civic engagement and civic institutions was a consistent concern in 2017, and some now predict dire consequences in 2018.

Deep changes in civic life are clearly underway, but aren’t necessarily dystopian.

In fact, they hold great promise, provided we prepare our young people for what’s coming.

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Ashoka Insight

At the recent inaugural summit of his new foundation, Barack Obama warned, “Something [is] wrong with the civic culture, not just in the United States but around the world.” This inward turning and civic disengagement long predate the 2016 election. 

But it also heralds the rise of radical individual agency and the democratization of leadership, where everyone can potentially make and lead change.

I call this “the changemaker effect,” and it may be the biggest force shaping our civic and working lives. Continuous, generalized disruption increasingly affects us all. Conversely, we are all part of these forces of change, and collectively we have the potential and the obligation to harness them for good.

Equipping young people to survive and thrive in the firehose of technology-driven social change will require a social technology. It must do for our schools, institutions, policy and parenting what digital technology is doing for our economies – orient them toward dynamic, disruptive change.

That social technology exists. It can be gleaned from the experiences of leading social entrepreneurs like those in the Ashoka network. They powerfully contribute to social good and confidently command the changemaker landscape. Their defining qualities can be the foundation of a new developmental framework.

The biggest divide we face is not Right vs. Left or rich vs. poor; it’s the emerging divide between the few who have the skills to play the new game, vs. the many who don’t. Change that equation, equip young people for the new era of changemaking now dawning, and there’s no end to what we can build together.