New IB Diploma Pathway Tackles Climate Change

The International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) is trialling a new project-based pathway with a focus on global issues for 16-19 year-olds at a sixth form college in Wales.
New IB Diploma Pathway Tackles Climate Change
By Carli Allan
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As part of its pledge to be a “a leading edge in a changing world’, the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) is piloting a new pathway for 16-19 year-olds at UWC Atlantic College.

Working in partnership with the IBO, UWC Atlantic will offer a bespoke, project-based programme focused on addressing complex systemic real-world challenges as part of its well-established International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP).

The new curriculum, called Systems Transformation Pathway: Leadership for Just Futures, will focus on tackling four global issues: Biodiversity, Energy, Food and Migration. The IBO says it will shine a light on “transformative change, systems leadership and making the world a fairer place for the future”.

The course will be taken by a global cohort of 20 students in the 2023 intake of UWC Atlantic students, and there are hopes that it can offered to all students at the school by 2027 – and ultimately to all IB schools worldwide.

Olli-Pekka Heinonen, Director General of the International Baccalaureate wants the IB to evolve and “empower the next generation of students with the confidence – and the agency – to make a significant impact on the world they are to inherit”.

He explains:

“Graduates of this new IB Diploma pathway will leave UWC Atlantic uniquely empowered. They’ll learn how to organise at scale and address systemic challenges, balancing the ‘why’ of systems thinking with the ‘now what?’ of transformative change, inspired to secure a just future for our people and planet. This collaboration between IB and UWCA is vital in paving the way for the future of the DP more generally.” 

With a reputation for its pioneering attitude to educational innovation, and its historical links to the IB, UWC Atlantic is an excellent choice for this pilot. The UWC school group was founded by one of the world's most influential educationalists, Kurt Hahn, who had previously founded Schule Schloss Salem in Germany, and Gordonstoun in Scotland. As a co-founder of the IB programme, UWC remains a strong advocate of its learning methods and practices.

Students at UWC Atlantic in Wales will focus on Biodiversity, Energy, Food and Migration as part of a pilot IBDP pathway.

The only UWC campus in the UK, UWC Atlantic is a very international boarding school with a model of "deliberate diversity" that attracts students from 90 countries each year, including refugees who receive full bursaries. Past alumni also include King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, Princess Raiyah bint Al Hussein, and Crown Princess Elisabeth of Belgium.

UWC Atlantic students will take the new Systems Transformation Pathway in place of two Standard Level subjects and will still be awarded the full IB Diploma. These students will not be assessed by traditional exams, as the focus is much more on project-based learning.

College Principal Naheed Bardai said that he wants students to have a “more forward-looking and relevant education” to equip them with skills required to tackle the world’s challenges, such as climate change.

Mr Bardai, Principal, UWC Atlantic, said: 

“If we want our students to be bridge-builders and compassionate leaders who go beyond treating symptoms to understand root causes and initiate transformative solutions to human and environmental crises, we need to rethink the fundamental premises upon which our educational systems are built.

"This bold and courageous partnership between UWC Atlantic and the IB intends to do just that.”

The IBO promises several “extraordinary changes” to the globally recognised IB qualification. It is currently piloting an online version of the two-year IBDP.

The online school King’s InterHigh is the first school in the world to offer the programme completely remotely; currently in their first year of the online programme, students study the same IB programme that is taught in a physical IB school. But, for the first time, students can take the IB without being tied to a campus.

Speaking to recently about the online IBDP, King’s InterHigh Executive Head Ashley Harrold said:

"The IB is focused on your understanding of others, of different cultures, and different mindsets; this is the core principle behind the programme. A benefit of studying the online IB is that your classmates are truly international; you are working alongside students who are living in the countries that you are studying."

"The IB is focused on international-mindedness, and we are delivering it internationally. It just makes sense.

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