Opening the World Through Education, with Dana Lynn Mortenson and Kate Berseth

Episode 363:

Dana is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of World Savvy, a national education nonprofit working to educate and engage youth as responsible global citizens. World Savvy supports change agents in K-12 education to create more inclusive, adaptive schools that ensure all young people can develop the skills and dispositions needed to thrive in a more diverse, interconnected world. World Savvy programs provide support at three critical levels to deeply integrate global competence into teaching, learning, and culture: student engagement, teacher capacity, and school and district leadership support. Since 2002, she has led the organization through significant national expansion, reaching over 800,000 students and nearly 7,000 teachers across 45 US states and 32 countries from offices in Minneapolis, San Francisco, and New York.

Dana is an Ashoka Fellow and was named one of The New Leaders Council’s 40 under 40 Progressive American Leaders and Women We Admire’s Top 50 Women Leaders of Minnesota for 2022. She also won the Tides Foundations Jane Bagley Lehman Award for excellence in public advocacy in 2014. She is a frequent speaker on global education and social entrepreneurship at high-profile convenings nationally and internationally, and World Savvy’s work has been featured on PBS, The New York Times, Edutopia, and a range of local and national media outlets covering education and innovation.

Kate Berseth is the Executive Vice President North America for EF Education First. As EVP, Kate oversees product innovation and strategic partnership development for EF’s educational travel products. As EF’s futurist-in-residence, Kate is primarily responsible for understanding evolutionary and revolutionary trends in the education space and making recommendations for how EF should adjust its operation to respond to these trends while bringing continual improvement to its product offerings. She also identifies, establishes, and maintains EF’s strategic relationships with a variety of stakeholders in the education, travel, and corporate landscapes.

Prior to joining EF in 2000, Kate worked in fundraising, and nonprofit and political consulting. She served in a variety of capacities for several national political campaigns before co-founding ROI Solutions, a database management services provider for progressive nonprofit organizations. During her time at EF, Kate has been instrumental in securing accreditations from the country’s most prestigious academic organizations, making EF the first fully accredited educational travel company in the United States. She has also managed the recent launches of two marquee projects for EF—the Global Student Leaders Summit series, which offers students and teachers experiential travel opportunities focused on 21st-century skills development, as well as weShare, an online learning tool that complements that student travel experience.”

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Kate and Dana to explore the transformative power of travel in shaping global perspectives and promoting global citizenship. Join us as Dana and Kate share their insights on K-12 educational travel experiences, and the impactful work being done in the travel and education industry. Find out more about how EF Tours is creating hands-on learning opportunities for students, and how World Savvy is embedding global competence in K-12 education.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • How EF Tours’ approach to educational travel has helped young people to foster global competence and cultural understanding
  • Why the collaboration between World Savvy and EF Tours helps students to develop 21st-century skills and global perspectives
  • Moments when educational travel experiences have led to a tangible impact within local communities, at home and abroad?
  • How travel experiences help build soft skills
  • How schools can integrate educational travel experiences into their curriculum and institutional programs to create a lasting and impactful learning environment for students

The Importance of Hands-On Learning

Dana and Kate discuss the significant role that educational travel plays in expanding students’ perspectives. Through immersive experiences in different countries and cultures, students gain a deeper understanding of the world around them. By stepping outside of their local environments, students are exposed to new ways of thinking, problem-solving, and adapting to unfamiliar situations. This hands-on learning approach broadens their worldview and equips them with essential skills for navigating an increasingly interconnected global society.

Building 21st-Century Skills

Our conversation highlights the evolution of global competence in K-12 education, with a focus on equipping students with the necessary skills and knowledge to thrive in a globalized world. Dana discusses World Savvy’s dedication to promoting global competence through engaging students, training teachers, and working with school leadership to integrate global citizenship into the learning experience. This emphasis on 21st-century skills, such as critical thinking, communication, and cultural proficiency, is essential for preparing students to become global citizens and empathetic leaders in their future endeavors.

Creating Meaningful Partnerships

Kate gives her insights into EF Tours’ mission to open the world through education by offering transformative travel experiences for students. EF’s collaboration with educational leaders like Dana emphasizes the importance of creating institutional programs in schools that go beyond traditional trips and become an integral part of the curriculum.

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