Building Community for the Future
Isabel Guerrero, Executive Director

For the past 5 years, I have been teaching a class on Scaling up for Development Impact.  My students are in their late 20’s and early 30’s, from many countries, and come to the Kennedy School because they want to change the world. Through their lives I get a glimpse into the world of the future. It was devastating to witness together the recent trends in politics and what it means to the values we share. Through the increasing visa restrictions we saw how the international dynamics were playing into students every day lives. I feel my students are a microcosm of the emerging future.

This year it is clear that these students are better prepared than ever to take on the huge transformation task that lies ahead for us in the world. This is a very diverse group, with impressive backgrounds and deep experience and with a sense of community with each other. They have strong values that are the basis for their hard work and their openness to learn. Through their papers, class comments and group work I could see how well prepared they are to handle the huge challenges that they will face as they enter the world of work.

This will be a world so different to the one we went into after school. The old is crumbling under the pressure of fast paced technological change.  Large institutions and traditional power can’t keep up and adapt to remain relevant in a digital world.

This is technological change is at the heart of inequality. The old world needs to crumble,  and whether we end up in a better place depends on the new generation.

Authoritarian governments and nationalistic regressions have been the first reaction to keep the old from crumbling. Not only in the US, but it is happening across the world. The losses already experienced and the fear of loosing more is making many people want to go back to the past. But this is not possible anymore: the future has arrived and is emerging. My students are just a microcosm of that reality.

They have amazing education and tools that we didn’t have. They have work experience that we didn’t have. And they are not afraid to take risks in order to make their dreams come true. They dream big, they dream global. And they are a color-full, diverse community that doesn’t accept the unequal world we live in. That community is the antidote to the fear and the fragmentation we see today. Together they are stronger than any one authoritarian defender of the old order.