The future of work, education and AI

How artificial intelligence is changing the cultural landscape 

Last month, World Savvy hosted a panel on the future of work and schools was held at The Machine Shop in Northeast Minneapolis that touched on AI, and its long-term impact on the economy and different job sectors. Read more about the panelist discussion on the future of work, education and AI.

Comprised of three experts—Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman, U.S. State Department Senior Advisor Hamse Warfa, and World Savvy CEO Dana Mortenson, the panel was moderated by William Guadelli, dean of the College of Education at Lehigh University. Several hundred people, including a group of middle school students from Ella Baker Global Studies and Humanities Magnet School, educators, and businesspeople attended this event. In addition to AI, the discussion covered several work and education-related topics, including globalization and what educators can do to best prepare students for the future. 

Friedman calls the current state of AI a “Promethean moment,” referring to the Greek myth in which Prometheus steals the fire from the gods on Mt. Olympus and gives it to humanity to build civilization. 

He also likened it to the invention of the printing press but noted that the printing press took centuries to scale and that there could be unintentional damage done by the much faster speed at which AI technology is advancing. 

Friedman believes the three things that will be most important for students and workers to successfully utilize AI will be self-motivation, access to technologies, and personal character.

Warfa added that he believed empathy and an inclusive society would also be needed to fully utilize coming technological advancement. 

He hopes that the education system will be built to see and hear every student, regardless of background, and believes empathy will be required not only for the future of work but the future of building democracies and communities.

Despite the risks, however, AI technology such as ChatGPT could be a valuable tool in education.

“The reality is that inside schools you can lean into technology like generative AI to free up space to spend more time on the things that make us more uniquely human,” Mortenson said.

“Things that technology can’t do, enable empathy, collaboration, cross-cultural communication, and group work.” 

She believes diversification of the education system is important, pointing out that more than 50 percent of students are now BIPOC, but that teachers are still predominantly White and monolingual. Although she is confident that AI will not be able to replace teachers, she believes that it will be useful for tutoring students and assisting in the education process. 

Mortenson discussed the importance of an education that prepares students for a future in which she says, “85 percent of the jobs that will exist when [current students] go out into the world don’t exist today.” She also said it was important to be able to consider programs that can meet diverse needs of students of different backgrounds, noting that both rural and urban classrooms in Minnesota have undergone large demographic shifts in the past couple of decades.

Ella Baker students asked about the disruption to education caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and questioned what can be done to catch up on the education of any students whose learning was affected by the pandemic.

Mortenson responded on behalf of the panel and was optimistic, saying that the educational disruption caused by COVID could be an opportunity to improve the education system for the future by, “leveraging technologies to meet students where they are.” 

Mortenson mentioned programs at Ella Baker, such as the community ambassadors’ program, as an example of a model that could be used to build empathy and collaboration in the learning environment.

World Savvy is an organization that partners with schools to reimagine education and create more inclusive, student-centered, and future-ready learning communities. We are continuing to expand our work across the country. Connect us with a school or learn more about our school partnership opportunities.

Looking globally: World Savvy and Lakes Country Service Cooperative

On April 13th, 2023, World Savvy and Lakes Country Service Cooperative (LCSC) brought together students and teachers from west-central Minnesota for a day of exploration and solution-seeking. Over 60 students were in attendance exploring the student-selected theme, “Promoting well-being for all at all ages.”

The day-long event was sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota. Using World Savvy’s Knowledge to Action (K2A) framework, youth learned from local experts and each other as they planned a co-creative response to a pressing local issue. Read more about how their day of thinking outside the box was explored.

“The goal is for the students to explore something that interests them and to learn how to think completely about something … when you are curious, what does it look like to understand it,” mentioned KK Neimann, the director of professional learning for World Savvy. “How can we help them feel like what they are learning is relevant and to empower them to not feel overwhelmed with what is going on across the globe.”

World Savvy’s community-based Changemaker Hubs are designed to:

  • Help young people make connections between pressing global challenges and their local community.
  • Provide a forum for youth to share their perspectives about community needs and solutions.
  • Build the skills, capacity, and networks required to take informed action on issues of consequence.

Leveraging World Savvy’s Knowledge to Action (K2A) framework, youth-led design challenges bring students together to create ideas for action in their local community. These steps help students identify an issue they care about, build their knowledge and understanding of the complexity of the problem they are hoping to solve, and support the creation of informed solutions designed to tackle the issue’s root causes. Design challenges conclude with an opportunity for students to share their ideas with a broader community.

We are continuing to expand our work across the country. Connect us with a school or learn more about our school partnership opportunities.

World Savvy featured live on CBS news mid-morning show

World Savvy’s CEO and Co-Founder Dana Mortenson spoke with CBS news anchors Heather Brown and A.J. Hilton at WCCO-TV in Minnesota about our partnerships with educators and school leaders to create more inclusive, adaptive, and future-ready schools. Hear what Dana said about the skills necessary for students to thrive in the workforce and a rapidly changing world.  

Growing up in the K-12 education system and pursuing graduate school, Dana met Madiha Murshed, co-founder of World Savvy. They realized the differences in how students learned about the world, how they interacted with it, and how to view oneself as a changemaker of the world. Dana then asked herself, “how must K-12 education change and evolve to prepare young people to know more, care more, and do more for their communities and the world?” This question led to World Savvy’s partnering with educators and community leaders to help teach students how to be responsible global citizens.

“The skills and dispositions that allow you to navigate complexities, rapid change, diversity, and an interconnected world … things like empathy, complex and collaborative problem solving, the ability to distill multiple perspectives and apply them into decision making and solution seeking, exploring things based on evidence to make decisions, humility, and cross-cultural communication. These are all things that are not only required in our own communities and backyard to approach civic issues, but are really necessary in the workforce that are increasingly less about technical skills and more about the kinds of competencies that let you navigate change.”

We are continuing to expand our work across the country. Connect us with a school or learn more about our school partnership opportunities.

World Savvy featured as Premier Partner of GLOW Conference; Dana Mortenson to deliver keynote address.

Actionable Innovations Global is hosting the first-ever digital Global Learning for an Open World (GLOW) Conference on November 18th – 19th, 2022. Actionable Innovations Global is a professional learning community for those interested in global education and innovation. World Savvy is thrilled to be featured as the premier partner, in addition to joining the tremendous list of keynote and featured speakers.

The GLOW Conference will create a dedicated space for global educators to connect and ideate around global competency. GLOW will offer 30 hours of uninterrupted digital content from education experts around the world. Sessions will range from keynote speeches to interactive workshops, and live interviews. All content is free to view worldwide.

To register for the event, learn more about featured speakers, and view complete schedules, visit the GLOW Conference website: https://hopin.com/events/the-glow-conference/registration

Don’t Miss World Savvy’s Featured Speakers:

Friday, November 18th:

Dana Mortenson
Global Competency for a Changing World  |  9:00 – 9:50 am CT

  • Dana Mortenson, co-founder of World Savvy, will explore how the larger ‘global education’ movement needs to evolve to support an inclusive framework all schools can use to create future-ready education. With significant political division and polarization in communities across the U.S. and K–12 schools often the arena where these battles play out, it has never been more urgent to embed global competency into teaching, learning, and culture in systemic ways—for civic engagement, workforce readiness, and global problem-solving. This keynote will explore this new landscape, describe promising innovative approaches that are propelling this movement forward, and outline how we can leverage the current legislative environment as a tipping point for this important work.

Molly Dengler, World Savvy Professional Learning Facilitator
Deep Inquiry for Global Competence  |  4:00 – 4:50 pm CT

  • How does inquiry support global competence development for our students and ourselves? In a world where we are inundated with information and misinformation every minute of every day, it has never been more important for young people to be curious, critical thinkers. This session will explore what actions educators can take to successfully use case studies to cultivate curiosity and build the essential skills students need to thrive in a global community.

Saturday, November 19th:

Whitney McKinley, World Savvy Lead Professional Learning Facilitator, and KK Neimann, World Savvy Director of Professional Learning
Centering Global Competence in the Classroom: Beyond Theory and into Practice  |  11:00 – 11:50 am CT

  • In this session, we will hear from teachers who have shifted their practice to center the development of global competence in their students. In a moderated discussion, these educators will share what works, what hasn’t, and what keeps them committed to this work. This action-oriented session will focus on the fundamental shifts and changes that teacher practitioners have engaged with when ensuring that global competence is at the center of learning and teaching.

Dana Mortenson, Cindy Derrane, and Margo Fraczek
Educator Insight: Building Student-Centered Classrooms that Develop Global Competency  |  12:00 – 12:50 pm CT

  • Join veteran World Savvy educators and school leaders as they share perspectives on cultivating student-centered, inclusive, equitable learning environments that develop global competency. Using World Savvy’s frameworks for inquiry and knowledge-to-action, these educators have embedded global competence deeply into their teaching and leadership. They will share how a student-centered approach to global competencies changes outcomes for students and the entire school community.

World Savvy Named One of the Top Education Innovators Worldwide

World Savvy is thrilled to announce that we have been selected as one of the top innovations in the world in the 2023 HundrED Global Collection. HundrED is a Finland-based, not-for-profit that discovers, researches, and shares inspiring innovations in K-12 education. 

Out of 3,488 worldwide innovations reviewed, World Savvy was among the 100 innovations from 54 countries selected, and only one of nine U.S.-based organizations. An academy consisting of 188 experts in education from over 113 countries reviewed the innovations.

“Innovations highlighted by HundrED are truly moving the needle in education reform around the world. Meeting the needs of students, parents, teachers, and communities, the innovations found in HundrED’s database are a go-to resource for anyone looking to catch a glimpse of the wealth of possibility in education innovation and transformation,” said Mike Dunn, Director of College Counseling, U.S.A. and member of the HundrED Academy Board.

The common threads across the selected 100 top innovations were:

  1. A focus on teachers as the heart of education transformation and innovation.
  2. 21st Century Skill development also called “life skills” or “soft skills,” which includes developing competencies through social and emotional learning, global citizenship, and entrepreneurship with a common focus on critical thinking and collaborative learning. 
  3. Student well-being and mental health including the cognitive, psychological, physical, and social aspects that drive educational outcomes. 
  4. Student agency and putting the student at the center of the educational experience to drive their own learning, develop their voice, and make choices about their educational experience. Agency is closely connected to student motivation, well-being, and a sense of meaning and purpose. 
  5. Centering equity including diversity, gender equality, special needs education, inclusion, access, and human rights.

“We are thrilled to be recognized among so many other innovative organizations and to have the opportunity to share our work to build more inclusive, equitable, and future-ready K-12 learning environments with a global audience,” says World Savvy CEO and Co-Founder Dana Mortenson. “It is a credit to our talented team and amazing network of school partners and leaders.”

A review from the HundrED Academy included, “World Savvy has key principles of universal interest in a learning ecosystem that makes its spread and adaptability. It provides a tool that helps learners connect, share and collaborate joining efforts to solve global problems.” 


The complete HundrED report can be accessed here. For more information about World Savvy’s Comprehensive School Partnerships go to worldsavvy.org/our-programs/schools.

World Savvy article, “Soft Skills are NOT Soft” published in education magazine

World Savvy was recently published in the most recent issue of Childhood Education Innovations. The article, Soft Skills Are NOT Soft: Redefining Essential Skills for a Future-Ready Classroom points to the importance of an increasingly essential set of skills the current and future workforce must have to be successful in their careers and arguably life.

The article sites The Wall Street Journal‘s 2015 survey of nearly 900 executives: “92% said soft skills were equally important or more important than technical skills. Of particular note, 89% said they have a very or somewhat difficult time finding people with those requisite attributes.”

However, our current education system was designed to prepare students for careers of the Industrial Era. The world is rapidly changing; many of the jobs that our students will hold in the future have not yet been invented yet. Educators’ work can no longer be focused on delivering information, but rather on preparing students with the skills to successfully navigate and process this information.

“It is important for educators to teach their students to be not only critical thinkers, but also adaptable, resilient, and creative,” the article states. “For too long, skills such as empathy, creativity, and collaboration have been happy accidents in classrooms—byproducts of teachable moments that occurred during the delivery of content. It is time to center these skills with intention and urgency so that all young people have what they need to navigate a complex and interconnected world.”

As Dana Mortenson, World Savvy CEO and Co-founder, has said, “The focus here is not on content knowledge or test scores alone, but on the dispositions and skills that the future world will demand of us all, such as adaptability amidst significant change, cross-cultural communication, and collaboration, critical thinking about complex issues, perspective-taking, and empathy.”

The article goes on to highlight the work World Savvy did with a partner school during the 2021-2022 school year amidst a teacher strike. “To support all members of the community as they worked to understand these events, World Savvy created resources that were designed to draw on the essential skills we had been honing with teachers and students all year. Students used bingo cards that encouraged conversations with multiple stakeholders to ensure they were seeing this issue from multiple perspectives. As the strike ended and students returned to school, teachers implemented activities to rebuild community and create space to allow everyone to process their emotions. World Savvy schools used case studies organized by grade band, featuring extensive background information as well as resources and frameworks for analyzing conflict, building peace, and leading during complex times.”

World Savvy’s Comprehensive School Partnerships are designed to help schools make learning more relevant, inclusive and future-focused with a focus on embedding global competence – the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to navigate and succeed in today’s interconnected world. 

Childhood Education Innovations is a magazine-format publication that shares innovative ideas and practices for improving the education of children globally. The magazine is published for a global audience of educators and advocates working to create positive, sustainable futures for children and youth, with particular focus on improving education access and quality for marginalized populations. 

Dana Mortenson recognized as one of Minnesota’s “Rising Stars”

VoyageMinnesota has named World Savvy’s CEO and Co-founder Dana Mortenson a “Rising Star.” Dana was interviewed about her work with World Savvy – a national K-12 nonprofit organization – and the path she took with fellow co-founder Madiha Murshed to help change the world in light of the xenophobic backlash following 9/11. “We knew this targeting was a product of fear and, to some degree, a lack of knowledge and understanding about the world,” Dana recalled. In 2002, World Savvy was born with the intention of partnering with schools to transform learning environments into inclusive, adaptive, and future-ready schools in a fast-changing and increasingly diverse world.

When asked about some of the recent challenges she’s faced Dana responded, “Education has become more politicized in this polarized culture, with efforts like anti-CRT and banned books on the rise. There is a larger and more vocal group of school leaders, educators, and community members who understand the critical nature of this work to sustain our democracy. This is different from years past and has propelled the work forward profoundly.”

When asked about lessons learned in this work, Dana responded, “We’ve learned that there is no quick-fix in education, no one-size-fits-all solution you can rapidly scale, and no single program that changes things overnight. It is complex, messy, and takes time, resources, and intention.” She added, “We have learned that models providing holistic, well-rounded, and comprehensive support — frameworks for learning that are pendulum-proof — are the best opportunity for creating and sustaining change.”

Read Dana Mortenson’s full interview on the VoyageMinnesota website.

VoyageMinnesota is a magazine with a mission to promote mom and pops, artists, creatives, makers and small businesses by providing a platform for these hidden gems to tell their stories in their own words.

World Savvy featured on Silver Lining for Learning Podcast

World Savvy was honored to be featured on the Silver Lining for Learning podcast. The podcast is hosted by Chris Dede, Curt Bonk, Punya Mishra & Yong Zha and focuses on the future of learning with educators and education leaders from across the globe.

Our very own CEO and Co-founder Dana Mortenson and Director of Professional Learning KK Neimann were featured along with partner educators Anna Lehn and Cindy Derrane in Episode 103: Don’t Just be Savvy, be World Savvy!

“The most profound impact of World Savvy’s programs is evidenced by educator and student engagement – our programs make teaching and learning real, experiential, and relevant for a changing world. As a result, students acquire the kind of knowledge, skills, and dispositions that not only prepare them for college, career, and life in a global society, but help them identify as global citizens who are motivated to contribute to peace, justice, and sustainability for our world,” said Dana Mortenson.

Guests included:

Dana Mortenson, World Savvy’s Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer

KK Neimann, World Savvy’s Director of Professional Learning

Anna Lehn, a World Savvy partner and 8th grade teacher at Ella Baker Global Studies and Humanities Magnet within the Minneapolis Public School District in Minnesota

Cindy Derrane, a World Savvy partner, Assistant Principal and Co-Coordinator of the Global Citizenship Program of Norwood High School in Norwood, MA

Wicked Local Norwood featured World Savvy partnership with Norwood Public Schools

We are excited about our new partnership with Norwood Public School District in Massachusetts to implement inquiry-based learning and global competence education throughout the district! You can learn more about this new collaboration, and hear from administrators Margo Fraczek and Cindy Derrane, in the Wicked Local Norwood!

“I hope this helps increase our student engagement. I hope kids find their passion. I hope they start to see the real-world connections with what they learn every day and the world beyond.”

The Examiner featured Byram Hills Students’ Project on the 2020 Census

Students from Byram Hills High School’s Global Scholars Program were recently highlighted for their project on the 2020 Census (video below). Byram Hills High School is a World Savvy partner school and we have worked with their program over the last few years, and we’re excited about the impactful work that the students are doing. Read the article here.