Global Co Lab Network: Your Students and Sustainability

Introduction: NCSS member Linda Staheli is a citizen activist who’s created online activities for youth on issues of sustainability, innovation, and international cooperation. TSSP interviewed Linda to introduce our readers (and their students) to what’s happening in these energetic, virtual spaces that she’s created.

Question 1: Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up and go to school and college?

Answer: I grew up in Seattle, Washington, and went to the University of Washington, studying international studies. I’ve been lucky to have parents who taught me to care about the world and encouraged traveling – as a way to connect globally. They taught me to pursue my dreams and take risks.

Question 2: Was there a central experience that inspired you to be so involved as a global citizen of planet Earth?

Answer: Many experiences stand out. On a trip to Mexico when I was eight years old I learned that the Spanish language I was studying in elementary school could help me talk with girls my age. Camping in the former Soviet Union for 8 weeks in 1979 launched me into studying national security. But most influential was a group bicycle trip from Canada to Mexico, covering 1,800 miles in 40 days in the summer of 1973 I was one of 20 teens, ages 12-16. We were the Seattle Cycle Teens. My mother, Anne Staheli, conceived of and led that trip.

Question 3: When did you found the Global Co Lab Network website? That appears to be the central hub on the Internet for all other activities. Who were your biggest supporters in the beginning?

Answer: We founded the Global Co Lab Network in July 2015 as a non-governmental organization (NGO) with a global reach, for the purpose of inspiring curated intergenerational small gatherings to help youth become change agents. Visit Our initial supporters were graduate students from Georgetown University’s Graduate School of Communications who understood the power of small gatherings for sparking change. Our first series of salons focused on creating an initiative to build on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech,” called Teens Dream, a place for teens globally to express their dreams in a video contest and then get connected with each other, virtually and in real space and time.

Question 4: The most urgent item right now seems to be the upcoming annual Teens Dream Video Competition. What’s that about?

Answer: Yes! Teachers can begin planning now for classroom activities and lessons concerning the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are 17 goals [] to help keep the Earth as a viable home for human beings and other species. Middle and high school students can choose their favorite goal (such as Goal 2–Zero Hunger; or Goal 5–Gender Equality, etc.) and submit a 2-minute video of their dream as it relates to that goal. Teens Dream offers up to $1,300 in prize money, and sends the winners via plane, train, or Skype to an annual celebration. This Fall the winners will meet each other on September 29 in Washington, D.C. They will also meet with mentors who can help them realize their dreams. You can watch promotional videos, past entries by students, and learn more by going to This is the 4th iteration of this annual competition. Competition launches September 29, 2017. The deadline for entries is early next year, January 15, 2018.

Question 5: Do these student activities fit at all with the C3 Framework, The College, Career, and Civic Life Framework for State Social Studies Standards,

Answer: Yes, the first step of the C3 Inquiry Arc, “Developing Questions and Planning Inquiries” is already implied in the 17 Sustainability Goals. For example: How can we foster “Responsible Consumption and Production”? — which is goal #12.  Students have to apply their  “brain muscles” when they learn the vocabulary and concepts in this area, when they find examples and evidence to show in their films, and when they create the footage that relates their own conclusions and their own commitment to take action. Such work by students reflects steps 2 through 4 of the C3 Inquiry Arc. The curriculum that social studies teachers must teach this fall will match up with at least one of the 17 Sustainability Goals,  which “cover the map,” you could say, of possible subject matter.

Question 6: We see that Salons are defined as informal gatherings at which young people discuss issues they care about. How many Salons have been held, and how long do they last? What have been some of the topics of these Salons? Results?

Answer: The number of Salons we have hosted is now around 50, and they are typically 2 hours in length. The Global Co Lab helps host and encourages others to convene informal small gatherings around carefully identified challenges, inviting youth and adults of diverse perspective and background, designing dialogues focused on intentional collaborative engagement with input from the next generation, and working to incubate change.

Salons have addressed topics such as higher education, science diplomacy, mental health, mindfulness, and climate change. Youth can host a salon on any topic they’re passionate about – we are all about creating new initiatives out of these Salons – Teens Dream was our first! Click on ”Salons” at to learn more, and click “Resources/Tools” to learn how you can host an intergenerational Salon for “designing the future.”

Question 7: It looks like most of this work is done volunteers. This being the real world in a time of tight budgets, we have to ask about funding. We notice that individual donations can be made at your website (with tech support by Beyond that, how are these various activities supported financially?

Answer: Right now all of our work is voluntary, including mine. This is a two-year-old start up – with a grand vision for finding ways to connect younger folks and older folks around issues that matter – building on their passions as citizens of one planet. We have numerous supporters, volunteers, partners, and funders, including work this past year with the UN Foundation, the Smithsonian, and many other organizations as listed on webpages for the various projects. We have hosted some crowd-funded campaigns and would love any support! Go to if you’d like to help fund our efforts.

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Editor’s note: Necessary updates–the URL at the end, and minor editing–were installed to this news story on 7/25/2017.