“Disengaged forms of learning are likely to lead toward disengaged lives. What students learn about poverty from reading texts is almost always less compelling than what they learn by doing that reading while volunteering in a community where the sights, sounds, smells of poverty are inescapable elements of the educational experience.”
To achieve a world without boundaries we need to develop whole individuals who have the knowledge, practical skills, and networks required to solve social challenges. Our mission is to develop next-generation talent by creating a new model for higher education that retains the current strengths of universities while also offering students opportunities to get an intensive experience of cross-boundary work, develop practical skills to build their professional toolkit, and understand the personal journey this work requires in order to be effective and sustainable as an individual over time.
This will involve increasing the role of technology without sacrificing peer-learning, enabling greater access to networks of leading organizations, and enhancing existing curricula with professional skills relevant to day-to-day professional activities. All this while simultaneously reducing the traditionally high cost of top-class global education.
The Amani Institute it is not just about training a highly skilled workforce to tackle global challenges, but also about helping organizations work more effectively in pursuing social change. Amani Institute graduates students will contribute to the growth of the organizations they are placed in, both during their apprenticeships as well as when they are employed full-time. They are also better equipped to start their own ventures. Finally, our end goal is not to create a large new training institution but to change the higher education system. We want to inspire universities to adopt the Amani Institute Methodology to train the new professionals and leaders the world needs in the 21st century.
The Amani Institute Experience comprises three interlocking streams of activity: experiential learning through relevant field placements, professional skill-building to learn core skills of the future practitioner, and a personal leadership journey which helps the student reflect on their own leadership path and integrate both field experience skill-building into a coherent whole picture.
- Experiential Learning Open or Close
From internship to apprenticeship: The typical internship is designed around a research outcome, and takes place over a shorter duration than is ideal for students to really be able to contribute to their host organization. The Amani Institute increases the length of the traditional summer internship (typical lengths will vary according to particular programs) and creates sustained and meaningful apprenticeships in host organizations to ensure that students are placed in projects that enable them to plug into the daily functioning of the organization and understand first-hand the immense challenges and complexities (and possibilities) of getting things done in the field.
- Professional Skill-Building Open or Close
A key aspect of successful careers is the development of skills that will enable a practitioner and leader to contribute in multiple ways. The Amani Institute curriculum, designed to develop professional skills essential for future career success, will consist of two related streams of skill-building:
Cross-sector Management Skills: Strategic planning, budgeting, monitoring and evaluation, negotiation, and so on.
21st Century Economy Skills: Storytelling, design thinking, bio-empathy, social media, social entrepreneurship and so on.
- The Leader’s Journey Open or Close
The third element is the integration of the experiential learning and the professional skill-building components within the framework of each student’s individual journey from apprentice to confident leader. How do students understand whom they really are, tap into their passion and purpose, and actively shape who they will become? Reflective practice is a core element of adult learning. Through structured coaching from mentors, feedback from their peers, and special visits and guests, we build in mechanisms that ensure students reflect on their personal journey, understand how to be effective and personally sustainable over the long haul, and experiment with their leadership development throughout the program.
Thus, our students:
- Get an intensive experience of cross-boundary work,
- Develop practical skills to build their professional toolkit, and
- Understand the personal journey this work requires in order to be effective and sustainable as an individual over time.
In other words, they begin to train intensely for their careers, the way a doctor or athlete or someone in the military trains – a mix of intensive immersion, the development of specific capacities, and the understanding of who they really are.