Train intensely for your career of impact - the way a doctor or soldier or Olympic athlete would train.
Our name derives from the Swahili word for peace. The root word "aman" signifies peace or stability in every country in the arc from Morocco to Indonesia.
“All the interesting problems cross boundaries. Some straddle disciplines. Some require co-operation between business, government, academia and non-profit groups. So you have to train people to cross boundaries.”
- David Ellwood, Dean, Harvard Kennedy School of Government
New-World challenges demand a new breed of professional
Our most profound problems cross national boundaries, requiring not just interdisciplinary thought but also interlocking experiences to understand them. They call upon problem-solvers to submit their whole being in the service of creating sustainable change. And in this world of accelerating problems, the most important thing to do is help more people become problem-solvers.
The Amani Institute envisions a world without boundaries. These are boundaries between nations and, therefore, between peoples. Boundaries between religions and disciplines and ideologies. Boundaries between the classroom and society, between working for a living and working for meaning. We envision Amani Institute students seeing themselves as global changemakers – able to operate flexibly and freely wherever they are called to go, living and working in ways that transcend boundaries. And in the course of their lives and the model they set for others, these individuals practice this identity and develop its meaning and strength and wisdom.
The Market Failure in Higher Education
In September 2011, the Economist’s Special Report “The Great Mismatch” explored the divide between employers needing talent and the high level of unemployment around the world. The US Institute of Peace, the global youth organization AIESEC, the premier consulting (McKinsey) and human resources (Manpower) firms, and a major think-tank (Institute for the Future) all have publications exploring why CEOs increasingly claim that their biggest constraint to growth is finding the right staff. Click here to read these and other similar publications.
Our own survey of 54 leading organizations (reported on by Fast Company magazine in February 2013) confirmed these global findings also hold true for the jobs economy of the social sector. What employers value in incoming recruits isn’t provided adequately by universities, and vice-versa, what universities do well isn’t valued highly by employers. The core finding: future leaders of social change need to train for their careers through internships, skill development workshops, and field experiences.
All this external data resonated with the experiences of co-founders Ilaina Rabbat and Roshan Paul, who have together worked more than 25 years in social change, in every continent, and witnessed firsthand both the inadequacies of their top-ranked higher educations and the qualities needed by successful agents of change around the world.
There is a critical market failure in higher education. Though universities are beset by calls to provide more opportunities for experiential learning and building skills, they cannot re-tool their infrastructures fast enough to enable this transition. Our mission is to develop and spread a new model of education and training to encourage this transition towards 21st century approaches for career preparation and leadership development.
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.”
- Parker Palmer and Arthur Zajonc, The Heart of Higher Education
Our mission is to develop next-generation talent to address social challenges by creating a higher education model that offers future leaders 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. All this while simultaneously reducing the traditionally high cost of top-class global education.
We are not just training a highly skilled workforce to tackle global challenges, but also helping organizations work more effectively in pursuing social change.
Amani Institute graduates students 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 help shape the higher education system. We want to work with leading universities to adopt our 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 practitioner skills, 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.
From internship to apprenticeship: The typical internship is centered around a research outcome. It takes place over a shorter duration than is ideal for students to really be able to contribute to their host organization. On the other hand, we increase the length of the traditional internship to six months and create 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, complexities, and possibilities of getting things done in the field. The host organizations are chosen according to the individual participant’s long-term career interest, and benefit immensely from the additional capacity over a significant period.
A key aspect of successful careers is the development of skills that enable a practitioner and leader to contribute in multiple ways. Our curriculum, designed to develop professional skills essential for future career success, consist of two related streams of skill-building courses: a) 21st Century Economy Skills, and b) Cross-sector Management Skills. These courses range from Storytelling as a Leadership Skill to Organization Management, from Bio-Empathy to Technology Skills, and from Design Thinking to Leadership in Changing Times.
The courses are taught by leading practitioners, with significant international field experience and global networks (moving away from the academic instructor), able to share not just the theoretical aspects of the topic but also examples from their own work.
Here, we integrate the previous elements 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, special learning trips across Kenya, and interactions with role models, we create mechanisms to foster an in-depth exploration of the self, and a process of aligning self and professional purpose to develop strategies to stay balanced, grounded and personally sustainable for the long haul while doing highly challenging social change work.
Thus, our students:
Get an intensive experience of cross-boundary work,
Develop practical skills to build a 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 Olympic athlete or soldier trains – a mix of intensive immersion, the development of specific capacities, and the understanding of who they really are.
“It is much more difficult to solve social problems than it is to solve business problems, and the consequences of missteps can be far-reaching.”
- Angel Cabrera and Gregory Unruh, Being Global
The Amani Institute is about developing whole individuals who have the knowledge and practical skills required to solve today's problems and the networks to be equipped to take on social challenges.
Throughout our model, we will be focusing on developing 4 essential skills for leaders of the future to master. These are also the core values by which we will measure our own impact in the world, and continually strive to live up to ourselves. They include the vision to see what needs to change, the courage to step into the unknown, the empathy to work effectively with others, and an ethos of change-making in the service of building a more peaceful world.
To read more about our values, click here
For more details on current program offerings, click here