Dana Mortenson

Ashoka Fellow
United States,
Fellow Since 2011

Citation

This profile was prepared when Dana Mortenson was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2011.
The New Idea
In order to thrive in an interconnected world, one must learn a number of crucial, non-academic skills such as understanding and relating to perspectives other than one’s own; mastering teamwork, critical and creative thinking; and being an adept problem-solver. Dana, like many others in the field of education, recognizes that such abilities must be taught at a young age. Whereas many schools and organizations today are encouraging teachers to participate in their students’ global education through extracurricular activities, Dana is leading an effort to mainstream global competency in K-12 schools by integrating it into regular class time. She is thus ensuring that students and educators stop relating to global affairs as a separate subject. Instead, she is introducing them to global competency through an interdisciplinary lens with applications in math, science, English, art and history classes, among others. Teaching the skill of empathy is at the core of her work. She is working with hundreds of educators each year to provide their students with project-based learning opportunities that introduce them to the outside world, help them relate to it and facilitate their transformation into global citizens. The business model behind her approach also makes it one of a handful of affordable global competency programs accessible to some of the country’s least-resourced public schools.

Having reached more than 30,000 students and 1,700 teachers in San Francisco, New York, and Minneapolis-St. Paul since founding, Dana plans to achieve national scale by 2016. To this end, she is developing a technology platform that will enable schools around the country to participate remotely in her initiative. In addition, Dana is working on a Global Competency Certification system for educators, while positioning herself as a key contributor to the dialogue on national education standards to support the integration of global competencies across subject matters.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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