This year we are planning something rather different – an intergenerational values-based conversation between “Elders” (aged over 60) and “Youngers” (young people between 16 and 18).
We are working with Hank Kune of Educore, co-founder of Time’s Arrow, Global Lab for Social Innovation and other societal innovation initiatives, and other partners in countries around the world.
We’d like help in recruiting around 10 to 12 schools in the UK/European/Indian/African time zones who might be interested in putting forward 4-6 pupils each.
If you have any suggestions please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will follow them up with you or with the suggested contact as appropriate.
What are we aiming to achieve?
- Enhancing the capacity of young people and elders to understand each other
- Discovering what is important for both groups (young people and elders)
- Exploring new ideas about how values are important for renewing society
- Reducing Intergenerational Illiteracy
What do we really know about what other generations think? What do they think about? What’s important to them, when thinking about the future they want to live in?
Our two target groups – young people 16-18 years old and elders older than 60 – are groups in society that rarely talk to and listen to – and learn from – each other. We believe that they have lots to say to each other: sharing their questions about what’s important in life, and their ideas questions about what they value.
But how to support their conversations?
Many teenagers don’t know any seniors except their own family members. Most elders have little or no contact with teenagers except for their own grandchildren. And not only don’t they speak with each other, they are two groups in society whose voices very often don’t get heard in discussions about improving society. Teenagers don’t vote yet, and haven’t been to university – and far too often once elders retire, their opinions no longer ‘count’, and they are put into boxes called grandparenting (“you’ve done enough, spend time with your grandchildren, there’s no reason for you to continue contributing to society’s well-being”).
This initiative aims to put these two generations together. We want to help people learn to dialogue: across ages, across cultures, and across continents.
In September 2021, the United Nations Secretary-General released his Our Common Agenda report. It contains a clear focus on the future, including ‘solidarity between generations’, and a ‘deepening of solidarity with the world’s young people and future generations.
We ask again: what do different generations know about each other? How do they communicate with each other? How can we work for integrational solidarity unless they begin the talk with each other, across borders of every kind?
We’re prototyping this Intergenerational Knowledge Cafe on World Values Day, October 19th, 2023, with another similar Cafe a week before on October 12th. The potential participants will be from different parts of Europe, the Middle East, India, and Africa, to help bridge this intergenerational divide.
Ideally, they will be the first in a series of intergenerational conversations of this kind, with different groups and in different time zones.
Attributes that will enable organizations to target the most suitable participants:
- 16 – 18 years old
- Mix of genders
- Interested in crossing borders (of every kind)
- [Perhaps] Thinking about big decisions in their lives (e.g. what to do after graduating)
Main topics to be discussed:
- What’s important to you (and why)
- What are the values that bring us together
- What kind of world they’d like to see in 10 years
How – logistics
As part of the World Values Day campaign, the Cafe is planned for two dates: October 12th (one week ahead of World Values Day) and October 19th which is World Values Day itself.
The conversations will be held online, using Zoom as a platform at
- 09:30 in the UK and Ireland, and parts of Africa
- 10:30 in Continental Europe, and parts of Africa
- 12:30 in the Middle East
- 14:00 in India
On each of the two dates we want to target: 50-60 attendees: 30 Youngers, and 30 Elders from several countries. As the Cafe will be during school term time, ideally, we would ideally like five to six schools from a few different countries to participate in each session, with each school contributing five students with a mix of genders.
Knowledge Cafe format:
The Knowledge Cafe is a conversational process that brings people together to share experiences, learn from each other, build relationships, and make a better sense of a complex, rapidly changing world. It is a simple but flexible conversational event. At its purest, the Cafe allows people to have a conversation on topics of mutual interest, in order to better understand an issue. It is, at its best, a powerful sense-making experience.
What is different about the Knowledge Cafe, compared to similar methodologies, is that no attempt is made to make decisions or reach consensus as part of the Cafe. The real outcomes are what people take away in their heads and the relationships that are developed.
On both the 12th and 19th of October, the Intergenerational Cafe (IGC) will have the following structure:
- Plenary Beginning
- Three rounds of small group conversation, each with different people, about a related question
- Plenary sharing of ideas and conclusions
- Questions like the following will be posed to the small group participants (tentative)
- What do I see in the world when you look around?
- Why is it important to me?
- What can we do about it?
This plan is tentative. We intend to involve young people in the detailed design of the Cafe. Please contact us for further information or with any suggestions at email@example.com