The Global Classroom initiative, which forms part of the G20 Finance Track, was launched in the German town of Baden-Baden on 17 March 2017 to coincide with the meeting of the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors. It focuses on the top priority of the German G20 presidency, namely to take responsibility for shaping a stable world now and in the future. The project aims to get young people involved in a dialogue on G20 financial issues. Students from Germany and other G20 member states can connect with each other via the interactive Global Classroom website. They have the option of working together on questions relating to G20 financial topics both in the classroom and online. The project will conclude with a student competition. The winners will travel to a special closing event in Hamburg in July 2017, which will take place at the same time as the G20 summit.
Prominent support from Germany and abroad
The Global Classroom project has received prominent support within Germany and abroad. One of the highlights of the online educational materials is an interview with Federal Minister of Finance Wolfgang Schäuble conducted by two students from Hamburg. Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann answered students’ questions about the spread of digital technology in another interview. Other distinguished experts who have supported the initiative by providing video interviews include Vanessa Rubio Márquez, Undersecretary of Finance and Public Credit at the Mexican finance ministry, the UK’s Mark Bowman, Director General at HM Treasury, and the economists Paul Collier of the University of Oxford and Alberto Alesina of Harvard University. The videos were published as part of the Global Classroom project and can also be viewed on the Finance Ministry’s dedicated website and on the Finance Ministry’s YouTube channel.
The focus of the Global Classroom project is on G20 financial topics. In addition, the participating students learn more about the fundamental importance of the G20 and how it works in practice. The materials are provided in the form of six modules that were produced for the Global Classroom project by the Joachim Herz Foundation, which specialises in teaching young people about economics in schools. Each module includes texts written by experts from the fields of politics, research and civil society as well as tasks that help the students review and apply what they have learned. The material in each module provides a general overview, while additional optional exercises allow students to examine the issues in greater depth. In this way, the course can be used by students with different levels and interests.
In addition to the individual modules, the students can also take part in online discussions on the course tasks and on topics of their own choosing in the “Global Conference Room”. Employees of the Joachim Herz Foundation and of the Federal Ministry of Finance are available during “online office hours” to provide information about the course materials. At the end of the course, participating students will receive a “Certificate of Financial Expertise”. The teachers who took part will also receive confirmation that they supported a group of students as part of the Global Classroom project (see figure 1).
More than 750 students registered for the project. As expected, the best-represented country was Germany. Students from other countries in Europe, Asia, North America, South America and Africa also participated.
The Global Classroom project will culminate in a competition for the participating students. The students were invited to send in English-language entries in a format of their choice (for example, an essay, video or poster) by the end of May 2017. The competition entry had to focus on one of the following two questions:
- Global challenges require global solutions. Do you agree or disagree, and why?
- Why is the spread of digital technology an important issue for the G20?
The response to the competition has been very encouraging, with entries received from 14 countries. A high-level jury comprising representatives of the Joachim Herz Foundation, the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Deutsche Bundesbank selected the best entries. The winners are invited to a special event in Hamburg on 5–9 July 2017, which will coincide with the G20 summit. In Hamburg, the students will take part in a varied programme, meet students from other participating countries, and discuss their ideas with international experts and decision-makers.