Tackling a Pressing Global Issue: Global Ideas Institute

Today's global economy demands that students think in a global context - The Global Ideas Institute meets that demand by challenging secondary school students to grapple with current intractable, multi-faceted global problems. The I-Think Initiative partners with the Munk School of Global Affairs and the University of Toronto Schools to develop the guiding framework and pedagogy for the project teams for this annual institute.


By introducing students to the Integrative Thinking approach, they were better prepared to tackle and appreciate the complexity of the problems. The Integrative Thinking framework and tools empowered the students by enhancing their problem-solving strategies and fueling their potential to generate and utilize  multiple possibilities, to create more comprehensive and innovative solutions.

-  Rosemary Evans, Principal, University of Toronto Schools

Since 2010, the Global Ideas Institute (GII) is an initiative of the Munk School of Global Affairs. The GII was conceived in the Asian Institute at the Munk School and led by Professor Joseph Wong to provide intensive research and learning opportunities for high school students. 

Participating high school student teams of 4-6 students tackle a global challenge, a real-world problem without a current solution.      Researchers from the University of Toronto (U of T) and expert practitioners present monthly lectures to provide context to the issue. Each student team also has U of T student mentors to guide them and help them to develop innovative ideas to address the problem. Mentoring takes place in-person following each monthly lecture. Each lecture is supplemented with a package of articles, current research and videos to provide students with context and knowledge. Faculty expertise combined with the support and guidance from U of T mentors prepares high school students for the day-long symposium and poster exhibition to present their ideas at U of T.

The Global Ideas Institute is the place where students can put their creativity, knowledge and problem-solving to the test. Past GII Challenges include:

Integrative Thinking is an approach to problem solving that helps problem solvers to deeply explore their thinking while appreciating the complexity of the challenge. Working with the Global Ideas Organizing Committee, the I-Think Initiative helped to develop the activities that guide each of the students teams through the challenge. Activities were designed to:

  • Support students to explore complexity
  • Deeply understand current models, their gaps and opportunities
  • Build understanding towards developing innovations

These core activities help students develop skills to work in teams, explore wicked problems and engage with ambiguity.


Contact the Global Ideas Institute for more information on how your school can join next year's program.