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U.S. Global Shapers: A Davos Lab Initiative in Conjunction with the World Economic Forum

Born out of the World Economic Forum, the Global Shapers Community is a network of inspiring young people under the age of 30 working together to address local, regional, and global challenges. With more than 10,000 members, the Global Shapers Community spans 445 city-based hubs in 147 countries.

U.S. Global Shapers coordinated a series of dialogues tackling major issues across 9 pillars impacting the United States

In Spring 2021, U.S. Global Shaper Hubs across the country came together to organize Davos Lab Dialogue discussions, facilitating conversations that brought together community partners, local and national leaders, and members of the community. The goal: to outline a new vision for youth participation and collective action for the current decade and beyond.

The core team leading this initiative in the United States was spearheaded by David Capelli, Daniel Kang, Pascal Rathle, Chirag Sagar, Lin Shi, Alexis Taylor, and Ryan D. Taylor. They orchestrated a series of conversations in partnership with 9 U.S-based Shaper Hubs to coordinate a series of dialogues focused on the following topics:

  1. Conscious consumerism
  2. Digital access
  3. Digital literacy
  4. Future of politics
  5. Mental health
  6. Net zero
  7. Next generation ESG
  8. Public health
  9. Public safety


The following U.S. Global Shapers put together the following report from their series of conversations: Ekin Su Akdemir, Dr. Raghu Appasani, Julie Cannon, David Capelli, Sangeeta Gadepalli, Bailey Herbstreit, Osay Imarhiagbe, Batul Joffrey, Daniel Kang, Aadithya Prakash, Ashleyn Przedwiecki, Pascal Rathle, Chirag Sagar, Lin Shi, Alexis Taylor, and Ryan D Taylor.

In late September 2021, the Davos Lab Dialogue team shared their core findings with the Shaper community at large, the World Economic Forum, and general public: https://drive.google.com/file/u/2/d/1_1RwQrEItjOe_RKB2cRQJSMjKNdsFnsV/view?usp=sharing_eip_dm&ts=614ad429

Following are highlights from the team’s findings, grouped by subject matter.

COVID-19’s Impact on the US

David Capelli from the Palo Alto discusses the impact COVID has had in the United States  

Despite having much of the population vaccinated, the US still had half the number of daily cases and deaths in September 2020 compared to those in September 2021, Capelli notes. This pandemic is a crisis not just in terms of public health, but also in terms of economics and diplomacy. 

Capelli articulates the value statement that effectuating change requires stakeholder action and recalibration. As responsible young leaders for America’s future, he says, we’re dedicated to catalyzing action through these Hubs, collaborating locally, regionally, and nationally.

The five guiding values for composing the report included responsiveness, orientation towards action, inclusion, ethical action, and governance, with an emphasis on the core pillars the Davos Dialogue addressed.

Conscious Consumerism

Ashleyn Przedwiecki from the Minneapolis hub and Faye Francisco from the Dallas hub speak about conscious consumerism

Przedwiecki and Francisco are both leaders of the global Shaping Fashion initiative, which focuses on conscious consumption. “The largest issue we identified is the shared accountability,” says Przedwiecki. For decades, large corporations paid for advertisements and lobbied to put the responsibility for the world’s problems around overconsumption on the individuals. 

Recommendations:

  • Utilize taxation and fiscal policy to encourage sustainable practices within companies.
  • Require brands to take responsibility for products’ end of life.
  • Invest in better high-quality design, starting at the production level. Shift efforts to more sustainable practices to avoid overproduction.
  • Make sustainable, ethically-made products more accessible to consumers (including rural areas).
  • Petition state and local governments to act now on the growing problem of waste.

Digital Access

Osay Imarhiagbe from the Atlanta hub discusses digital access

In March, the Atlanta Hub hosted a dialogue around the topic of digital access. The panel of guest speakers are experts in the fields of youth education and digital learning. It was an interactive session, Imarhiagbe notes, with time split between discussion and collaborative activities.

Recommendations:

  • Encourage local and state governments to pass legislation to expand broadband access.
  • Challenge telecom service providers to expand broadband access to underserved regions.
  • Include members of communities affected by limited digital access on advisory committees.
  • Expand outreach efforts to non-profits working with individuals with limited internet connectivity to investigate specific community needs.
  • Partner with youth engagement programs to provide connectivity assistance and access to digital tools and hardware.

Digital Literacy

Ekin Su Akdemir from the Houston hub speaks about digital literacy

The Houston Hub held a dialogue with leaders in education, science, communication, and the public library, as well as the public and other stakeholders. 

Akdemir notes, “Our delegates start with a workshop, identify misinformation with a science communicator, and focus on education.”

They reviewed three angles for education. 

  1. Improved physical connectivity by providing Wi-Fi to all students and offering complementary sources of books and videos. 
  2. How is education in the current century and what can we change? 
  3. What can we do about compromised digital literacy skills? 

Recommendations: 

  • Increase programs that bolster connectivity in school to make sure students have access to Wi-Fi and resources.
  • Rethink how we educate students. A very rigid structure does not fit this century.
  • Target parents’ digital literacy skills. Local officials could partner with influencers to increase access to digital literacy.
  • Better press coverage is needed to share these resources, such as digital resources provided via libraries. 

Future of Politics

David Capelli from the Palo Alto hub discusses the future of politics

Capelli provided recommendations for the Biden Administration and Congress based on the Davos Dialogue he curated, “Building Back Better: Asian Leadership in COVID-19.” The dialogue’s guests of honor included State of California Controller Betty Yee; State of California Assemblymember, Asian American Pacific Islander Caucus Chair Evan Low; and Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) Professor Dr. Samuel Chng.

Recommendations:

  • Appoint a Presidential Advisor on Youth and Millennial Affairs.
  • Create a more robust pipeline program with the Department of State.
  • Increase Fulbright funding. 
  • Grow and expand the number of public administration programs.
  • Congress to increase the number of paid international relations policy fellowships on Capitol Hill. 

Mental Health 

Chirag Sagar highlights the topic of mental health, supported by Raghu Appasani, Batul Joffrey and Lin Shi from the Los Angeles hub 

Sagar notes, “Mental health concerns are plaguing society, especially with COVID. People are feeling secluded.” Sagar provides recommendations for mental wellbeing based on a dialogue that the Los Angeles Hub organized with mental health leaders, including psychologist Dr. Alfiee Bernard Nobel, psychiatrist and Global Shaper Dr. Raghu Appasani, youth mental health advocate Larissa May, and online wellness community founder Shira Lazar. 

Recommendations:

  • Acknowledge and invest in workplace mental health & well-being initiatives.
  • Train peer champions and corporate executives in mental health 101.
  • Create a global mental health rating scale to grade corporations on their investment in employees’ mental health.
  • Integrate mental health education into our public school systems, supported by the government.
  • Develop community spaces for gatherings to facilitate mental health discussions.

Net Zero

Ryan D. Taylor from the Boston hub discusses Net Zero goals

The climate and Net Zero goals are topics with a global impact that have to be tackled at a hyper-local scale. 

Recommendations:

  • Develop coordinated efforts to legislate climate change policy aligned with science-based targets.
  • Define clear pathways for the integration of climate justice, energy justice and environmental justice into policy and business.
  • Deploy capital rapidly across all asset classes to drive the development of cutting edge solutions and to scale existing solutions.
  • Drive creation and adoption of practices aligned with the core principles of the circular economy.

Next Generation ESG

Pascal Rathle from the Jacksonville hub discusses next-gen ESG

The Jacksonville Hub has engaged in a bi-weekly seminar series with community leaders from northeast Florida, including a session with Mari Kurashi, Co-Founder of Global Giving and President of the Jessie Ball duPont Fund. 

Recommendations: 

  • Design capacity-building policies where multigenerational conversations impact organizations’ long-term decision-making.
  • Encourage youth to run for office and make a sustainable impact.
  • Open private/independent sector facilities to the public for community conversations.
  • Enterprises should be involved in community affairs where their HQs and offices are. 
  • Enable the next generation to take risks on their current ethical practices. 
  • Governments should limit one-size-fits-all policies.

Public Health

Julie Cannon from the Palo Alto hub & Sangeeta Gadepalli from the Austin hub speak about the state of public health

A series of informal dialogues and discussions were conducted on the current and future state of public health. While most were focused on COVID-19, discussions were also held on the overall healthcare system, especially regarding the expansion of health care access to vulnerable populations. Cannon notes that a healthy population is inherently tied to equitable access to food, housing, education, and climate health. 

Recommendations:

  • Provide incentives to influence behavior and lifestyle choices. 
  • Ensure the public has access to healthcare, education, food, and housing at all times.
  • Frontline workers need better training to adapt to rapidly changing care delivery models, covering all levels of clinical care. Provide access to mental health services to frontline workers to support them through these challenging times. 
  • Encourage organizations to create emergency or pandemic preparedness plans.

Public Safety

Jonathan Fair from the Chicago hub discusses public safety

The Chicago Hub tackled the public safety pillar through an impact project focusing on police accountability. Fair notes, “In 2020, amidst the COVID 19 pandemic, the nation and Chicago were brought to a breaking point with the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd at the hands of police officers.” The Hub developed and implemented a public awareness campaign that focused on hate crimes and incidents motivated by bias or hate.

Recommendations:

  • Officers should receive training on how to interact with individuals experiencing mental health crises.
  • Establish programs to assist officers who have responded to high-stress calls.
  • Recruit talented personnel who reflect the community’s diversity.
  • Engage in a community-driven, collaborative process to formulate a new vision for public safety, emphasizing the primacy of community participation.
  • Encourage and incentivize higher education for law enforcement officers.


The Road Ahead for Global Shapers

The Global Shapers are focusing on scaling their impact during the COVID reset. 

“Our next actions are to develop more opportunities for collaboration based on discussions today,” says a statement from the group. “We are focused on sharing our vision and mission to address these pressing issues with local and regional leaders, as well as with the Biden Administration on a national level.”