The Institute at Havergal: Building a Culture of Capability
Havergal’s mission to prepare young women to make a difference in the world is the spine of a Havergal education. On their arrival at school, we ask students: “What are you going to do?”
The mission’s nerve centre is the Forum for Change, the home of the Institute at Havergal. A stimulus for innovation and action, the Forum for Change is the centre of student action that reaches out into our interconnected and dynamic world.
In the Forum for Change, we know that Havergal students are not bystanders – they are young women of impact. They are young women who think about, “what kind of world do I want and what am I going to do to contribute to that world?” We encourage and support them in their thinking, and in developing the action they wish to take, with their peers and like-minded people both at and beyond Havergal. Their action and contribution in building the world they want is central to their time here at Havergal and to their future place in the world.
We believe that it is vital that students not only learn about the world but experience it and apply their knowledge to their interactions with others. When students enter the Forum for Change, our conversation starts with their ideas and passions, with which we are always intrigued and to which we say “yes.” No idea is an impossible one. We help students figure out where to start. Helping students with their ideas is the impetus for the Students Act Now program. The conversation continues as we incubate the ideas and coach students to determine the scope of their engagement and connections with others. We help students define what success means to them. And we support them as they take the risk of trying something new. Inevitably, the process is not linear. It may involve the experience of failure, of redefining goals and of becoming more comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty.
This deliberate design of the Students Act Now program enables students to develop confidence in their ability to acquire the knowledge and skills they need to believe they can accomplish their goals.
Its complement, the Global Experience Program, is designed to develop in students the ability to be effective anywhere, with anyone at anytime. The three platforms of this experiential learning are community partnerships (which range from participating at a shelter for young mothers, a running and reading club, to a social enterprise, among others), academic exchanges, and excursions over March Break and summer. Many of the excursions support on our community partnerships and are connected to our Old Girls, which demonstrates to our students that they are connected everywhere.
At Havergal, we challenge ourselves to engage and have impact with people, in partnership, with respect for perspective. This is not service – we do not help or give. It’s not about fundraising. We partner and engage to achieve shared objectives. Those with whom we work know better than we do what they want and need in their lives. We learn by working with them. The practice of effective impact is a whole-life continuum and lifelong endeavor: at school, in community and, eventually, at work. After all, the brain never stops developing.
The Programs of the Institute at Havergal
Each year the Institute asks the question, “What kind of world do I want?” as an active focal point for learning. Together, Students Act NOW and the Global Experience Program (GEP) will expose students to opportunities to engage in local and international initiatives to help build the self-efficacy and global capability that will enable them to contribute to the world in which they want to live and thrive. Through local and international experiences, students will develop the belief in their own abilities and in their capability to learn, acquire new skills and adapt to new situations. These experiences range from after-school partnerships to student-initiated partnerships that allow students to share in the lives of young people in Toronto and around the world.
Our programs seek to expose Havergal students to the perspectives and lives of others, enable students to engage in real-world problem solving and build direct and mutual partnerships to address a shared purpose. Students will be encouraged to inhabit the spaces of others: experience where they work, live and play. This full immersion in the lives of others will serve to develop a student’s sense of self-efficacy while further developing the qualities necessary to be effective in developing relationships with anyone, anywhere and at any time.