The technological boom of the past two decades has elevated youth in their capacity as consumers and technological vanguards. Yet in many parts of the world young people continue to face tremendous challenges including high unemployment, political alienation, and insufficient access to affordable education and healthcare. These conditions, moreover, contribute to feelings of disempowerment and alienation, which, when ignored, can lead to major social unrest along the lines of what has occurred in parts of the Middle East and Africa over the past three years. In those countries, frustration from systemic disempowerment and lack of opportunities has led to a level of collective action that has permanently reshaped the political futures of those regions.
The traditional rhetoric of developing young people today for future leadership is giving way. Researchers and policy makers have begun to recognize the need for more meaningful roles for young people within leadership and governance structures. Evidence from a growing body of research and effective youth practice has shown that when young people are involved in meaningful leadership experiences early in life, they tend to be more engaged in community and nation-building as adults. In the process, they also acquire greater attachment to their societies, greater respect for diversity, and are more competent and confident in their everyday tasks.
This line of research has shown that the quality of early leadership experiences youth undergo plays an important role in determining future leadership competence. In light of these findings, concerned individuals in many countries are beginning to ask difficult questions, such as how is meaningful participation, leadership, and shared decision-making among youth operationalized currently. What are the barriers to meaningful participation and transformation? What experiences do young leaders need to help them develop sensitivity to larger realities and trends? How can institutions and nations move forward in building more systematic efforts to enhance meaningful participation for young people?
To lead effectively in the future, research tells us that young people need leadership development experiences that will allow them to make educated, informed decisions based on both local and global realities. The days of isolation and insularity are over. Today’s interconnectedness of social, economic and political life requires young people to be critically aware of what is happening not only within their communities, but also regionally and globally.
The Third International Conference on Youth (ICYOUTH) 2016, Youth as Global Leaders Today for a Better Tomorrow aims to provide a forum for the presentation of research findings, issues and trends related to these ideas. Diverse perspectives are sought from those who work with and on behalf of young people from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds including researchers, practitioners, teachers, youth program participants and policy makers. Along these lines, the objectives of ICYOUTH 2016 are to:
Broaden participants’ understanding of the critical importance of meaningful youth participation in leadership contexts, activities and forums.
Understand the perspectives and views of young people in relation to organizational, program and community participation.
Exchange ideas on issues, challenges and strategies related to the transformation of youth through meaningfully participation and leadership.
Create an effective forum for communication and cooperation among paper presenters and participants.