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Schools around the world are facing similar challenges of increased urban migration, digital divides, and unsatisfactory teacher training; meanwhile, there is an explosion of scientific knowledge and exponential shifts in career paths, which demand that schools prepare students to be scientifically literate. Globalization indicates that the problems of one country affect everyone; therefore, educating all children to be responsive to the issues of the day is critical.  As Emmanuel Nnandozie, of the African Capacity Building Foundation (PAS, 2015) notes, “real transformation will not happen unless countries give real priorities to STEM” education.  A powerful and sustained implementation of inquiry-based science education (IBSE) teamed with civic learning and social emotional learning (SEL) can help students focus on the issues of critical importance, such as climate change, the health of the world’s oceans, and clean energy, while examining each issue from multiple perspectives. Educating youth about complex socio-scientific issues will help to inoculate young people and their teachers and parents against societal and health problems that can adversely affect their lives. The Solution: Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Inspired and motivated by the universal call to action within the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Smithsonian Institution, through the Smithsonian Science Education Center and with the technical support of the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) and the private sector, has made a collaborative commitment to work towards ensuring inclusive and equitable education programs and lifelong learning opportunities for all.  We are doing that by developing a set of free curriculum modules for students ages 8-17 called Smithsonian Science for Global Goals, which blends together previous practices in Inquiry-Based Science Education (IBSE), Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), Global Citizenship Education (GCE), and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD).  Smithsonian Science for Global Goals will create new forums across the globe to proffer education solutions to complex socio-scientific problems of national and global import. The goal is to not only teach students the science behind these socio-scientific issues, but to drive students’ capabilities to take action to use this science to do social good in their communities and the world. Today, the SDGs are driving education decisions in international settings, and the Smithsonian Science Education Center is responding by developing a culturally relevant SDG curriculum to better serve our global audience of young learners. One of the challenges with abstract global goals is how to apply them concretely in local settings. To address that challenge, our curriculum is designed to incorporate place-specific data and community perspectives in order to ensure local relevance. It is not enough to teach students that the SDGs exist. Instead we are seeking new ways for students to embody the SDGs in their classrooms every day. Through the Smithsonian Science for Global Goals curriculum, the Smithsonian is engaging experts from multiple sectors from around the globe to empower the next generation of decision makers capable of making the right choices about the complex socio-scientific issues facing human society (e.g., climate change, healthy oceans, clean energy, biodiversity, nutrition, healthy ecosystems, freshwater access, pollution, etc). Development partners include researchers, partnering government agencies, private and public-sector funders, and scientists from across the globe who are part of the 130 national and regional academies of science and medicine that are members of the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP). Pedagogical Approach to Educating Youth on the SDGs Our pedagogical approach to educating youth on the SDG’s is what we call our “Global Goals Action Progression”, which combines science education, identity and social and emotional learning, and civic engagement (IBSE, SEL, GCE, ESD). Taken together, these key elements build a progression that takes students from understanding their own identity and the identify of their community as it relates to the socio-scientific issue; to questioning and investigating the relevant scientific and social causes, engaging in critical reasoning and systemic thinking, and then taking their newfound scientific knowledge to engage in social action. The goal is for students to use their newfound scientific knowledge and community understanding to form the habit of taking action on global issues in a way that is locally relevant. The center portion of the “Global Goals Action Progression”—critical reasoning and systemic understanding—is the tie that binds. Armed with their new scientific understanding of the complex socio-scientific issue, students examine their own values and perspectives (ethical, social, economic, and environmental) on the issue and test how these values and perspectives influence their local and global thinking. Learning teams use their understandings to find common ground, build consensus, and plan and carry out local actions to help attain the SDGs. Along the way, their perspectives and mindsets change as they learn more about the world around them, building a new foundation from which to tackle the next socio-scientific problem. Mosquito-borne Diseases Through Smithsonian Science for Global Goals we are not only working toward meeting the 2030 agenda of the UN, but we also hope to address the Smithsonian’s 2022 vision to “engage and inspire” more students and teachers, “where they are, with greater impact, while catalyzing critical conversations on issues affecting our nation and the world.” With educational, social, health, and environmental challenges facing our most vulnerable populations, students around the world need to become scientifically literate citizens who can make informed decisions about their individual and collective futures. The Smithsonian Science Education Center has developed the first of an anticipated 17 SDG-focused curriculum modules called “Mosquito! How Can We Ensure Health For All From Mosquito-borne Diseases?”  funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and Johnson & Johnson. Mosquito! addresses SDG #3, 4, 16 and 17 and employs the latest research on how children learn. We have also proposed a tentative framework for the titles for 16 additional Smithsonian Science for Global Goals curriculum modules. The modules develop socio-scientific understanding across goals and targets, rather than each module addressing one individual SDG. This helps to build connections between the goals. Each curriculum module will be translated into several languages and the emphasis on local knowledge means teachers can adapt it to the context of their classroom With the help of private and government sectors, our next step is to take this framework and example module and seek funds to develop the remaining curriculum modules and develop support for teachers so that we can freely disseminate and implement the curriculum across the globe. According to the United Nations, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund, economies around the world are reorganizing their giving to align with the SDGs.  Corporations are also recognizing the importance of supporting trusted organizations—like the Smithsonian and academies of science—that are catalyzing critical conversations that affect the nation and the world.  Corporate Social Responsibility dollars, and even dollars once reserved for marketing, are now shifting to support SDG-related activities. Consumers—and today’s youth—are making more of their choices about which companies they support based on how much “social good” those companies are doing and whether the companies are helping the planet and its citizens. The SDGs are helping to prepare students to be scientifically literate and drive social change. About the author: Carol’s 35 years in science education include working at the Smithsonian Institution, National Academy of Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, and George Washington University. Carol has expertise in education policy, professional development, cognition, curriculum development, and education research. She serves on the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) Science Education Programme Global Council. Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in the print edition of the 2018 G7 Summit magazine.

But it’s difficult to think about value when we have no buoy for understanding it outside our traditional lenses: for example, our time, our job, and what others tell us they are worth in cash. This, largely, is the world’s paradigm for value so far. But understanding what value really means changes everything—and will be at the center of the decentralized revolution in global coordination that will unfold over the next decade. So, where do we begin?

Let’s start with gold.

Gold is an inherent value. When backing a market, gold allows us to grow a balanced economy well into the trillions. But why does it allow for massive stable markets to form around it? It is gold's permanence that creates stability. We understand that gold will always have value, because it is inherent in all of us, not just in one part of the world, but everywhere, not just today, but tomorrow and for the long haul.

In the 1930s when the gold standard was removed, we learned that the U.S. dollar didn’t need gold to back its economy to flourish. We learned that it was just a symbol for U.S. citizens to decentralize their coordination around the United States economy.

It turns out, common agreement is a philosophy for building shared economy.



And so it seems inherent value is a marker for us to begin exploring what the future could look like—a future beyond gold and the existing realm of credit. And so what else has inherent value? Is education as valuable as gold? What about healthcare? What about a vote that can’t be tampered with? What about an ID that can’t be stolen or erased? What about access to nutrition or clean water? You will find value everywhere you look.



It turns out, we’ve already done the legwork necessary to uncover the most elemental inherent values: The Sustainable Development Goals are commitments grown out of the drive to bring to life basic tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—the closest possible social contract we have to a global, common agreement.

We’ve already agreed, as a global community, to ensure inclusive and equitable access to quality education. We’ve already agreed to empower all women and girls, to ensure pure and clean water access for all, to promote health at all stages of life, and to end hunger.

We’ve already agreed.

Our agreements are grounded in deep value centers that are globally shared, but undervalued and unfulfilled. The reason for this is our inability to quantify intangible value. All of these rich, inherent values are still nebulous and fragmented in implementation—largely existing as ideals and blueprints for deep, globally shared common agreement. That is, we all agree education, health, and equality have value, but we lack common units for understanding who and who is not contributing value—leaving us to fumble in our own, uncoordinated siloes as we chase the phantoms of impact. In essence, we lack common currencies for our common agreements.

Now we find ourselves at the nexus of the real paradigm of Blockchain, allowing us to fuse economics with inherent value by proving the participation of some great human effort, then quantifying the impact of that effort in unforgeable and decentralized ledgers. It allows us to build economic models for tomorrow, that create wholly new markets and economies for and around each of the richest of human endeavors.



In late 2017 at the height of the Bitcoin bubble, without individual coordination, planning, or the help of institutions, almost $1 trillion was infused into blockchain markets. This is remarkable, and the revolution has only just begun. When you realize that Blockchain is in a similar stage of development as the internet pre-AOL, you will see a glimpse of the global transformation to come.



Only twice in the information age have we had such a paradigm shift in global infrastructure reform—the computer and the internet. While the computer taught us how to store and process data, the Internet built off that ability and furthered the conversation by teaching us how to transfer that information. Blockchain takes another massive step forward—it builds off the internet, adding to the story of information storage and transfer—but, it teaches us a new, priceless and not yet understood skill: how to transfer value.



This third wave kicked off with a rough start—as happens with the birth of new technologies and their corresponding liberties. Blockchain has, thus far, been totally unregulated. Many, doubtless, have taken advantage. A young child, stretching their arms for the first couple times might knock over a cookie jar or two. Eventually, however, they learn to use their faculties—for evil or for good. As such, while it’s wise to be skeptical at this phase in blockchain’s evolution, it’s important not to be blind to its remarkable implications in a post-regulated world, so that we may wield its faculties like a surgeon’s scalpel—not for evil or snake-oil sales, but for the creation of more good, for the flourishing of commonwealth.

But what of the volatility in blockchain markets? People agree Bitcoin has value, but they don’t understand why they are in agreement, and so cryptomarkets fluctuate violently.  Stable blockchain economies will require new symbolic gold standards that clearly articulate why someone would agree to support each market, to anchor common agreement with stability. The more globally shared these new value standards, the better.

Is education more valuable than gold? What about healthcare or nutrition or clean water?


We set out in 2018 to prove a hypothesis—we believe that if you back a cryptocurrency economy with a globally agreed upon inherent value like education, you can solve for volatility and stabilize a mature long lasting cryptomarket that awards everyone who adds value to that market in a decentralized way without the friction of individual partnerships.

What if education was a new gold standard?

And what if this new Learning Economy had protocols to award everyone who is helping to steward the growth of global education?



Education is a mountain. Everyone takes a different path to the top. Blockchain allows us to measure all of those unique learning pathways, online and in classrooms, into immutable blockchain Learning Ledgers.

By quantifying the true value of education, a whole economy can be built around it to pay students to learn, educators to create substantive courses, and stewards to help the Learning Economy grow. It was designed to provide a decentralized way for everyone adding value to global education to coordinate around the commonwealth without the friction of individual partnerships. Imagine the same for healthcare, nutrition, and our environment?



Imagine a world where we can pay refugees to learn languages as they find themselves in foreign lands, a world where we can pay those laid off by the tide of automation to retrain themselves for the new economy, a world where we can pay the next generation to prepare themselves for the unsolved problems of tomorrow.



Imagine new commonwealth economies that alleviate the global burdens of poverty, disease, hunger, inequality, ignorance, toxic water, and joblessness. Commonwealths that orbit inherent values, upheld by immutable blockchain protocols that reward anyone in the ecosystem stewarding the economy—whether that means feeding the hungry, providing aid for the global poor, delivering mosquito nets in malaria-ridden areas, or developing transformative technologies that can provide a Harvard-class education to anyone in the world willing to learn.


These worlds are not out of reach—we are only now opening our eyes to the horizons of blockchain, decentralized coordination, and new gold standards. Even though coordination is the last of the seventeen sustainable development goals, when solved, its tide will lift for the rest—a much-needed rocket fuel for global prosperity.

“Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair.”  —George Washington
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.