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Who commissioned the research? 

The research was commissioned by UWC International. 

Why was the research commissioned? 

UWC International chose to commission the study to gain empirical evidence about the impact of its mission-driven educational model, and by extension, to better understand how global education as a whole can work to develop citizens who will go on to shape a more peaceful and sustainable future for all.

Although other research studies have investigated UWC’s impact before, this is the first longitudinal study of its kind in the history of the UWC movement, involving repeated observations of the same variables over a period of time. 

Who was involved in the research team? 

The study was conducted by The Good Project team at Project Zero, which is a major research institute at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The team of researchers included Dr. Shelby Clark (Senior Research Manager), Danny Mucinskas (Project Manager), Sarah Magagna (Research Assistant), Katie Abramowitz (Research Assistant), and was led by Professor Howard Gardner, Principal Investigator of the study and Senior Director of Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. 

Why Project Zero and the Good Project? 

Project Zero is a major research institute at Harvard University. For 50 years it has conducted research into the arts, the nature of intelligence, understanding, thinking, creativity, cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural thinking, and ethics. Through their research projects, they work towards a more enlightened educational process and system that prepares learners well for the world that they will live, work and develop in.

The Good Project is one of the endeavours at Project Zero. It promotes excellence, engagement, and ethics in education, preparing students to become good workers and good citizens who contribute to the overall well-being of society. Through research-based concepts, frameworks and resources, researchers seek to help students reflect upon the ethical dilemmas that arise in everyday life and give them the tools to make thoughtful decisions.

We chose to work with Project Zero because of their deep expertise in educational research with a particular focus on good citizenship, ethical behaviours, collaboration, and overall contributions of individuals towards creating a good society. These are the kinds of leadership attributes that we believe our students are called to embody at UWC. 

How many people took part in the study?

The study involved 4,834 UWC students, 6,894 UWC alumni and 214 staff members from across all 18 UWC schools and colleges. It also involved 1,830 students from 13 non-UWC schools for comparison purposes. 

Which UWC schools took part? 

All 18 schools and colleges in the UWC movement took part in the study.

Who were the non-UWC schools that took part in the study?

A sample of 13 non-UWC schools around the world, with similar features to UWC, were included for comparison purposes. They chose to remain anonymous. 

In order to explore a wide range of educational programmes and practices, and to contribute to knowledge about “best practices” in international education (as well as education more generally), the research team sought a diverse set of schools. In addition to seeking schools that covered a broad geographic area, they sought out internationally-oriented independent schools that displayed some combination of the following:

  • A diverse student body (in terms of national/cultural, socioeconomic, and religious backgrounds)
  • The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme or a similar academic programme
  • A residential/boarding element
  • A strong mission with a set of core values
Which student cohorts were interviewed as part of the study? 

The study involved two cohorts of International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) students, who were surveyed, interviewed and observed at different points between the start of their UWC journey through to their UWC graduation. One cohort included students graduating in 2020, and the other one included students graduating in 2021, both of which were taught during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

What methodology was used? 

The study is based on longitudinal data involving anonymous surveys, semi-structured interviews, and visits and observations at UWC schools and colleges. For more information about the methodology of the study, click here

Is this the first study on the impact of UWC? 

Over the years, there have been other studies that have explored the impact of a UWC education on its students and alumni, and their impact on the world. However, this particular study involved repeated observations of the same variables over a period of time, making it the first longitudinal study of its kind in the history of the UWC movement. This means that it explored the impact of a UWC education on students as they experienced it, while also incorporating the reflections of alumni and non-UWC students. 

How was the study funded?

The study was partially funded by UWC International, with the majority of the funding coming from anonymous UWC donors. 

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