Our Strategic Vision

BFS’ Global Civic Engagement and Social Impact

Brooklyn Friends School has always been on the cutting edge of issues of the day and the current work of Global Civic Engagement and Social Impact is right on time. Led by Director of Global Civic Engagement and Social Impact, Kevin Murungi, BFS students and colleagues have been working on—and will continue to work on—many exciting projects and initiatives. All of them are directly aligned with BFS’ Strategic Vision—For BFS, For Brooklyn, For the World.

The Social Justice Incubator (pilot program)

The office of Global Civic Engagement and Social Impact was excited to introduce the Social Justice Incubator in the Upper School earlier this school year. The Social Justice Incubator is designed to facilitate support for student ideation, research, project design, action, advocacy,  and impact on social justice issues that students are passionate about. Informed by student proposals, the Social Justice Incubator is providing guidance and seed funding for student-led initiatives designed to sustainably address the most pressing local, national, and global challenges. Five thoughtful student group projects have been selected and students are currently ideating and in the beginning stages of designing prototypes to join the movements to address their issue. The five projects in process are:

    • Food Justice / Food Security – Linked to the idea to create a community garden and fridge at Brooklyn Friends School
    • Contributing to addressing hate speech with a focus on creating an online web-based resource that would support teens with the tools to navigate anti-semitism
    • Houselessness focused project and partnership with local shelters
    • Understanding and improving access to obstetric and gynecological care for migrant women in New York City
    • Support for people in NYC shelters – Looking into the lack of resources for both migrant and local residents in the shelter system and working to fill some of the gaps, particularly supporting elementary education for children in shelters
Experiential Education for Social Impact – Program to Washington DC

We will be running an experiential learning program in Washington DC, open to students in grades 9-11. The program will run from May 3-5, 2024. This unique learning experience, designed by the office of Global Civic Engagement and Social Impact in collaboration with Atlas Workshops, will be centered on the exploration of the history and intersectionality of Black and Jewish solidarity in the fight for civil rights and social justice.

Global Civic Engagement and Social Impact portion of Ninth Grade Seminar

In 9th Grade Seminar, students are introduced to the values and practices of the Brooklyn Friends School community. Students learn principles of Wellbeing; Quakerism; DEB; GCESI; and Study Skills. Students’ understanding of the core concepts are assessed through discussions, written reflections, group projects, and presentations. For the GCESI component of the class, students engage in learning, research and action and impact oriented project work on social justice issues that they identify and are passionate about. The projects serve as a laying of the groundwork for long term campaigns on those issues, with the intention of joining movements for effective policy action and change. This year, students have focused on gun violence prevention, houselessness, and fair and equitable access to higher education.

Sixth Grade Seminar

The Sixth Grade Seminar course is guided by the Social Justice Team. Designed to meet the developmental needs of sixth grade students, the seminar provides a brave space to build a foundation for students to explore social justice concepts, issues, and their agency within those issues. As a result of this work, students develop necessary critical thinking competencies and to see inequality and injustice and to respond to historical and contemporary issues relevant to students’ present day lives. The seminar course spotlights varied issues within social justice – among them: exploring identity, environmentalism, voting, gender and disability rights and youth activism. The seminar nurtures students to think expansively about the social world culminating in an exploration of a social justice issue they care about to design a way to amplify awareness in our community. The seminar centers student voice, dialogue, creativity and design thinking.

Second Grade Changemakers Unit

Kevin worked with the 2nd grade teaching colleague team on their excellent changemakers unit. In this unit we highlighted many courageous activists, both individual people and groups who have sought to implement change against injustice at different points in history. Several different topics were covered, from Civil Rights to Women’s Rights, from Workers’ Rights to LGBTQIA+ Rights and Climate Justice and Advocacy. This unit resonates deeply with Second Graders who are intrinsically interested in ideas of fairness and justice. We had many wonderful conversations and came to discover how we can fight for the freedoms of all. Kevin was excited to meet with students and also to bring in a climate advocate to speak to students.

Supporting students on C.A.S. Projects

Working with groups of students on Creativity Activity and Service projects. CAS is a key component of the International Baccalaureate diploma program. CAS is also very much aligned with BFS values and mission. As such, we view CAS less with a lens of “fulfilling a requirement” and more as another hallmark of what it means to be a BFS student, one that we hope to extend to other grades in the future. Kevin supports groups of 11th and 12th students with their projects related to the service part of CAS.

Professional development

Lead internal and external professional development in Global Civic Engagement and Social Impact. A recent example: Kevin co-presented at the Global Education Benchmark Group (GEBG) annual global educators conference. The presentation was entitled, Teaching and Learning for Social Justice, Global Engagement, and Impact With An Arts-Integrated Lens. The goal of this session was to share strategies and examples of arts integration used to build student capacity in understanding global civic engagement, social justice, and social impact. A Learning for Justice framework that calls for creative interdisciplinary collaboration on curricular content was used as a guiding theory, along with arts integration philosophy. Kevin also moderated a panel discussion: Partnering for Intercultural Competence: How Dialogue Unites Global and DEIB Efforts to Improve Our World.

This is just the start! GCESI plans larger engagements for BFS learning communities and will never slow down on doing the right thing at BFS, Brooklyn, and throughout the world.