Foresight Prep @ Oberlin offers a rare opportunity for high school students concerned about social and environmental issues to better understand and realize their personal and professional potential, and capacity for positive impact.
Unique amongst sustainability-oriented pre-college program, Foresight Prep prioritizes experiential learning that enables students to create change. By interviewing "real world" leaders, professionals and community activists, and synthesizing their findings into the creation of their own transformative projects, students are equipped with the skills and insights to address urgent and complex problems.
Each seminar is a distinct experience, yet all are designed to integrate five core tenets:
1. INSIGHT INTO SUSTAINABILITY
Students will learn to understand sustainability through a “triple bottom line” approach that balances the creation of environmental, social and economic value. They will begin to understand issues and approaches systemically, including their interdependencies and root causes, and synthesize this information to form their own perspective about how to most effectively address complex challenges.
Through field trips and guest speakers, students will benefit from the perspectives of diverse change-makers—10-15 per seminar, on average—including corporate executives, policy-makers, social entrepreneurs, community organizers and more, in courses facilitated by program faculty who are seasoned practitioners in their fields.
2. LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT
The program builds students’ capacity to affect positive social change by identifying and cultivating their leadership skills and potential. This process is facilitated by an original, informed and holistic leadership curriculum that recognizes the uniquely collaborative and innovative approaches required to confront complex and rapidly evolving problems.
The program strives to make efforts for greater sustainability more equitable and effective through greater inclusion of marginalized individuals and communities. Though sustainability-related challenges affect us all, they have a disproportionate impact on low-income communities and people of color. Unfortunately, the leadership of major organizations and initiatives rarely represent these stakeholders and, as a result, risk neglecting their priorities (source).
Foresight Prep seeks to promote equity by cultivating more inclusive and representative future leadership (low income, students of color, and other historically/currently marginalized groups encouraged to apply), and exposing students to a diversity of perspectives and concerns.
4. COLLEGE AND CAREER PREPARATION
Foresight Prep facilitates students’ personal and professional development in preparation for the next steps in their journey. The program prioritizes experiential learning opportunities over passive instruction. Hands-on projects provide the chance to develop skills for research, interviews and analysis, while classroom discussions focused on the pursuit of meaningful vocations help students reflect upon paths for achieving social impact and personal fulfillment.
Students experience an introduction to college life, living in a picturesque college town, on one the country's most progressive campuses, mentored by current students who serve as Residential/Teaching Assistants. Oberlin Admissions staff are accessible to students, visiting the classroom to provide an insider perspective on the college admissions process, and providing feedback on students' final presentations.
5. NETWORKING & MENTORSHIP
The program recognizes that a two-week experience, while often life changing, can only provide an introduction to self-reflection and complex topics. Prior to the seminar, students participate in a six-week online preparatory curriculum (about four hrs/week). After the seminar, students become part of an ongoing network connecting them with current high school students, undergraduate mentors and established sustainability leaders. Program faculty provide ongoing support to alumni, facilitating connections with professionals in the field; providing feedback on college applications, senior projects and internship experiences; facilitating online "Hangouts" with fellow alumni, and more.