Social change through Michigan 4-H Guiding Principles – Part 5: Common purpose

Learn how the principles of 4-H relate to common purpose.

Youth from the 2017 World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute sharing ideas and problem-solving through roundtable discussions.

Youth from the 2017 World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute sharing ideas and problem-solving through roundtable discussions.

In the first article of this series, “Introduction to the Social Change Model for Leadership Development,” we introduced the seven C’s that help frame the Social Change Model of Leadership Development from three different levels: individual values, group values and societal or community values. This next set of articles will further explain each of the seven C’s, how it fits with the Michigan 4-H Guiding Principles and share some Michigan 4-H examples of programming, activities or probing questions you could exercise to engage youth in the Social Change Model of Leadership Development.

To learn more about the Social Change Model of Leadership Development and the seven C’s, check out “A Social Change Model of Leadership Development” by the Higher Education Research Institute.

The next set of three C’s of the model—collaboration, common purpose and controversy with civility—are specifically related to group process values. Let’s discuss common purpose as it relates to the Michigan 4-H Guiding Principles.

Collaborating with others towards a common purpose facilitates the group’s ability to produce a collective analysis of issues and tasks. To best achieve common purpose, an effort must be driven by many voices working with a shared understanding of goals, values and vision. With common purpose, everyone participates actively in the shaping of what that shared purpose is. Working together to identify a common goal, outline a plan for achieving said goal and carrying out that plan collectively is the fifth C of the Social Change Model for Leadership Development: common purpose.

Common purpose is tied to the fifth Michigan 4-H Guiding Principle: youth develop skills that help them succeed. Michigan 4-H defines this principle as experiences and learning opportunities from hands-on educational activities that help youth develop the skills they need to be successful adults.

Some general elements of effectively practicing this guiding principle and helping youth develop the fifth C of the Social Change Model are:

  • Youth identify, develop, practice and articulate their skills.
  • Youth set challenging yet realistic goals; they follow through on their commitments to achieve their best.
  • Youth receive support from adult and teen volunteers, family members, peers and the larger community throughout this process.
  • Youth recognize and celebrate their skills and accomplishments within their own definition of success and mastery.

There are many ways Michigan 4-H helps youth develop and practice common purpose, and though Michigan 4-H’s fifth guiding principle is framed from an individual perspective, we believe the skills youth develop to successfully accomplish their individual goals are related to, if not the same, skills they would need for common purpose.

One example of programming that employs related concepts and helps youth develop common purpose is the World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute. This program is a one-day teen leadership and global citizenship conference that engages youth around the state in networking, dialogues and brainstorming related to global food security and food access. Michigan 4-H connects youth participants through roundtable conversations where they collaborate with peers as well as community and campus faculty members.

The World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute helps youth build an understanding of the ways research and advocacy connect by engaging in hands-on learning experiences with a lab on Michigan State University’s campus. Youth come to the table with an interest in global food security and end the day with contacts, skills and inspiration to continue being “hunger fighters.” The identity of a hunger fighter and their commitment to creating global change is a common purpose.

To learn about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H youth leadership, citizenship and service and global and cultural education programs, read our 2016 Impact Report: “Developing Civically Engaged Leaders.” Additional impact reports, highlighting even more ways Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H have positively impacted individuals and communities in 2016, can be downloaded from the MSU Extension website.

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