Catalyst is growing a community of adolescents and educators from across the Americas who are committed to exploring, expressing and advocating for their visions of a more just, inclusive and peaceful society.
Catalyst is a year-long, bilingual (English/Spanish) fellowship program for high-school students from communities affected by the War on Drugs and their teachers.
Over the course of the year student-teacher teams from across the Americas will come together both online and in-person to exchange their experiences, build knowledge and generate strategies of resistance and transformation.
The fellowship is designed to equip each student-educator team with:
a critical, transnational understanding of the War on Drugs
tools to foster productive, intergenerational collaboration
new artistic skills to explore, express and transform their experience of the War on Drugs
skills to launch local arts-based initiatives of their own design that respond to the negative impacts of the War on Drugs within their communities
creative strategies to bring back knowledge about the War on Drugs into their classrooms, schools and wider community.
The Catalyst 2019 fellowship consists in three phases:
Applications from student-teacher teams to the Catalyst 2019 fellowship will be by invitation only. Full, need-based financial aid is available for all fellows. If you are interested in nominating a student-teacher team for the Catalyst 2019 fellowship, please contact us.
Take a glimpse at the incredible learning and insight that emerged from Catalyst 2018:
Phase 1: E-learning (April-June, 2019)
Before arriving in Mexico, Catalyst fellows will gain a basic knowledge of the War on Drugs through our newly developed e-learning courses. With the generous support of the Enlight Foundation, Catalyst is excited to be collaborating with the Crew Platform on developing and launching our e-learning materials and online community.
EDUCATOR FELLOWS (12 HOURS)
Through a 6 module course, educator fellows will gain a basic knowledge of drugs, drug policy and the history and politics of the War on Drugs as it has been waged across the Americas, while learning innovative pedagogical strategies for bringing a difficult topic like the War on Drugs into the classroom.
STUDENT FELLOWS (20 HOURS)
Through a 10 module course, student fellows will gain a basic knowledge of drugs, drug policy and the history and politics of the War on Drugs as it has been waged across the Americas. Student fellows will also be guided through the initial steps of articulating the community project that they will work on for duration of the fellowship.
In the event that fellows do not have regular access to computers or internet, an off-line version of the e-learning curriculum will be made available to them.
Phase 2: In-person Incubator (July 2019)
Dates: July 1 - 21, 2019
Location: Tepoztlán & Mexico City, Mexico
Over the course of their three-week incubator, students will deepen their knowledge of the War on Drugs and learn how the conflict has affected the Hemisphere. Student fellows will build community organizing and advocacy skills via workshops, arts programming and guest lectures from local activists. Once the educator fellows arrive, student fellows will work collaboratively with them to further develop and refine action plans for the community projects they will launch upon their return home.
Dates: July 8-20, 2019
Location: Tepoztlán & Mexico City, Mexico
Over the course of their two-week incubator, educator fellows will work in parallel to their student fellows to deepen their knowledge of the War on Drugs, to explore how the Catalyst curriculum can be adapted to their specific educational setting and to learn how to be more effective adult allies to their students. During collaborative sessions, each educator will work with their student to develop and refine an action plan for the community project that they will launch upon their return home.
Both incubators will culminate in a collaborative exhibition in Mexico City featuring the work generated by both student and educator fellows
The Catalyst 2019 incubators will take place in Tepoztlán, Mexico. Tepoztlán is a small and charming colonial town an hour's drive south from Mexico City. Known for its tranquility and safety, Tepoztlán is home to an ancient archeological site, a beautiful ex-convent and many breathtaking hikes.
The student incubator will take place at Casa Cueyatlan, a comfortable, gated facility with ample green space, a swimming pool, a common eating area and four residential buildings. Male and female participants will be housed in different buildings. Gender non-conforming students will be accommodated according to their preference. The location of the educator incubator is TBD, but will be in close proximity to the student incubator.
During the last weekend of the program, fellows will travel to Mexico City to present their final exhibition to the public and to take in some of the city's rich cultural landscape. From the time that students are met by facilitators at the airport upon their arrival in Mexico they will be under adult supervision.
Phase 3: Community Project Implementation (2019-2020)
After the in-person incubators, student-teacher teams will return to their communities and launch the community projects they developed in Mexico.
Educator fellows will experiment with adapting portions of the Catalyst curriculum to their classrooms and developing new lessons plans using the skills they honed during the incubator.
All fellows will join an active and dynamic online community that will facilitate keeping in touch with their peers, providing updates on their projects and sharing information and opportunities to get further involved with the drug policy reform movement.
Ongoing support will be provided to fellows upon their return home in the form of additional e-learning modules, webinars, speaking opportunities, access to seed grant funding, etc.
The Catalyst Team
Theo Di Castri - Benjamin Fogarty Valenzuela - Nataya Friedan - Atenea Rosado Viurques
Aida Conroy - Theo Di Castri - Benjamin Fogarty-Valenzuela - Nataya Friedan - Diana Rodriguez Gomez - Atenea Rosado Viurques - Camila Ruiz Segovia
David Aristizabal - Ana Cureño - Melina Davis - Theo Di Castri - Nataya Friedan - Marco Guagnelli - Serena Hughley - Suleica Pineda -Justin Oswald - Rebeca Roa - Diana Rodriguez Gomez - Camila Ruiz Segovia - Guiet Zuun
Catalyst grew out of a series of conversations between a group of friends from across the Americas. Albeit for different reasons and from different disciplines, our university careers had lead us to study drugs, drug users, drug policy and drug related violence. Looking back on the drug education we had received as teenagers, we shared a common frustration about the lack of information and space we had been given to grapple with the full complexity of the issues that surround drugs and drug policy.
Why had it taken us getting into university to access the histories and the critical analyses of the War on Drugs that had finally helped us begin making sense of the ways in which drugs operated within our different communities? Why did our drug education focus purely on considerations of individual use without including analysis of the sociopolitical dimensions of drugs, drug users and the policies that govern them? Why had we not been encouraged to think about the transnational drug supply chain and the effects of our governments' drug policies upon different parts of the world?
We set about imagining the drug education curriculum we wished we had been taught when we were in high school--a curriculum grounded in social justice; a transnational curriculum that provides students with a framework to understand seemingly disparate phenomena in different parts of the world as connected; and a curriculum that moves beyond moral dogma and taboo to give young people a space to ask honest and difficult questions about a topic that is often off-limits. The result was Catalyst.
UWC (United World Colleges) is a global education movement that makes education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future.
The Catalyst team works under the auspices of the United World Colleges. The United World Colleges (UWC) movement has been at the forefront of international education since it was founded during the Cold War in 1962. The movement has brought together several thousand students from different nations and backgrounds within stimulating, critical learning environments that push them to rethink their cultural biases and grapple first hand with the complexities of the globalized world.
Central to the ethos of UWC is the belief that education can bring together young people from all backgrounds on the basis of their shared humanity, to engage with the possibility of social change through courageous action, personal example and selfless leadership. To achieve this, UWC schools, colleges and short courses all over the world deliver a challenging and transformational educational experience to a deliberately diverse group of young people, inspiring them to become agents of positive change in line with UWC’s core values:
International and intercultural understanding
Celebration of difference
Personal responsibility and integrity
Mutual responsibility and respect
Compassion and service
Respect for the environment
A sense of idealism
Action and personal example
In order to extend its values and mission to a wider audience, UWC offers short courses such as Catalyst that focus on a variety of themes from youth leadership to sustainability, from conflict/post-conflict to migration, gender and cross cultural understanding. In accordance with the UWC ethos that education should be independent of the student’s socioeconomic means, Catalyst guarantees full, need-based financial aid to all participants.
UWC fosters a lifelong commitment to social responsibility and, to date, it has inspired a worldwide network of more than 60,000 alumni, who believe it is possible to take action and make a difference locally, nationally and internationally.
Please don't hesitate to get in touch with us with any questions or concerns. We are also always on the look out for collaborations with schools and teachers who are interested in working with our curriculum. Likewise, if you are interested in mentoring a Catalyst student, drop us a line.