Making a Global Impact

On Thursday, March 9th, the University of Dayton was making an impact in Mexico City. Brian LaDuca, Director of the Institute of Applied Creativity for Transformation (IACT) and Amy Anderson, Executive Director at the Center for International Programs, were keynote speakers for the annual Grupo SM conference.

Grupo SM stands for “Group of the Society of Mary” and was established in 1938 by a group of Marianist teachers who collected in volumes their notes and teaching models. Nowadays, the group has become one of the largest Spanish publishing children’s textbook company in the world. Grupo SM has offices in eight Latin American countries and headquarters in Spain. The company’s books are sold in nearly 80 different countries.

Upon a desire to expand their company beyond Spanish speakers, Grupo SM sought to find a similar affiliated institute as they are with the Marianist Society. In 2009, Grupo SM reached out to the University of Dayton, a top 10 ranked Marianist institution, to form a partnership.

Anderson initially worked to bring the collaboration to UD. As a result of frequent exchange visits between both Grupo SM and UD, a group of publishers from the company came to the IACT’s ArtStreet facility during the summer of 2015. Finding the curriculum of the IACT compelling and relatable to the education system reform happening in Mexico, Grupo SM decided to invite LaDuca as a keynote speaker at their conference.

LaDuca and Anderson both were featured for their work at the three-day long conference that focused on finding an innovative design to reform the Mexican education system. Among them, there were roughly 1,000 educators including top-tiered principals, teachers, and other customers. Also in attendance were many officials under Mexican President Enrique Peño Nieta, who were looking for new ideas on a thematic structure that they could present to the president. Mexico has been looking at how they can build a brand new education policy that will transform the model across the globe.

LaDuca’s presentation provided content from the context of the higher-education teaching model at the IACT. He focused his speech around offering tools to these educators that they would be able to take away from the conference. LaDuca wanted to spark actionable ideas for his listeners that made the vision clear for an innovative classroom design by going through the IACT model of ideation, disruption and "A-ha."

One audience member asked LaDuca why this model is happening now. LaDuca responded, “the world is at a point that it is changing, the globe is changing, and what we are doing now has to change for the career lives of students as they change.”

In addition to giving a presentation, LaDuca worked with conference organizers to recreate the IACT’s Creator Space in Mexico City. This allowed for other educators to understand the setup of how the space functions as a collaborative and innovative style of classroom. Every aspect of our own Creator Space in Dayton was replicated and recreated in Mexico; the same materials, style of tables, and even quotations on the walls were implemented as an installation at the conference.

Regarding the overall experience to collaborate with hundreds of other educators about reforming education structure for Mexico, LaDuca commented, “it was a transformative experience for me because, as an American, we typically have a biased view of other countries’ education systems and who is involved. To be at the precipice with a country who is about to change their entire system and to see the excitement in the space with the curiosity for what this could mean for Mexico, that was something very exciting and meaningful to be a part of.”

There is no other university in the nation that has this opportunity to collaborate with Grupo SM. The potential for future exchange between college students in Latin America and students at the University of Dayton is endless. “Grupo SM working with our University of Dayton educators would be a fantastic collaboration. It is time for everyone to collaborate together because this is an untapped opportunity,” said LaDuca.

At the Institute of Applied Creativity for Transformation (IACT) at ArtStreet, we seek to empower a forward-thinking 21st century student with the ability to confidently develop the imaginative and creative skills necessary to excel and impact today’s innovative and global workforce regardless of degree focus. Our mindset of applied creativity stems from transdisciplinary learning (the unity of intellectual frameworks beyond the disciplinary perspectives) and humanity-centered design, harnessing imagination and vision to effectively implement unexpected, innovative ideas that can change the world. For more information about IACT at ArtStreet, call 937-229-5101 or visit go.udayton.edu/iact.

Written by Kiersten Remster '17.

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