International Day of Education Featuring Dustin Liu, 2020-2021 9th UNA-USA Youth Observer to the UN

For International Day of Education, UNA-USA is featuring Dustin Liu, UNA-USA’s 9th Youth Observer to the UN. Read about how his role as former Youth Observer has served him in the education space, what motivates him to advocate and what he looks forward to in terms of education, the U.S. and UN.

“Since serving as Youth Observer, I’ve continued to focus my attention on transforming student experiences. Today, I am a Lecturer & Fellow at the Stanford Life Design Lab. The Life Design Lab applies design thinking to tackling the “wicked” problems of life and vocational way finding. We teach courses on campus, share this work with other institutions through trainings and also conduct research on ways we can inspire students to move through ambiguity with more agency, hope and curiosity”

What parts of education are you passionate to advocate for?

“I don’t see education limited to what happens within our schooling institutions but rather recognize learning happening in all spaces of our lives. I am passionate about creating opportunities for lifelong learning and encouraging the idea that regardless of where we are in our lives, we can continue to grow and develop. In many ways, this can tie to workforce development which is an area that I am deeply passionate about in our increasingly ambiguous world.”

What motivates your commitment to education advocacy?

“I believe in the power of education and learning. From my own family’s story of how higher education opened doors for my immigrant parents, I know that education is directly connected to the concepts of opportunity. I have seen the impact that positive and hope-filled educators have on young people and continue to see education as a vehicle to build the heart centered change leaders we need in our world.”

What current advocacy actions or projects are you working on?

“After my term as the Youth Observer, I have still continued to engage with young people and educators on the work of the SDGs in support of multilateral collaboration. In my current work, I am finding deep alignment between design thinking and the work of moving towards a more just and sustainable world.”

What hopes do you have for education and how can UNA-USA members work towards more equitable and fair education? 

“I hope every UNA-USA member sees education and learning showing up in areas outside of our schools. With that perspective, each of us has the ability and responsibility to find ways we can advocate, facilitate and take ownership for what education looks like in our communities.”