Mock G7 2016 Ise-Shima Summit and Role-Playing Leadership: How Experiential Learning Empowers Generation Z
Relating complex global economic challenges to peoples’ everyday lives requires compelling narratives making an emotional connection about the impact on their lives and the importance of creating one’s own Agency.
By Chestley E. Talley and Kathy M. Graham
What is Experiential Learning?
Experiential Learning takes concepts about academic education out of classrooms into workspaces where knowledge, skills, and competencies are practiced, creating new solutions to tomorrow’s problems, or innovating today’s solutions from yesterday’s successes. Learning by doing starts with Aristotle1: “for the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”

John Dewey2, exponent of Educational Pragmatism, advocated, “Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.” Dewey’s Theory says human beings learn through a “hands-on approach”. Students interact with their environments infusing adaptability, flexibility, and creativity into decision-making.

Andrew Meyers3, Global Head of Experiential Learning for the new Whittle School & Studios in Washington, D.C., describes experiential learning as “personal learning experiences [to] engage learners where they are and build motivation… [connecting] what is learned to what is felt…agency”.

The “progressive” Whittle School combines interdisciplinary and experiential learning with personalized academic advising. Learning becomes relevant and meaningful because the community becomes a classroom more capable of linking local issues to global themes. When students work on projects, reflect on actions and outcomes, and seek feedback, multi-step challenges comprising the learning process build success skills: collaboration, initiative, persistence, critical thinking, and problem-solving. Whittle School experiential activities include work-based and service learning along with “community-connected” simulations.

What is Empowerment?
Fetterman’s4 (1994) concept of an empowerment evaluation fosters self-determination, helping people learn how to help themselves. Empowerment is a change process to support people and communities improving their lives in the places where they live. This strategy has its roots in “community psychology”, a collaborative approach focusing on improvement enabling peoples to establish control over their own affairs, utilizing “training, facilitation, advocacy, illumination, and liberation”—learning how to create Agency. This is the same expected outcome for individuals engaging in experiential learning experiences.

“Two years from now, more than a third (35%) of the desired core skills for most jobs will be those not yet considered crucial in the workplace. These are precisely the skills that Enactus students– our next generation of leaders – gain from Enactus’ experiential learning platform,” says Chris Mills, president, Enactus United States. “Enactus’ student impact studies reveal the Enactus Advantage, data-driven evidence that Enactus students outpace their peers as measured against credible, external benchmarks in key business skills, resilience and leadership. Experiential learning empowers students with new and strengthened skills that align with the top ten skills identified as necessary for work in 2020 and beyond, according to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report.”

What is the connection between experiential learning and empowerment?
David Kolb5, Professor of Organizational Behavior at Case Western Reserve University, is credited with launching the learning styles movement in the seventies. Kolb’s model shows how to understand individual learning styles, and an explanation of an experiential learning cycle for all learners.

With the Kolb Experiential Learning Model6 students perform their own empowerment evaluation from conceptualization to implementation.

  1. Learners enter the cycle at any of the four stages: Experience, Reflection/Discussion, Conceptualization, and Application/Implementation.
  2. Learning is most effective when the learner completes the full cycle.
  3. The process and outcomes all depend on the learner’s [ascribing value, having a purpose, and setting a direction]: “meaning-making”.
    1. Without reflection experience does not teach.
    2. Without conceptualization reflection is just an exercise.
    3. Without experimentation concepts become knowledge without impact.
What is Generation Z?
Bruce Tulgan7, founder and CEO of RainmakerThinking, management research and training firm, introduces Generation Z (Gen Zers) in the workplace:

  • Workers were born between 1990 and 1999 [as late as 2000].
  • Believe in self-expression and may not follow standard work rules or customs.
  • Are less willing to measure themselves against accepted standards.
Country representatives meet in meeting room
Clockwise from left
Bryson Scott: Prime Minister of Japan, Eric Clark: Prime Minister of Italy, Brayan Perez-Mendez: Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Jordan Bradley: President of France, Corey Harris: Prime Minister of Canada, Pilar Makee Lule: Chancellor of Germany, Keilahn Garrett: President of the United States
Joe Clark, Mariclaire Urquidi, Jennifer McCoy, Elroy Johnson, Eduardo Stein
Clockwise from left
Joe Clark: Former Canadian Prime Minster; Mariclaire Urquidi: Former Mexican Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs; Jennifer McCoy: Director of the Carter Center’s Americas Program; Elroy Johnson: SIFE President; Eduardo Stein: Former Vice President of the Republic of Guatemala
In 2017, Sieva Kozinsky8, CEO at StudySoup social learning platform, says Gen Zers embrace social learning environments when they are hands-on and directly involved in the learning process. A study by Barnes and Noble College reported 51% of surveyed students said they learn best by doing, only 12% said they learn by listening:

  • Are career-focused earlier in their college careers.
  • Rebuff passive learning—sitting through a lecture and memorizing notes.
  • Thrive when given the opportunity of a fully immersive educational experience.
Barnes and Noble College9 is partners with 736+ campus bookstores nationwide, serving 5+ million students. Their “Getting to Know Gen Z” Survey explored attitudes, preferences, and expectations about students’ educational and learning experience:

  • Prefer self-learning fueled by personal fulfillment and social impact.
  • Search for authentic and meaningful experiences.
  • Flourish in any learning environment where they can flex their aptitude for self-reliance and ability to self-educate [Agency].
  • View learning as one continuous, multi-faceted, completely integrated experience—connecting social, academic, and professional interests.
  • Value collaboration.
  • Want to be empowered to make own decisions.
What does Role-Playing Leadership mean?
Role-Playing Leadership is a situational exercise with two or more participants characterizing pre-defined qualities, attributes, actions, or styles. Such interaction demonstrates competencies associated with a position, function, job, or responsibility. Role-playing promotes engagement that makes “thinking visible”10: encouraging open discussions and debates while supporting critical and creative thinking encompassing exploration, questioning, and reasoning.
Eric Clark
If it’s true we know a Leader when we see one, what are we seeing?
In 2013, a Blog posting in Professional Development and Training highlighting Andrew J. DuBrin’s11 book of leadership research findings, practices, and skills, suggests: “the ingredients of true leadership aren’t really a mystery… [consisting of] the qualities leaders possess, and …observed…commonalities”. Students embracing self-assessment “begin building the characteristics of a leader” based on general personality traits like self-confidence, humility, trustworthiness, authenticity, enthusiasm, and a sense of humor. DuBrin (2013) lists five “task-related personality traits common to leaders”: passion, emotional intelligence, flexibility and adaptability, internal locus of control, and courage.

Mock Summits and Role-Playing Leadership
Relating complex global economic challenges like skyrocketing National Debt or Brexit ballot referendums to peoples’ everyday lives, requires compelling narratives making an emotional connection about the impact of global themes on local issues affecting individuals personally and grouped within communities.

Glenn Best, Director, CareerWorks for the Newark Alliance (NJ) and Vice Chair, Jarvis Faculty-Employer Advisory Committee, affirms the importance of Experiential Learning:

“Experiential Learning affords students the opportunity to immediately apply knowledge to solve real world challenges in real time. This approach promotes teamwork and communication skills which are sorely needed in today’s 21st Century workplace. It also develops reflective practice habits where students are measuring their own performance and visualize their accomplishments, empowering the Generation Z population to be more fully engaged through active participation.” ”

Replicating actual Nations economic summits by depicting recognized world leaders in settings where experimentation, learning from mistakes, and reflection are welcome, encourages adopting and internalizing transferrable aspects of leadership: personality traits, task-related competencies, styles, and shared demonstrations of leaders evolving individually and as a team.12

G8 Summit 2010
Mock G8 2010 Muskoka (Canada) Summit
Before coming to Jarvis Christian College, our Saint Paul’s College (Lawrenceville, VA) Enactus Team (formerly Students In Free Enterprise, SIFE) conducted a Mock G8 2010 Muskoka (Canada) Summit responding to a community need for innovative ways to teach Virginia’s Standards of Learning for Economics and Personal Finance to high schoolers. Enactus is a global Experiential Learning platform. For the mock SPC G8 summit, students from George Mason University, Brunswick High School, Thomas Nelson Community College, Cross Land High School, South Side Virginia Community College, Hampton University, Saint Paul’s College, and foreign exchange students from China, Germany, Mexico, and Brazil attending Central High School, were the ‘nation leaders’. They discussed economic issues affecting global markets, such as the US recession, housing foreclosures, climate change, job loss, and the interplay between national rights and international responsibilities.

Mock G7 2016 Ise-Shima (Japan) Summit
In 2019, for the sixth year, Jarvis students will participate in the Clinton Global Initiative University, CGI U. “CGI U works to empower the next generation of leaders in addressing a pressing global challenge or issue in their local campus or community,” said Alyssa Trometter, CGI U Deputy Director. “Each year, thousands of students from around the world come together and learn from each other and experts to develop and scale a Commitment to Action – a new, specific, and measurable social impact project, that creates change.”

SPC’s success using a mock G8 summit to create an innovative way to teach economics to high schoolers was the inspiration for us to conduct a mock G7 to answer the challenge of the “Up to Us” National Competition, which “encourages students to create advocacy and awareness campaigns around civic issues like the national debt”, in collaboration with The Peter G. Peterson Foundation and CGI U’s partner organization, Net Impact13.

“Supported by Net Impact, the mission of the Up to Us Competition is to empower the next generation to use their voice to advocate for an economy they want to inherit; one that starts with conversation by bridging the partisan divide. Given our current fiscal outlook, it’s in every American’s interest to have the conversation about our long-term fiscal future. We hope to provide the next generation of leaders the skills and experiences they need to tackle the toughest global problems, including how to get our fiscal outlook back on track.”

Hilary Allen, Senior Programs Associate Net Impact
The Jarvis CGI U Team conducted the Mock G7 2016 Ise-Shima (Japan) Summit to demonstrate the connections between the biggest economies in the world and the impact of national debt on everyday life by advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #8, Good Jobs and Economic Growth.

Both the SPC Mock 2010 G8 and Jarvis Mock 2016 G7 are relatable in 2019 because we know unchecked exponential growth in a Nation’s budget deficits can trigger similar economic issues: recession, job loss, housing devaluations and foreclosures, trade imbalances, uncertainty and currency fluctuations in global markets. The after-effects spread through the economy touching aspects of ordinary lives in its wake—the cost of food, fuel, and clothing; availability, access, and quality of healthcare; cost and quality of education at all levels; and access to safety-net social services.

Mock summits illustrate how this interactive hands-on exercise galvanizes Generation Z students, also known as the “The Sharing Generation”14, by embracing agency-making that motivates themselves and others—developing their own leadership qualities as a contributory outcome.

The Jarvis CGI U Team recruited students from other Campus experiential learning programs to help represent the G7 Leaders: Millennium Fellows, Enactus, and National Association of Black Accountants.

Experiential Learning Closes Soft Skills Gaps
In 2014, after two-years collaborating with Bellevue University surveying 343 US executives familiar with their company’s workforce-development strategies, the Lumina Foundation and The Economist published a Corporate Learning Solutions White Paper entitled “Making the Business Case for Soft Skills”15.

“Soft skills need an integrated approach. Nothing works in isolation, and each needs careful design. The right sort of on-the-job learning and peer reflections on a shared experience is necessary.”

Survey Respondent, Open Comments
One finding:
“The overwhelming consensus among employers is that too many graduates lack critical-thinking skills and the ability to communicate effectively, solve problems creatively, work collaboratively, and adapt to changing priorities.”16

The structure of role-playing scenarios like mock summits contextually makes soft skills easier for Generation Z students to learn-by-doing. Success skills like interpersonal communication, teamwork, professionalism, public speaking, collaboration, and critical thinking are practiced when participants come together to analyze global and national economic data, compose scripts for each G7 Leader, perform the roles of recognized World Leaders, and create visual representations of issues, strategies, or policy directives.

This interactive face-to-face multi-step process appeals to Gen Zers’ preferences for challenging projects, integrating social impact with academic self-education and meaningful experiences to build self-reliance.

Tangible Outcomes Empower Generation Z
Because of effective experiential learning initiatives, we are attracting Fortune 500 companies with empowering opportunities for Jarvis students, including:

  • Internships & Employment: Microsoft Corporation, Oncor Electric, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Grant Thornton, Johnson & Johnson.
  • Externships: Target Corporation, H-E-B Grocery Company, Fidelity Investments.
  • Leadership Programs: Goldman Sachs, Hallmark, Inc., RSM International, BNY Mellon.

The synergy of experiential learning and student empowerment also was witnessed by Saint Paul’s College student Elroy Johnson, who participated in The State of Democracy in the Americas distinguished panel discussion at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Center after staging the Mock G8.

So, what now?17
The answer is more experiential learning: internships, externships, career exploration field trips, career readiness workshops, and untold “new” opportunities!

Experiential Learning
  1. Aristotle,
  2. John Dewey,
  4. Fetterman, D. M. (1994). Empowerment evaluation. Evaluation practice, 15(1), 1-15.
  5. Source:
  6. Source:
  7. Bruce Tulgan, author of “Bridging the Soft Skills Gap: How to Teach the Missing Basics to Today’s Young Talent” (Jossey-Bass, 2015).
  8. Kozinsky, S. (2017). How generation Z is shaping the change in education. Retrieved 2nd August.
  9. Zimmer, C. (2017). Getting to Know Gen Z–Exploring Middle and High Schoolers’ Expectations for Higher Education.
  10. Ritchhart, R., Church, M., & Morrison, K. (2011). Making thinking visible: How to promote engagement, understanding, and independence for all learners. John Wiley & Sons.
  11. Andrew J. DuBrin,
  12. Anderson, R. J., Adams, W. A., & Adams, B. (2015). Mastering leadership: An integrated framework for breakthrough performance and extraordinary business results. John Wiley & Sons.
  14. Kozinsky, S. (2017). How generation Z is shaping the change in education. Retrieved 2nd August.
  17. Mr. Chestley E. Talley, Cell: (804) 721-7755, Email: