High school students from four Brisbane schools have joined Griffith University students for a series of G20-related discussions and debates in a graduate level course on Politics of the Global Economy.

More than 20 students from Corinda State High School, Indooroopilly State High School, Brisbane State High School and Brisbane Grammar School sat alongside Griffith University students for a series of three-hour blended learning sessions.

The innovation is the brainchild of Dr Tapan Sarker at the Griffith Business School.

“Students came into a university setting and took part in debates about issues important to the future,” Dr Sarker said.

“As an academic institution we have a role to play in the community and the G20 Leaders Summit in Brisbane presents a great platform for Griffith to discuss and debate contemporary topics through interactive learning.

“We aim to improve awareness of the role G20 countries play in energy transition with our focus on the challenges of rising energy demand in Australia, and in emerging economies of G20 nations like Brazil, Russia, India, China and Indonesia.

“It is important that students grow into future leaders whose beliefs are backed by informed discussion and debate. Therefore, they were exposed to facts, figures and conflicting opinions.”

Griffith’s latest community outreach initiative fed into the Y20 element of the G20 Leaders Summit. The Y20 is a forum for developing cooperation with the future generation, and provides a platform for young people to voice their needs, opinions and interests on issues relevant to the G20 agenda.

“Covering subjects like migration, globalisation, climate change, international trade, Australia in the global economy, microcredit, foreign aid, urbanisation and climate change, the course had a strong G20 theme,” Dr Sarker said.

The high school students exchanged views with Griffith University students across a range of disciplines including business and government, industrial relations, law, energy systems engineering, environmental management and planning and international management.

“Students’ perceptions of the G20 were gathered, and de-identified, by Griffith researchers during and at the end of the project to inform a topical article in a leading business journal.”

Professor Heidi Dahles, head of the Department of International Business and Asian Studies, welcomed an “excellent” initiative. “It conveys to our students the urgency of positioning issues of clean energy and environmental security as major items on the G20 agenda,” she said.

“This initiative once again demonstrates the particular efforts that Griffith Business School is making in integrating the theme of sustainability into its educational programs.”

Professor Andrew O’Neil, head of School of Government and International Relations, noted that the initiative reflected Griffith’s broader recognition of the strong relationship between the economic rise of Asia and the increasing influence of the G20, which includes global powerhouses, China and India.