Nobel Laureates Inspire Chicago's Youth

In April 2012, human rights champions from around the globe came to Chicago for the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates. They spoke with Chicago's young people and helped them understand how one person can change a community -- or the world.


  1. Chicago was chosen as the first U.S. city to host this unique international summit in no small part because of its decision to place students and young people at the center of the conversation.

    "There was a serious commitment on our part to framing the summit to be about youth," Terry Mazany, head of the Chicago Community Trust and co-chairman of the summit host committee, told the Chicago Tribune. "The public schools pitch was unique because we were able to connect Chicago students directly with these extraordinary individuals and world leaders."
  2. In the week before the Summit, the U.S. State Department created virtual exchanges to connect CPS students with young people in Ghana, Zimbabwe, Peru and Algeria via videoconferencing. (Read more about the exchanges below at the State Department's blog and  watch video highlights from the exchange between CPS students and students in Zimbabwe.)
  3. On Monday April 23rd, Nobel Peace Laureates and Peace Prize-winning international organizations fanned out to Chicago Public Schools in neighborhoods across the city to talk with students about peace and human rights.
  4. "It was an unusual day in social studies class at Frederick Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center, a public high school on the North Side of this city," wrote The New York Times. "Monday’s class was taught by a substitute teacher: Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the former president of the Soviet Union."
  5. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and actor Sean Penn also visited Von Steuben and spoke with students there, including the school's valedictorian:
  6. Video: Nobel Laureates Come to Chicago School
  7. Von Steuben students were more than excited to hear from Gorbachev -- they were prepared. In their social studies classes, students at many CPS schools had studied the life and work of Nobel Laureates with Speaking Truth To Power, a special curriculum created by Chicago Public Schools, the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, and the Chicago Teachers Union.
  8. At Lincoln Park High School, students heard from Muhammad Yunus, who pioneered microcredit as a tool to fight poverty. Yunus is the founder of Grameen Bank, which empowers low-income Bangladeshi women by giving them access to credit to start small businesses. 
  9. At Chicago Academy High School, students spoke with F.W. de Klerk, who shared the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela for helping to end the apartheid in South Africa. Afterwards, students shared their thoughts about de Klerk's visit:
  10. At Hancock High School on Chicago's Southwest Side, students met with Frank Mugisha, a Ugandan activist for LGBT rights and winner of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award.