Developing International Understanding with Courage

Authored by: Annaliese Filippis and Stefan Fazzino from Ivanhoe Grammar School, Melbourne, Australia


The premise of international understanding is predicated on the Round Square Discovery attribute of courage. This paper will explore this notion and why having courage or acting courageously is a vital attribute in developing and fostering international understanding. Firstly, this report will define courage in this context and then it will explore how it is linked to developing international understanding. In particular, focus will be given to the current and future generations of students and their development in our ever-increasing globalised World. Research data and interviews will show the strong correlation between courage and developing international understanding and the passionate perspective of young people.


For the purpose of this report, courage will be defined in the context of the Round Square Discovery Framework “Round Square Explorers discover in themselves the ability and willingness to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation. Their moral courage enables them to act according to conscience and do “what is right” in the face of popular opposition, shame, scandal, or discouragement”. (Courage, 2018)

The most important element of this definition is the reference to moral courage, which is the capacity to do what is right. It is the belief of this paper that acting according to conscience and doing what is right is critical to the promotion of international understanding, particularly with adolescents.

The further context of courage for this paper is that courage is more than just the moral purpose or capacity to do what is right, it is actively venturing into our broader World both globally and locally to build international understanding through experience, not just talk. Thus, courage in the context of international understanding is very much about being actively involved in being courageous to promote positive global change.

Before research was conducted with students to gain perspective on the links between courage and international understanding, it is first important to further understand why courage is important for students growing up in our globalised world. Based on the definition and context provided above, it is clear that courage is essential as is provides the moral purpose to respond positively and productively to promote international understanding and furthermore, it also lays the foundation for action to promote positive change. In terms of Global Citizenship, which is critical to the promotion of international understanding, an individual’s connection to being a global citizen is typically measured on three levels; knowing, then caring and finally acting. It is easy for an individual to have international understanding, but to actively care about the issue or to act or respond requires much more. Thus, it is the clear finding of this paper that courage is very much critical to international understanding as it is the key attribute that fosters an individual’s capacity to respond to issues and to be positive change makers.


To gain further perspective on this issue, research was conducted with students aged 15-18 years-old through two key methodologies, being a short survey and some interview questions.

A brief interview was conducted with 10 random students asking key questions (see Appendix). Results of these interviews provided the following findings:

A survey was also conducted of 50 Year 11 students (see Appendix). This survey found the following:


From the brief research that was conducted, it was clear that students do rate international understanding as ‘important’, but they believe that their own understanding as ‘low’. Students do connect to the moral purpose of courage in promoting international understanding, but it is clear that opportunities are lacking for practical experiences to enable them to be actively involved. These lack of experiences and connections also fuel a general apathy about taking their international understanding to a more engaged level. Current perception is that students see such involvement as the role of the ‘few’ in the School.


It is clear from this paper that courage is indeed vital to the development of international understanding, but it would appear that due to the need for distinct moral purpose and also action required to really enact positive change, there is some way to go with our young people. Structurally there needs to be a variety of experiences and opportunities for them to engage and learn through practical activities and time for culture to develop which fosters the moral purpose and broader collective action.


Survey Questions

  1. On a scale of 1-10 (10 being highest), how would you rate your level of international understanding?
  2. On a scale of 1-10 (10 being highest), how would you rate Ivanhoe Grammar School students’ level of international understanding (as a collective)
  3. What Ivanhoe Learner attribute is most important in developing international understanding?
  4. What activities or programs could be introduced to further develop students international understanding

Interview Questions (interviewees briefed on courage and links to international understanding)

  1. What activities at Ivanhoe Grammar School promote international understanding?
  2. Do you believe greater courage from students would further promote international understanding at IGS?
  3. How could courage be developed and fostered amongst students?