When handpicked students from St. John’s Prep touch down in Delhi, India, this summer as part of the school’s Global Education Program, they will have alumnus Art Coviello ’71 to thank for the opportunity. The cybersecurity expert has made a $1 million gift to endow a directorial post at the Prep’s Center for Mission and Research (CMR), which will lead the rigorous study-abroad program in the capital of what is now the world’s populous country.
The CMR promotes inquiry and action within any of four interdisciplinary academic centers that focus on prominent, pressing and consequential global issues: Environmental Sustainability, Global Health and Wellness, Justice and Peace and Innovation and Design. The Center’s vision is to build ethical leadership capacity and produce confident graduates who’ve learned about themselves, the world and their place in it through a wider lens. Coviello’s donation will permanently endow the Center’s Director of Justice and Peace position.
“I’ve seen the wonderful benefits of technology, but I’ve also seen the flip side where, in a lot of instances, it has dehumanized us,” said Coviello, who was named the 29th Distinguished Alumnus honoree in school history in 2021. “We’re now more likely to communicate with someone halfway around the world than we are with our neighbors. At the same time, we’re more insular than ever. I think the broader education and the softer skills that are taught or made available through the Center are incredibly important. It’s about developing a sense of self and self-worth, and becoming a person who has purpose in life beyond what they see and read online.”
Students in this summer’s program were selected via an application process. Participants will employ the international Design for Change educational framework, the largest global movement for change by youth, to the UN Sustainable Development Goals in order to facilitate their engagement in issues of peace and justice that impact both the U.S. and the Prep’s partners in India. St. John’s students will work side-by-side with students at the Shiv Nadar School in Metro Delhi to co-create human-centered solutions for the social challenges identified through the summer curriculum.
The program is designed to empower students from both schools to question assumptions, develop empathy and understanding, recognize our shared humanity, and learn about community development and global citizenship. Students will also visit multiple community organizations in the region for a firsthand look at the manner in which India is addressing its most pressing problems.
"This gift affirms the interdisciplinary work of the Center in terms of deepening student learning in ways that allow them to contribute to building a more just world,” said Chris Bauer, the Center’s Art Coviello ’71 Director of Justice and Peace. “Ultimately, the primary question is, ‘How do we form peace-builders?’ How do we plant seeds in students such that they go on to build peace in their communities, or globally? Not even necessarily as a primary part of their career, but as a part of who they are as individuals.”
Accepted applicants to the Center’s additional, on-campus programs during the school year can pursue original research and complete a year-long seminar supporting that process. Studying thesis-driven issues during individual research and domestic trips, those students ultimately produce a published volume within the Advanced Research Capstone program, a culminating academic and intellectual experience for graduating seniors resulting in a multifaceted body of work.
The school’s CMR also features a second endowed position—the Shaw Family Director of Innovation and Design—made possible by a gift of similar size from Scott and Joanne Shaw. Originally slated to launch in the summer of 2020, the Center’s study-abroad program was conducted virtually in tandem with the Prep’s global partners for the past two years.
School leadership, families, friends, and donors of the Prep are keenly aware that the world is smaller, its problems are more complex, and human beings are more dependent upon one another. Mountains of research suggest that students who can comfortably work, learn and collaborate outside their individual knowledge silos are going to be the most successful.
“We know we can’t meet challenges in a vacuum, and we can’t develop comprehensive solutions without considering far-reaching cause and effect,” said St. John’s Head of School Dr. Ed Hardiman. “We want to instill a values compass and the vision students need to help make a difference. Accordingly, we’re actively expanding the framework, resources and entities that make up our student experience.”