At the height of the Cold War, German educator Kurt Hahn conceived of an idea to halt conflict caused by racial, religious, and cultural misunderstanding. He surmised that if 16- to 18-year-olds from around the world could come together in a transformative educational setting, they would learn from one another and gain understanding and compassion.
In 1962, the first United World College opened in South Wales, bringing high school students from many different countries to live and learn together. Today, there are 12 United World Colleges on five continents, educating students from 180 countries. To date, more than 40,000 students have studied at UWC. They carry with them the values that help them effectively work for positive change in the world.
Our Work Has Just Begun
In the late 1990s, Shelby Davis, a longtime patron of UWC, and Philip Geier hoped to advance international understanding even further by bringing UWC graduates to the United States to study at selected colleges and universities.
They developed a strategy built on two assumptions:
- That promising future leaders from all cultures should be given greater educational opportunities at American colleges and universities.
- That those same American institutions of higher education could become better communities for learning if their student bodies became more internationally diverse and reflective of the real world around them.
In 2000, they launched a scholarship program that provided grants to selected American colleges and universities to support United World College graduates who matriculated at these schools. The first schools in the pilot group were Colby College, College of the Atlantic, Middlebury College, Princeton University, and Wellesley College.
Davis offered to provide need-based scholarships for every UWC graduate who gained acceptance and then matriculated at these pilot schools, regardless of national origin or UWC attended. This remains the case for these five inaugural schools.
Beginning with the fall 2004 student matriculation, the Davis United World College Scholars Program greatly expanded to over 90 American colleges and universities. Davis philanthropy partners with these schools to meet the financial needs of their scholars throughout their four-year undergraduate degree programs.