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Why young people are flocking to global health and poverty – a series preview

Michael Thompson

For the past few weeks I’ve been talking to young people, mostly around Seattle, who are involved in global poverty issues. And I’m blown away by the number of initiatives being pursued by people in their 20′s and early 30's.

  • A fellow heading to Mongolia to work on microfinance
  • A young Bengali couple who have started an organization to fund smaller projects that often get ignored
  • A woman who plans to work at the International Criminal Court on women’s issues

Others have noted this before, but my conversations have certainly shown it’s true: There’s something special about this generation, Gen-Y or the Millennials. They are much more internationally aware than many of their older cousins or parents, and they are very socially motivated. Whether it’s starting a business or working through a non-profit, they want to have a social impact.

I’ve written about the networking that’s happening in Seattle, creating more of a shared sense of effort or momentum, through the “Party with a Purpose.” I think the individual stories, of young people who’ve not only gotten involved but are making real progress, are more powerful.

The series begins this week on

The host of the Humanosphere community is Tom Paulson, who spent 22 years reporting on science and medicine at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Tom was one of the first daily news reporters to cover the topic of “global health” (a much-debated label which he discusses the merits of on the Humanosphere website).