PMP389: Building a Systems Transformation Pathway with Naheed Bardai

Naheed Bardai is the Principal of UWC Atlantic and arrived in south Wales in August 2021 from Upper Canada College in Toronto, where he was head of upper school for six years. Before that, he served as dean of students and senior school principal during his 10 years at the Aga Khan Academy in Mombasa, Kenya. For Naheed, education is a deeply moral endeavor and the exercise of leadership demands a thoughtful, ethical foundation. His own rests on the tenets of pluralism, integrity, generosity and trust. He holds a Bachelor degree in Business Administration from the Western University, Canada; a Bachelor degree in Education from the University of British Columbia, Canada; Masters of Arts from the Institute of Education, University College London, UK; Masters of Educational Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University, USA.

Naheed was a past guest discussing the Chat GPT. You can find that episode, PMP333, here.

In this episode, William D. Parker interviews Principal Naheed Bardai about the new Systems Transformation Pathway at UWC Atlantic. Listen to the entire conversation for great takeaways. 

Questions we explore:

  1. Please tell us a little more about UWC Atlantic and its unique opportunities and offerings for students.
  2. Can you tell us what motivated you toward developing Systems Tranformation Pathway?
  3. What will be the practical outcomes for students who integrate Systems Tranformation Pathway into their curriculum and school experience?
  4. For schools that are International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma Programmes, how have you secured partnerships for Systems Transformation Pathway?
  5. For my listeners who are not in international school or IB programs, what advice might you have for them as they consider innovative programs like this in their own setting?
  6. Any other advice for leaders wanting to lead innovative initiatives in their own school school communities?
  7. How can others stay connected with you or learn more?

Here’s a brief summary:

Students at UWC board in Wales but are from 80+ countries representing multicultural experiences. Seeing the world through the lens of curiosity creates a place of belonging – “to know what I don’t know and ask lots of questions.”

Understanding a vision for the future:

Education should provide what students need for today’s world, helping them navigate changes in global population, climate, urban/rural developments, and biodiversity. The world today is almost unrecognizable to what it was 30 years ago. We must respond with education approaches that match those challenges.

Looking towards 2050, our high school students today will be in their mid-40s. We must equip them in three areas: 

  1. Peace
  2. Sustainability
  3. Experiential Learning

The complexity of the world requires systems of learning that can bridge the gap students and solutions for the world. Helping them understand systems. Helping them find their place in those systems. Helping them transform those systems.

Systems Transformation Pathway:

UWC has launched Systems Transformation Pathway that is transdisciplinary, collaborative, action-oriented, and intergenerational.

For a student, this means:

  1. Joining a cohort (100 hours of curriculum) – engaging with lessons on economy, climate, narratives, belonging, power, and regenerative leadership (well-being).
  2. Areas of impact (250 hours) – identifying the systems in areas impacting our world, ie, food systems, energy systems, biodiversity (care for nature), and mass human migration.
  3. Applications – 
  • Self-directed interventions in home countries of students who apprentice under someone in one of the systems of impact in their home communities. 
  • Back-at-school collaboration as students implement lessons learned through community-based programs benefiting Wales and local community members.
  • Festival of what works – celebrating, and showcasing what students are learning in line with a competency framework that is outcomes-driven.

Advice for other leaders wanting to begin new initiatives:

  1. Know your why.
  2. Understand what is unique about your school and setting.
  3. Align your values and unique offerings with governance and stakeholder buy-in.
  4. Develop your own systems of transformation.
  5. Combine timing, resources, people, and foresight with a launch.
  6. Set operations in motion to implement while building a team to support with a framework.

Stay connected with Naheed Bardai by visiting the UWC website::


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William D. Parker
William D. Parker