Phillip Meng

President, International Association of Young Geographers (IAYG)
Chairman, Global Geography Curriculum Development Programme (GGCDP)

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From the President

Every quarter, Pres. Phillip Meng writes to the people, partners, and supporters of the IAYG, reflecting on past achievements, the IAYG’s vision, and organisational priorities for the IAYG and its global alliances.

As President of the IAYG, I am often asked a simple question – what is the IAYG’s work all about?

In simplest terms, our work is about creating opportunity. As the world becomes closer and more connected, everyone deserves the right to understand their world – building more globally aware, culturally connected, environmentally conscious societies equipped to tackle the world’s toughest challenges. Our leadership in geographic & global education, from organising educational programmes to training educators to leading the development of national-level education policy in geography, is about creating access to that kind of opportunity. It is about building stronger societies connected to the world and empowering young people to succeed in a world defined by accelerating interconnection. Similarly, we believe that young people should have the opportunity to use that global understanding to advance sustainable development – that communities should benefit from a new generation of changemakers. The IAYG and its worldwide alliances’ work in youth community leadership realises that opportunity each and every day.

Beyond creating opportunity, we are steadfast in our commitment to opportunity for everyone. We are not just looking to empower young leaders, we are working to create them. And we always fight for even the most vulnerable children in the world, in the most fractured societies in the world, because no one should be left behind in the twenty-first century. Opportunity should never know geographic, ethnic, or social bounds.

As President, I have been proud to oversee incredible accomplishments in service of this mission. The numbers of students we serve, the number of University Societies we operate, the extent of our publications, the scale and influence of our global partnerships, and so forth have grown immensely – and without a doubt, it is a record to be proud of. But our impact is not about numbers: it is about people. It is about whether a child who never had a geography class can now gain greater access to high-quality global education – one that will help him become a more successful employee, a more active community leader, a more connected global citizen. It is about whether university students and young researchers can have platforms to contribute their ideas to academic disciplines and take action on community issues. It is about whether young people can be empowered to challenge the obstacles that their community faces – whether youth truly feel that with knowledge, they can accomplish anything. And it is about whether people of even the most isolated communities in the world can feel connected to the world around them. Geography and global studies teach us that we are all connected – one interdependent community in one shared world, all working in our little way to make this planet better. And in that way, it does not just teach us where we are, but guides us on how to approach every issue we face. When we remember that we are together facing the same challenges on the same planet, those challenges become smaller.

Despite this incredible record of accomplishment and the IAYG’s scale of work, our journey has only begun. There are still millions of students who lack access to high-quality geographic & global education, millions of young people unengaged in their communities, thousands of communities untouched by the impact of improved education and community involvement. But I am incredibly confident in the road ahead. I am confident because of our boundless determination to empower students & educators. I am confident because of the sheer reach, impact, and influence of this organization. But above all, I am confident because of every one of you – the people, partners, and supporters of our organisation.

Looking back on the last few years, the IAYG’s incredible work has been made possible by you. You have proven that together, this organisation can do anything. As we embark on the next chapter of this journey, I see not just a history of global achievement, but a powerful promise for the road ahead.

Let’s vindicate that promise together.

About the President

Phillip Meng has been the President of the International Association of Young Geographers (IAYG) since its formation, leading the organisation’s expansion to serve students and educators in every part of the world. Originally from San Francisco, California, he is an American. Today, leading the International Association of Young Geographers’ worldwide work, President Meng oversees all aspects of the IAYG’s work in geographic education and the empowerment of young people. He works closely with the IAYG’s Regional Directors and officials from all across the world to work towards a world where any child, anywhere can have access to high-quality geographic education, guided by his firm belief that a global education is critical to connecting societies and tackling the world’s greatest challenges in a global economy. Furthermore, he oversees the IAYG’s Coalition for Young Community Leadership (CYCLE) and the mobilisation of young people to benefit communities.

Previously, President Meng has also served as the President of the National Association of Young Geographers (NAYG) of the United States, which he led from a regional coalition of students and educators to a national organisation in geographic education with affiliated branches across the world. The NAYG is now the IAYG’s branch in the United States and Canada.

As President of the International Association of Young Geographers, Phillip Meng also chairs the International Board of Directors. Furthermore, Mr. Meng also serves as the Chairman of the Global Geography Curriculum Development Programme (GGCDP), one of the IAYG’s flagship efforts, leading Programme Development teams on six continents and the work of the Steering Committee of esteemed geographers from across the world.