In this era of interconnection, disconnection, and rapid change, it is vitally important to offer young people opportunities to dialogue and build understandings with peers from different backgrounds. Out of Eden Learn is a free online program for students aged 3-19 that has so far served over 30,000 students in 60 countries. On Out of Eden Learn’s custom built, social media platform, students of similar ages from diverse geographical and socioeconomic settings come together for collective learning experiences. The program currently offers several 8-12-week long learning experiences, or “learning journeys,” designed around three broad learning goals. All of the journeys combine offline activities with online interaction and invite young people to: 1) slow down to observe the world carefully and listen attentively to others; 2) exchange stories and perspectives with one another; and 3) make connections between their own lives and bigger human stories. Out of Eden Learn is also an active research project that examines such themes as students’ conceptions of culture, the character of their online interactions, and what they learn when they slow down to observe the world closely both with and from one another. Out of Eden Learn began in 2013 as an experimental collaboration with journalist and National Geographic Fellow Paul Salopek, whose Out of Eden Walk involves him retracing on foot the migratory pathways of our ancient human ancestors around the world. It has since evolved into a promising model for promoting thoughtful cross-cultural inquiry and exchange, drawing inspiration from the ways in which Salopek and other writers and artists combine “slow journalism” with local and global storytelling.


January 2016 Walking Parties

Students from around the world are connecting online. Out of Eden Learn launches new learning groups this month. Sign up today! 

An Introduction to Out of Eden Learn

I learned that everything is related to and interacts with each other. Nothing and Nobody can exist without others.
- Out of Eden Learn student, Z.Z, Shanghai, China

Out of Eden Learn White Paper

A resource from Out of Eden Learn

Youth Neighborhood Maps from Around the World

Youth Neighborhood MapTo date, Out of Eden Learn has reached over 20,000 students in 55 countries. Its social media-like platform of brings classes of similarly-aged students from diverse geographical and socioeconomic contexts together into online learning groups. The groups, which consist of roughly 6-8 classrooms, follow a 12-week curriculum that combines locally-based offline activities with online interaction. In one activity, students make maps of their neighborhood or local areas, which they post on the platform to share with their online peers. The instructions are simple and open-ended: Students can draw their maps in any way they want, as long as they don’t use images from Google Maps or similar mapping services. (See figure 1 for a compilation of map details.)

This article takes a preliminary look at a subset of 624 of these maps, made between 2017-2018 by students ages 8-18 from 24 countries. The maps are tremendously varied, and it will be exciting to develop an analytic framework that does their variety justice. But if there is a theme that links almost all of them, it is that they are incredibly rich and diverse from the standpoint of thinking. That is, they show thinking in action in multiple ways. They are also incredibly beautiful.

More on the Out of Eden Walk

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and National Geographic Fellow Paul Salopek is retracing on foot the global migration of our ancestors in a 21,000-mile, seven-year journey that began in Ethiopia and will end in Tierra del Fuego. Visit Out of Eden Walk to explore Paul’s journey, including maps, photographs, videos and other resources. Click here to explore Paul’s storytelling for National Geographic.


On the Trail with Out of Eden Learn and Paul Salopek: This video features journalist Paul Salopek leading students and educators in a 5-mile (8-kilometer) learning walk in Tbilisi, Georgia. In collaboration with Paul Salopek, the Out of Eden Learn team developed several slow looking and active learning exercises for students to engage in along the walk based on Paul's slow journalism and our curriculum. Click to learn more about this walk.

Project Info

Status: Active
Start Date: January 2013
Funded By: The Abundance Foundation; Global Cities Inc., a program of Bloomberg Philanthropies; The National Geographic Society; Qatar Foundation International.
Total # of Classrooms: 700+
Total # of Countries: 60+
Total Students Reached: 30,000+