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13 Countries 121 Students One Goal

Designed and built by Harvard scholars, Knovva’s Model G20 Virtual Summit is a novel platform for global youth leaders to connect and collaborate with the best and brightest students from over 30 countries. The Model G20 (MG20) is a five-day virtual summit where high schoolers from around the world convene for a true-to-life simulation of the G20 Summit: an international forum for the governments and central bank governors from 19 countries and the European Union.

Through a series of workshops, formal and informal negotiations, and working in intercontinental teams, students hone their cross-cultural communication, strategic thinking, and leadership craft. Simulating roles of heads of state and ministerial members of the G20, students engage with the most pressing global challenges and explore collaborative solutions with their peers.


The Summit is a series of role-playing games that give every student a set of unique responsibilities and stakeholders. “The entire Summit is devoted to student leadership – students decide what topics to cover in their budgets, they create their own plans, and at the end, students are the ultimate judges of the winners.” — William McGinty, Deputy Chair of the MG20 Committee 

Students engage in panel discussions and workshops to explore the following questions:

  • How do nations strengthen frontline service for pandemic response?
  • Faced with urgent short-term needs, what trade-offs are countries required to make, and how are nations rebalancing their priorities in the coming years?
  • How do countries work to simultaneously rebuild their own economies while reforging the economic links between countries?


In the gamified Model G20 Virtual Summit, over 120 students joined intercontinental groups, taking on the roles of heads of state and leaders of non-governmental organizations. They all faced a daunting challenge: rebuilding a world economically devastated by the pandemic. Each time they made a productive step, their team was awarded points in the game.

Students experienced an engaging collaborative working environment, working shoulder to shoulder with peers from around the world and meeting incredible speakers who mentored them in global policy development, research, writing, and public speaking.

Peter Dufresne, Vice President of Academic at Knovva Academy, welcomed the participants and shared Knovva Academy’s vision and objectives for the Summit. He explained two key guidelines for the students to follow during the Summit: 

  1. To be nice and respect each other’s points of view, even if they did not agree with their peers
  2. To remember that only hard work yields success

During a round table session by Dr. Don Goldmann, Chief Medical and Science Officer, Professor Emeritus of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, students were given a general understanding of the world of pandemics, infectious diseases, outbreaks, and how these reshape society. Dr. Goldmann also talked about other pandemics such as the Bubonic Plague (Black Death), Cholera, and HIV, which have been ongoing year after year.  

Looking at historical events, students had an opportunity to analyze why Europe was most susceptible to the plague. In comparison, the participants discussed how the world today is set up for the spread of COVID-19 as a result of climate change and other contributing factors. Dr. Goldmann’s presentation also highlighted the effect on the economy as well as everyday life. All guest speaker sessions were followed by questions and answers for the students to pose contextualized questions based on their country roles.

Students also gained insights on leadership by learning the importance of:

  1. understanding the aims and goals of those around you 
  2. convincing someone of what you want them to do by first understanding what they want rather than using an emotionally charged speech
  3. showing integrity and humility
  4. communicating clearly and often with your teammates

During the workshop on government spending, students were briefed on the ways in which budgets are made, the crux of which was that a good budget can grow economies, raise incomes, and increase well-being across the country.

Jonathan Fantini Porter, Chief of Staff for Management, US Department of Homeland Security, delivered a very informative session on “Policy in 2021,” focusing on how the federal budgets affect policymaking. Each workshop was followed by questions and answers enabling students to engage directly with policymakers and practitioners. 

The parallel running Ministerial Meetings allowed students to put their learning into practice in real time. During their sessions on budget planning, policymaking, adjusting country budgets, and negotiations as country heads, youth leaders got a sense of how world leaders tackle situations. Relevant to the Summit theme, the students especially learned how the current pandemic has affected every governmental procedure and planning.


Get Leadership Experience

Not only will you get to take on the role of a government official from one of the most powerful economic bodies in the world, or a leader of an international organization, but you’ll gain the opportunity to find your voice as a leader of your group.

Get to Know More People

Model G20 has a tradition of being a tight-knit community. Alumni stay connected and support each other throughout their high school and college life. You’ll chat, brainstorm, discuss, decide, and make lifelong friends with students from over 20 countries.

Get Informed

Have fun taking a deep dive into our challenge. Deepen your understanding of political science and international affairs, and sharpen your skills in critical thinking, policy research, persuasive writing, and public speaking.

Get Inspired

Model G20 is all about creating mutually beneficial agreements. You can achieve more when you work together to solve the world’s biggest problems.

Get Ahead

Distinguish yourself on your college applications and résumé by demonstrating a background in an academic extracurricular activity with a special interest in global affairs.

“Do not let the world define your parameters in the way you are going to grow.”

— President John F. Kennedy

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