About Us

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. An initiative of Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, The Open Canopy (formerly known as Out of Eden Learn) is a free online program for students aged 3-19 that has so far served approximately 70,000 students in over 70 countries. The program offers several 8-12-week long curricula, called “learning journeys” which all follow a similar format: Students of similar ages from diverse geographical and socioeconomic settings do activities in their own local areas, then share their work on The Open Canopy’s social media-like online platform and dialogue with other students who have done the same activities, often in very different contexts. 

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. share stories and perspectives; and

  3. make connections to other people and their life experiences and between the artifacts and experiences of everyday life and larger global forces, stories, and systems.

In addition, The Open Canopy pedagogy offers students the opportunity to explore and produce content that they and their fellow students choose themselves and to engage in thoughtful peer-to-peer exchange.

The Open Canopy began in 2013 as an experimental collaboration with journalist and National Geographic Explorer Paul Salopek, who is currently engaged in a 21,000-mile ‘Out of Eden Walk” following the ancient pathways of human migration. It has evolved into a promising model for promoting thoughtful intercultural inquiry and exchange, drawing inspiration from the ways in which Salopek and other writers and artists interweave “slow journalism” and local and global storytelling. 

The Open Canopy is also an active research project that examines such themes as students’ conceptions of culture, the character of their online interactions, what they learn when they slow down to observe the world closely, and how intercultural exchange might advance young people’s understanding of the past and history. Read The Open Canopy Handbook to find out more about our pedagogy and research agenda, or explore some of our other publications.

The Open Canopy is currently supported by Global Cities, Inc., a program of Bloomberg Philanthropies. The original funder of The Open Canopy was the Abundance Foundation. It has also been supported by  the National Geographic SocietyQatar Foundation International, and The Firehouse Fund. The Open Canopy is open to all schools and students, free of charge.