Generation Waking Up: Joshua Gorman on empowering “youngers” to lead

Generation Waking Up: Joshua Gorman on empowering “youngers” to lead

Posted On: January 20, 2015
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Joshua Gorman is the Founder and Co-Coordinator of Generation Waking Up, a global campaign to ignite a generation of young people to bring forth a thriving, just, and sustainable world. He is author of “Generation Waking Up: How A New Generation Of Young People Is Coming Of Age And Changing Our World.” He is one of the leading voices championing the paradigm-shifting role of the Millennial generation.

In this interview with Nicholas Beecroft and Hannah Mortiboys, he shares his personal story of transformation from alienation and woundedness into an inspirational leader. He shares his experience of taking thousands of young people through an empowering leadership programme which invites them to ask:

Who are we? Where have we come from? Where are we? What has to change? What do we do now?

It’s an exciting venture which is helping to reshape our shared story and empowering emerging leaders. He believes that the Millennial generation (approx 15-30 in 2012) has both some unique characteristics and also has a unique place in history, being born at the time of the first expressions of global consciousness and are coming together to rise to the many challenges which we face.

Joshua give some examples of graduates from his program who have gone on to innovate and experiment with new forms of democracy and community which he sees as part of the evolution of our culture. He believes the democracy needs to become more open and transparent. The more that people participate in decision-making, the more motivated they are to participate in the solutions.

Whilst the millennial generation are important for providing new leadership, Joshua believes that the initiatives can only succeed through cross-generational collaboration. Generation Waking Up started off in North America but has become a global network. Nevertheless, it is still weighted towards those who speak English, are educated and technologically savvy. He doesn’t think the world will change overnight but he does believe the pace of change is fast. In his work across the world, Joshua sees common threads emerging. Younger people, who are more than 50% of the global population, increasingly see themselves as both local and global in their identification.

Whilst belief systems and conditions may vary, a common thread is that emerging leaders are engaging both their hearts as well as their heads as part of the inner compass through complexity. He believes that that is fundamental to healthy outcomes. Part of the empowerment process is in healing old wounds both initial and collective which then enables people to achieve their full potential.  He gives the example of manhood and masculinity. Joshua believes that it is healthy for men to acknowledge the historical abuses of masculine power and the imbalances that that has created. He believes that we have a lot to learn from the feminine and women. He says that the healthy, empowered masculine and feminine are coming up to heal and empower one another.

Unlike some who fear a sudden collapse of the West or of American power, Joshua has a much more positive vision and understanding of where were going. He believes that America is evolving to become more leaderful, more open, more diverse and democratic and its role is in supporting and encouraging all the other countries to reach their full potential and take their place in a thriving global community in which America will remain a strong part.

If you would like to go to one of Joshua’s programs or follow his work, then visit Generation Waking Up at


Joshua helps to steward the work of Generation Waking Up as a whole, and is accountable for strategic planning, organizational governance, leadership & community empowerment, partnerships, Thrive Leadership & Hub program coordination, and trainings.

“I grew up in the heart of mainstream, middle-class American culture in the suburbs of Washington, DC.  As I awoke in my adolescence to the state of our world, I went “mad” and set out in search of deeper meaning.  For years I traveled and worked in California, Oregon, Alaska, and Hawai’i.  In my early twenties, I went through a personal transformation that altered the course of my life: I saw clearly the pivotal role that our generation is being called to play in creating a thriving, just, and sustainable world for all.  Supporting young people creating positive change has become the passion and purpose I wake up committed to every day.”

Joshua designed a major called “Global Youth and Social Change” at George Mason University.  He serves on the Board of Directors for the Global Youth Action Network/TakingITGlobal-US and supports youth-led projects around the world.  In 2008, he co-founded Global Passageways, a network of individuals and organizations working in the fields of youth & community development, contemporary rites of passage, intergenerational mentoring & collaboration, and cultural renewal.  He is a lifelong student of human development and transformational education with a focus on providing young people the experiences, knowledge, and skills they need to thrive in the twenty-first century.  Currently he is at work completing a book titled Generation Waking Up: How A New Generation Of Young People Is Coming Of Age And Changing Our World.