Our Story

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The Pearson Seminar on Youth Leadership (PSYL) has developed out of the values and mission of the UWC movement. Each summer, we bring together youth from around the world for a three-week UWC experience that gives them the opportunity to build an international community committed to creating positive change in the world. PSYL is located on the Pearson College UWC campus. This inspired setting, along the wooded shores of the Pacific Ocean at sheltered Pedder Bay on the southernmost tip of Vancouver Island, inspires us all to take risks in our learning and leadership. 

History of UWC

The UWC movement was conceived in the 1950s at the height of the Cold War. Kurt Hahn, a noted educator who also contributed to the founding of Outward Bound and the Duke of Edinburgh Award, believed that much could be done to overcome religious, cultural and racial misunderstanding if young people from all over the world could be brought together and educated for peace. He founded the United World College movement with the mission of making education a force to unite people, nations, and cultures for peace and a sustainable future. In 1962, the first United World College, the College of the Atlantic in Wales, opened. 

Today, the UWC network includes 16 colleges and schools around the world. More than 60,000 students from over 180 countries have studied at UWC institutions. The 16 colleges are not identical, but share characteristics. Students, faculty and staff from many different nationalities and a wide variety of backgrounds form vibrant and enthusiastic communities as they live and work together.

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History of Pearson College

Lester B. Pearson, Nobel Peace Laureate and former Prime Minister of Canada, was the driving force behind the founding of Pearson College. After retiring from public life, Mr. Pearson became interested in the UWC movement. 

Mr. Pearson visited the College of the Atlantic in 1969 and met with students and faculty. He came away convinced that there must be more such colleges around the world and, in particular, one on Canada's west coast. He envisioned that: 

“Students will be welcomed without regard to race, religion or politics and we intend to establish scholarships so that the students who attend the College will be from all levels of society and will be genuine representatives of their own peoples. This system could become a revolutionary force in international education.”

Lester B. Pearson became Honourary Chairman of a committee formed to build what was to be known as the College of the Pacific. He worked tirelessly to get things started, but died in December 1972, just as the project was getting underway.

Soon after, it was decided that the College would be renamed Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific as a living memorial to this visionary. The first 100 students arrived in September 1974. 

Today, more than 3,500 students have graduated from Pearson College UWC. They work in a variety of professions in every corner of the world. No matter what they do, Pearson Scholars are dedicated to making change happen in diverse and powerful ways. They share a determination to make a difference and work in their communities as a positive force for peace.