The International Baccalaureate Organization was founded in 1968. It works with schools in 143 countries to offer programs for students age 13 to 19. These programs, it says, "help develop the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world."
The organization says IB programs are in more than 3000 schools. The majority of these schools offer IB diploma programs.
High school students have to complete six courses, pass exams and write a 20-page paper to earn an IB diploma. The courses are in humanities, science, arts, math, a second language and their own language.
Students can also attend special events. Recently more than 300 IB diploma students from 13 countries attended a conference at the University of British Columbia in Canada. The five-day conference was called "The New Sustainability: Making Things Better, Not Just Less Bad."
The students heard from professors, graduate students, activists and others. One of the speakers was Drew Deutsch, director of IB Americas. He says the conference was meant as a way for students not only to learn about the environment, but also to develop lasting relationships.
He says conference organizers want to send the students back to their schools to deal with issues related to protecting the environment. But, he says, they want these students to become "students of the world," and to form bonds with peers their own age from around the world."
He adds that, with social networking and other tools, these relationships can last a lifetime.
Seventeen-year-old Itzel Chavez is a student at the International School of Beaverton, in the American state of Oregon. She was one of 21 IB students who received scholarships to attend the conference.
She said: "I applied for a scholarship and I had to write an essay." Her school chose only one person, and she got to attend.
She says the main speakers would describe a sustainability program or tell how a special project improved the environment in their community. Then the students had to choose a project to present to the conference.
Itzel worked on a video. It asked students three questions about sustainability and how they would make it happen in their own communities. After the video, group members went on stage to tell what they themselves would do to protect the environment.