17 People Who Have Changed The World As We Know It

Who are the people who changed the world? Drawing inspiration from our international students who visit us every Summer to excel in their English, here are the people from our students’ countries who have changed the world as we know it!

17 People Who Have Changed The World As We Know It

Which people from your country have been the ones to change the world? Here’s 17 people from 17 different countries who have contributed to where we are all today in a revolutionary way.

Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973): Artist – Spain

Pablo Picasso is one of the most exciting and important figures in 20th century art, who changed his style dramatically throughout his lifetime. Why is Pablo Picasso important? He is one of the most important pioneers of Cubism and invented collage too! If he wasn’t painting, he was sculpting, printing, designing stage sets, writing plays or poems too.

What is Picasso’s most famous piece of art? Guernica, painted in 1937, might just be it! It is one of the world’s most famous anti-war art pieces.

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Leonardo da vinci

Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519): Polymath – Italy

Leonardo da Vinci is a man of many numerous talents! Some say he is the smartest man to have ever lived. He gave us art, helped us understand human anatomy and foresaw the age of flight 400 years before it finally happened.

His achievements cross so many disciplines from art to science that it is difficult to showcase his talents in just a few sentences.. His paintings and inventions have made him the leading man of the Italian Renaissance period. He painted the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper and was creating sketches of machines which look like bicycles and helicopters way before the Wright Brothers took flight at Kitty Hawk.

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Study Art with SBC this Summer

At Summer Boarding Courses, there are plenty of opportunities for you to become one of the people changing the world through art too. Find out more about our courses below:

Art Summer School

Hugo Junkers

Hugo Junkers (1859 – 1935): Engineer – Germany

Last year we welcomed over 95 nationalities to study with us in the UK! And we have the amazing visionary Hugo Junkers to thank for that! Hugo Junkers was a German aircraft engineer and designer who in his 50s, created the world’s first passenger aircraft. He pioneered all-metal planes and flying wings and made travel around the world so much more possible. Thanks Hugo!

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Ismail Al Jazari

Ismail al-Jazari (1136 – 1206): Polymath – Turkey

Ismail al-Jazari is one of the people that changed the world for us. He was a genius. His book of mechanics, ‘A Compendium on the Theory and Useful Practice of the Mechanical Arts’ was groundbreaking in our history of technology and engineering.

His book clearly and beautifully instructs us on the design, manufacture and assembly of machines he invented and the instructions are so clear that engineers in this century have easily managed to recreate them!

Products that we have to thank Ismail for include the alarm clock, hand-washing devices and humanoid robots to name just a few.

During the Muslim Crusades, Ismail’s work made its way through to Medieval Europe and it is believed that Leonardo da Vinci himself used Ismail’s ideas to go on and create his own inventions!

Find out more about SBC in Turkish here

Study Engineering with SBC this Summer

Do you want to be an engineer and appear in history books with your inventions which changed the world?

At our Oxford College campus for students aged 15-17, our Engineering course is a great place to start. You’ll be able to develop your skills in engineering, innovation, design and teamwork to become the engineer you want to be.

Find out more about our Engineering course


Napoleon Bonaparte (1769 – 1821): Military and political leader – France

It’s debatable whether Napoleon is a hero or villain but regardless of your opinion on one of the world’s greatest military leaders of all time; he is certainly someone who has changed the world!

Why is Napoleon important in world history? Napoleon invaded, and lost, much of Europe during the Napoleonic Wars and oversaw a number of changes in society and in the law. In post-revolution France, his code set the first firm laws for property, families and individual rights. He made many innovations in warfare and also created the metric system.

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Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee (1940 – 1973): Actor, Martial Artist and Philosopher – Hong Kong

Wondering how Bruce Lee changed the world? Bruce Lee is one of the most mesmerising cultural icons of this century, who has inspired many people around the world not just with his acting and incredible martial arts moves, but also his philosophical thoughts. He studied drama and Asian and Western philosophy at the University of Washington and taught his own approach to Wing Chun. He also helped change the way that Asians were being presented in American films at the time.

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Study International Relations with SBC this Summer

Study the global issues which form today’s political and humanitarian environment, as well as develop your negotiation strategies, leadership, interpersonal communication and teamwork skills!

We run our International Relations Courses for students aged 11-15 at SBC Canford and aged 15-17 at Oxford College.

Discover Introduction to International Relations at SBC Canford
Discover Introduction to International Relations at Oxford College


Cleopatra (69 BC – 30 BC): Ruler of Egypt

Cleopatra, one of the most famous female leaders of all time, ruled Egypt for almost 30 years and is  one of the women who changed the world. It was no easy task. Her political, social and negotiation skills excelled both herself and Egypt amongst many internal and external battles in a male-dominated society.

The world is still fascinated with Cleopatra today because of her love affairs and alliances with both Mark Anthony and Julius Caesar – two of Rome’s most noted Roman leaders. It all came to an end when she took her own life after being severely defeated by Octavian, one of the most powerful men in the Roman world.

Cleopatra changed the world by making Egypt wealthier and more powerful through Rome’s resources, whilst proving that women can succeed in a male-dominated culture.

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Marie Curie 1 560x350 1

Marie Curie (1867 – 1934): Physicist – Poland

Marie Curie was born in Poland. What is Marie Curie famous for? She is one of the most famous scientists in our history. She discovered polonium and radium and was awarded the Nobel prize in 1903, alongside Henri Becquerel, for her work in radioactivity. She went on to win another Nobel prize in 1911 in chemistry for discovering these elements.

How has Marie Curie’s discoveries helped us today? She showed us how to treat tumours with radiation and helped create one of the machines that changed the world – the x-ray.

Find out more about SBC in Polish here

Be a part of Global Young Leaders this Summer

Leadership skills are essential to success! Whether it be in business, politics, or the performing arts; those with confidence and skillful communication will often be leading from the front.

Our Global Young Leaders course, for ages 13-16, will help you get to where you want to be.

Study in our Global Young Leaders course

Study Science with SBC this Summer

Are you interested in scientific and technological development?

Our Introduction to STEM course at SBC Canford for students aged 11-15 will give you the opportunity to learn about Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Sign up for Introduction to STEM

For students aged 15-17, our Medicine or Natural Sciences courses at Oxford College are excellent choices too.

Our Medicine course focuses on human biology, symptom analysis and ethical debates.

Find out more about Medicine here

Anna Pavlova

Anna Pavlova (1881 – 1931): Ballet dancer – Russia

Named as the greatest dancer of all time, Anna Pavlova was born in St Petersburg in Russia. After seeing a performance of The Sleeping Beauty on her ninth birthday, she was determined to dance on stage. As a result, she became a prima ballerina (the chief female ballet dancer in the company). She toured all over the world, ran her own ballet school and was the pioneer in creating the modern pointe shoe (where a hard piece of leather is added to the ballet shoe soles to provide better support).

Anna Pavlova is an excellent example of following her passions and living a life where you share your innate talents with the world.

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Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo (1985 – Present): Footballer – Portugal

Portugal has produced some excellent football players in its time but Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the world’s most famous and rich footballers to come out of the country. He is also an excellent business man (he earns just as much as Kim Kardashian on Instagram!).

Ronaldo has changed the world of football not just by how popular he is but by also inspiring the youth of today to play like him on the field.

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J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling (1965 – Present): Writer – United Kingdom

J.K. Rowling has given us books which changed the world. If you have not heard of Harry Potter, you have done a very good job of hiding yourself from it all! The story of a young boy discovering that he is a wizard, to then go on and have fantastical adventures with his two friends Ron and Hermione, has captured the world’s hearts. Children now dream of flying around on their own Nimbus 2000, scoping out the nooks and crannies of their school under an invisibility cloak and having the power to take on the not-so-good in this world!

J.K. Rowling, the writer behind it all, is a role model for all budding writers out there, to never give up on your passions and creativity. She is now the ninth-best-selling fiction author of all time, with 500 million copies of her books estimated to have been sold. She is one of our favourite women that changed the world.

Find out why you should choose to study with SBC here

Chairil Anwar

Chairil Anwar (1922 – 1949): Poet – Indonesia

Chairil is an Indonesian poet who changed his country’s literary scene through his rebellious opinions and art. His poems were censored by the Japanese, who occupied Indonesia at the time.

Chairil changed the world by standing up for what he believed in and aiding the development of the Indonesian language. His most famous poem is called “Aku” (“Me”).

Find out more about SBC in Indonesian here

Lee Byung Chull

Lee Byung-Chull (1910 – 1987): Founder of Samsung – South Korea

Samsung is South Korea’s largest business group and it was all started by Lee Byung-Chull; one of South Korea’s most successful businessmen of all time! Today, Samsung manufacture so many products that you might just be surprised about what they do produce.

Yes; there are the mobile phones, but they also make helicopter engines, cars, toilet seats, ultrasound machines and even have their own theme park. This is amongst the usual TVs, hoovers and washing machines they produce too. Originally however, Samsung used to be a food trading store with Lee Byung-Chull exporting noodles and other food products to China.

Do you have a Samsung product in your home?

Find out more about SBC in Korean here

Tony Fernandes

Tony Fernandes (1964 – Present): Founder of Air Asia – Malaysia

Born in Kuala Lumpur, Tony Fernandes is the businessman behind Malaysia’s highly successful low-cost airline, Air Asia. Now more than ever, travellers and business people can fly across and around Asia quickly, efficiently and at a reasonable price thanks to Tony.

Air Asia used to be a failing government business, but Tony Fernandes managed to turn it all around, for it to become one of the top airlines in the world. In 2014, Forbes estimated Tony to be worth $650 million.

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Study Business with SBC this Summer

Focus on finance, sales, marketing, branding and product design to start your own journey in the business world! Find out more about our Business courses below.

Introduction to Business

Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948): Activist – India

Mahatma Gandhi is the political activist who was the leader of the Indian National Congress and ultimately led India to its freedom and independence from British colonial rule. He has changed the world by being a strong source of inspiration for civil rights movements through his non-violent non-cooperation approach.

Before leading the Indian National Congress, Gandhi studied law at University and then travelled to South Africa. It was there that he spent 21 years fighting against the injustices and racial discrimination in South African society. He is a role model for all of us to bring justice and harmony between people of all faiths. He has firmly earnt a place in the historic events that changed the world.

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Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Minh (1890 – 1969): Politician – Vietnam

Hồ Chí Minh is considered one of the most influential leaders in the world, who was the president of North Vietnam for 15 years, fighting for Vietnamese independence. He was determined to reunite Vietnam under communist rule and fought against the Japanese, then the French and finally the Americans fighting alongside the South Vietnamese in the Vietnam War.

In 1973, the last American troops left Vietnam and in 1975, 6 years after Ho Chi Minh’s death, Communist forces seized control of Saigon and renamed it Ho Chi Minh City.

Find out more about SBC in Vietnamese here

Study Law with SBC this Summer

Become the barrister, solicitor or judge that you want to be. Broaden your understanding of key legal concepts whilst building upon your legal argumentation skills. For students aged 15 to 17, our Law course is a great place to start!

Find out more about our Law course at Oxford College

The Intelligent Robotics Lab (2003): Japan

Are you looking for technologies that changed the world? Have you always dreamed of having a robot that looks, acts and speaks like a human? This dream is now a reality. Researchers from the Intelligent Robotics Lab released the human robot, called the DER 01, in 2003 at Osaka University, and we have not looked back.

Robots in Japan now run a whole hotel in Nagasaki and they are even going to space as companions with astronauts.

Find out more about SBC in Japanese here

Humanoid Robot