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Global Studies

Impact is a byproduct of empathy and understanding. This is the basic premise behind Prep’s new Global Studies initiative. “By looking outward, we learn to look inward,” says Ingrid Herskind, Prep’s Global Studies Coordinator.

Mission Statement

The Global Studies program supports and advances students’ understanding of and appreciation for the attitudes, knowledge, skills and engagement needed to enhance their community connections and personal growth as global citizens. Through interdisciplinary curriculum, local community outreach and national and international projects, students explore and connect to the greater global society. Our goals are to promote sensitivity to commonalities and differences among and within cultures, to understand how global forces influence our daily lives and to encourage responsible contributions to effect positive change.

About the Program

In addition to cornerstone coursework in international topics, the program capitalizes on features that have already proven to be successful at Prep, including immersive experiences outside the US. It’s founded on guidelines from the National Association of Independent Schools for educating global citizens, through contextualization, application, understanding and action—all of which are fostered through long-term exposure and deep relationships around the world.

The Global Studies program features curriculum components and immersive experiences, as well as guest speakers who talk about a range of topics of global significance. Jonathan Katz recently spoke about his experience as a foreign correspondent in Haiti in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in 2010. James Brooks, a UCSB professor, addressed students about how activities along the US-Mexico border helped shape the American West.

Global studies topics are often interwoven into the curriculum. For example, French teacher Lauren Van Arsdall is working on a project with French students in which they correspond with a Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon. During conversations entirely in French, the students have developed ideas to create water resistant books—helpful for young people in the intensely humid climate. In a recent Independent Study project, Jeff Chan ’18 created a program called “Voices of Migration: Stories from the Refugee Journey,” in which he interviewed Syrian refugees living in Berlin and examined the “challenges of mass migration.” The project had an impact across campus, including library displays about migration and activities across campus during which students examined their own families’ immigrant experience.

Global Studies intensives are available for interested students in the senior year. In the first semester, an Honors International Relations course examines factors that promote both cooperation and conflict between and among nation-states. Topics covered in the course include rules of effective diplomacy, economic development, the use of force and human rights. The centerpiece of the course is a simulation exercise in which the class assumes the identity of a contemporary nation. The students then develop diplomatic relations with several West Coast schools also posing as nations. In the second semester, students can take Honors Border Politics: Borders, Fences and Walls, which ex­plores migration and movement on a global level, providing an overview of the political philosophies and eco­nomic issues surrounding migration worldwide.

In 2019, five travel excursions were announced for students in grades 8-12.