Global Studies Program

Global Studies Program

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 September 2018, four travel excursions were announced for students in grades 8-12.


Following a year of study and careful planning, the four new programs highlight the Global Studies Program’s dedication to authentic, immersive experiences for students. These excursions cross many facets of the student experience at Prep—engaged learning, active curiosity, open-mindedness, creativity and lasting connection. Each trip is meant to offer a unique experience in different fields of inquiry, including strategically selected activities that complement course curriculum. From environmentalism to finance, economics to art, the varied focuses of the trips offer something for almost any student at Prep.

Earthwatch Arizona: Sky Islands, Southern Arizona

Dates: March 16-23, 2019 (Spring Break)
Open to: Current 10th-12th grade students
Focus: Science in the field
Contact: Michelle Lee

Prep will join Earthwatch on an expedition to study forest owls and their nesting sites.

China: Beijing, Xi’an, Yangshuo and Shanghai
Dates: June 1-13, 2019
Open to Current 9th-11th grade students
Focus: Identity, Borders and Development
Contact: Reid Fritz

The aim of this trip is to probe our narratives of China, build connections with people from other cultures and learn more about ourselves through the joys and challenges of travel.

Cuba: Havana and Viñales in Pinar del Rio
Dates: June 3-10, 2019
Open to: Current 10th-11th grade students
Focus: For those with a passion in the arts
Contact: Ricardo Rodriguez

This trip was created and designed for students with an affinity for the arts. At its core, it is a platform for an immersive cultural experience with the Cuban people through the exploration and labor of creating art.

France (French for Real!): Paris, Versailles, Rouen, Normandy and Loire Valley
Dates: July 1-10, 2019
Open to: Current 8th-11th grade French students
Focus: French language
Contact: Dr. Van Arsdall

The philosophy behind the trip is an immersion in French, with the objective of improving fluency, vocabulary and cultural awareness.