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.

Summer Projects

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.

Italy, Slovenia, Croatia
Dates: June 1-11, 2020
Grades: Current 8th-11th
Focus: History, Literature, Migration
Contact: Toby Wagstaff

This trip aims to give students a firsthand view of a part of the world that has been a cultural crossroads for the last 2,000 years. The historical frontiers of the Roman, Byzantine and Austro-Hungarian empires, as well as medieval city-states, the Soviet Eastern bloc and the modern European Union, all lie within the space of a few hundred miles here, defining concepts of northern, southern, eastern and western European identity that have mingled and evolved over the centuries.

We’ll examine how cities, nations and peoples just a few dozen miles apart have been lumped together or separated by competing influences, how they’ve been empowered or oppressed by internal and external conflicts and how they see themselves in the modern world.

Earthwatch Andorran Pyrenees
Dates: May 27-June 4, 2020
Grades: Current 9th-11th
Focus: Science in the Field
Contact: Michelle Gee

While trekking through the Pyrenees, students will learn about the amazing biodiversity of the forests and alpine meadows, and our team will help identify the key species in the ecosystem and how they are changing. We will weigh and measure small mammals, and find boreal owls and other bird species by visiting their nest boxes and spotting them through binoculars. Students will also study alpine flora, survey snow bed vegetation, follow the growth of tree species and detect bats. These tasks will help researchers find out how animals are faring, and how to best protect key species. The research will also help to determine when natural events, like plant flowering and pollination, are occurring. Understanding the timing of such processes can help scientists learn if species’ life cycles are becoming out of sync with each other, which could have serious consequences for the health of this ecosystem.

China
Dates: June 1-12, 2020
Grades: Current 9th-11th
Focus: Culture, Development, and Migration
Contact: Reid Fritz

Building on the success of Prep’s inaugural travels to China last summer, this trip is our first adventure beyond China’s highly developed east coast. We will begin in Chengdu, home of pandas, sacred mountains and numbing spice. Then the group will travel to Kunming, a city in the midst of rapid development, and end in Beijing, home of the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and China’s modern seat of power. The goal of the trip is threefold: to explore China more deeply, traveling off the beaten path to places more rarely visited by Western tourists; to connect with individuals in China, learning about their hopes and daily lives; and to probe the narratives of China as it is portrayed in the United States.

Cuba
Dates: May 31-June 8, 2020
Grades: Current 10th-11th
Focus: Arts
Contact: Ricardo Rodriguez

The Cuba trip was created and designed for students with an affinity towards 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. Authentic human connections will elicit insight into the reality of these communities while inspiring student self-reflection. In addition, the program will also build understanding and awareness with collaborative participation through gallery and studio visits and performances.

Mexico City
Dates: June 21-28, 2020
Grades: Current 10th-11th, Spanish speakers only
Focus: Learning Service, Sustainability, Culture, Isla Urbana
Contact:Manuel Nuñez

The participants in the Mexico City program will work along with other high school students from Texas and California under the guidance of the Isla Urbana Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to combat the water crisis in Mexico City and ensure sustainable and equitable access to water by installing rainwater harvesting systems into vulnerable schools and communities. Participants will see firsthand how the water crisis is affecting Mexico City with an added opportunity to learn how to install this system. As part of the program, students will also visit iconic sites of this metropolis, considered the largest metropolitan city in the Western Hemisphere.