When students transition from high school, they face a world full of challenges, risks, and opportunities. This two-semester course gives students some of the concepts and resources they need to make sense of their world. At the end of the course, they will be able to...
identify and analyze key economic, political, and environmental issues
stay informed about issues of concern to them
take a position on issues, justify their position, and express their views effectively (for example, by voting, writing letters, and doing volunteer work)
The course has two strands: Themes and News . Strand 1 - Themes
The course is organized into units based on the following themes. Students will view each theme historically and through the events of daily news.
Globalization — Its history, characteristics, and impact, together with the local and nationalist resistance to globalization. Globalization can be defined as a process marked by the movement of goods between countries (trade), the movement of people to places of greater safety and opportunity (migration), and the spread of ideas and information through digital technology. An important part of this theme is the study of global organizations, such as the UN and World Health Organization, created to manage global issues. Resistance to globalization takes many forms, including the rise of nationalist movements and the withdrawal of some countries from global and regional commitments (Brexit).
Climate change — The historical roots and complex effects of global warming; proposed methods of mitigating climate change; the debate within and between countries about climate change, including protest movements.
Conflict — This complex theme includes both "great-power" rivalries (e.g., tensions between China and the US) and regional tensions (e.g., Iran vs. Saudi Arabia in the Middle East). Specific local conflicts, including civil war in Yemen, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria, will be analyzed in the context of these larger conflicts. Peace-keeping mechanisms, both structural and ad-hoc, will be include in this theme.
Human rights — This theme addresses several key questions: What are human rights? How are they being threatened? What organizations protect them, and how? Students will address this theme through case studies on, for example, the treatment of Uighurs in western China. The role of authoritarian governments is important in this theme, too.
Migration - Its causes, structure, and human reality, together with the cultural and political opposition to migration in many countries. Students will learn how this aspect of globalization relates to the other themes, including Conflict and Climate Change as causes of migration.
Public health — This theme looks at a range of issues, including the current coronavirus pandemic, food security, and the disparity in health systems between countries that benefit from globalization and those that benefit much less. Public health is clearly linked to other themes. Countries experiencing civil war, such as Yemen, for example, experience enormous suffering
Students will learn about these themes from a variety of online and print media. Project work will give students the opportunity to master the concepts and vocabulary required to analyze these themes.
Strand 2 - News
Closely integrated with the Themes strand is the analysis of the events featured in the daily news. Several times a week, students will explore current events as reported by newspapers, TV, radio, social media, and other sources. They will learn to situate current events in a matrix of larger themes such as Conflict, Human Rights, and Climate Change. In the process they will acquire skills for analyzing the news critically. An important part of the News strand is close attention to areas of intense conflict, such as Hong Kong and Iran. Students will revisit these stories throughout the year to deepen their understanding of their world. Skill development. This course is designed to impart and refine many skills, building on the skills that students bring from their history, government, and other social studies courses at KTS. In addition, students will work on the specific skills required to make sense of global issues:
Map skills. Because geography shapes global themes and events,students will refine basic map-reading skills and acquire the skills required to analyze special-purpose maps and other visual representations of global realities such as conflict in the Middle East. They will also have the chance to create maps.
Research skills. Students will have the opportunity to address research questions and refine the skills required to use primary and secondary sources effectively. Students will learn strategies for finding specific information and techniques for taking usable notes. They will use graphic organizers to learn to synthesize information from multiple sources and different media.
Reading skills. Students will have frequent opportunity to read and annotate a variety of online and print text materials. Important objectives in this area include the ability to recognize bias and distinguish reliable from "fake" news. Accommodations for reading and making annotations will be integrated into the reading process.
Communication skills. Students will use traditional and online media to communicate their understanding and opinions to a variety of audiences. They will use creative online tools such as Book Creator and FlipGrid. As part of this skill, students will work on the entire writing process, including setting a purpose, understanding the audience, organizing ideas, structuring paragraphs, choosing the most effective words, and writing coherent sentences.
Technology in this course Much of the classwork and homework will be on Google Classroom. The instructor will introduce new tools for taking notes, keeping track of bookmarks, developing multimedia presentations, and so on.
How grades are calculated Quarterly grades are based on homework (30%), project work (30%), quizzes (10%), and participation (30%). Homework will be done primarily on Google Classroom; many homework assignments will be completed, in part, in class. Participation refers to compliance with PBIS (the school's positive behavior system), appropriate participation in classroom activities, and contribution to a positive classroom environment.