When students transition from high school, the larger world can seem complicated and confusing. This year-long course helps Katherine Thomas students 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
know how to stay informed about issues of concern to them
take a position on issues and communicate their views effectively--by voting, writing letters, doing volunteer work, and so on
The course has two strands: Themes and News . Strand 1 - Themes
The course introduces students to the following themes. Students will learn about each theme through readings, maps, videos, and, most important, exploration of the daily news (Strand 2).
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. An important part of this theme is the study of global organizations, such as the UN and World Health Organization, created to help countries respond to global issues. Central to globalization today is the tension between globalization and nationalism; this tension takes many forms.
Climate change — This theme explores the following: the historical roots and complex effects of global warming (wildfires, melting ice caps, rising sea level, and severe weather); some proposed methods of dealing with climate change; and the debate within and between countries about climate change.
Conflict — This theme includes both global rivalries (e.g., tensions between China and the US) and regional rivalries (e.g., tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East). Specific local conflicts, including intense internal conflict in Yemen, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Nigeria, Libya, and Syria, will be analyzed in the context of larger regional and global conflicts. Peace-keeping mechanisms, both structural and ad hoc, will be included in this theme. Central to these theme are the forms of government (autocratic vs. democratic) and how they contribute to, or reduce, conflict.
Human rights — This theme addresses several questions: What are human rights? What are the conditions in which they increase, and what are the groups and institutions that protect them? How and why are human rights being threatened in different countries? Students address this theme through case studies on, for example, the treatment of Uighurs in western China and Muslims in India.
Migration - This theme looks at the causes and structure of migration, and the human reality of moving to a new country in dangerous circumstances. It is also looks at the cultural and political opposition to migration in many countries, including the US. Students will learn how migration relates to the other themes, including conflict, climate change, and human rights.
Public health — This theme looks at a range of issues, including the current coronavirus pandemic, food security, and the disparity in health systems within and between countries. Public health, too, is clearly linked to other themes. Countries experiencing conflict and civil war, for example, such as Yemen and Lebanon, experience enormous suffering and a weakening of institutions that protect the public's health.
Students will learn about these themes from a variety of online and print media. Project work will give students the opportunity to work these themes.
Strand 2 - News
Several times a week students will explore the news -- "current events" -- as reported by newspapers, TV, radio, social media, and other sources. They will learn to situate current events in the context of larger themes such as conflict, human rights, and climate change. In the process they will acquire skills for analyzing the news critically -- identifying bias, recognizing fake news, and distinguishing fact and opinion. When possible students will have the chance to explore the historical roots of current events in order to better understand them. Patterns in the news -- such as the unrest that swept through many countries at the same time in late 2019 -- will also be explored when possible. Students will revisit certain news stories throughout the year to help them get in the habit of checking news sources regularly to see how stories unfold. Skill development. This course is designed to refine 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 goings-on in the news.
Research skills. Students will have the opportunity to pursue research questions and refine the skills required to read and synthesize primary and secondary sources. Students will learn strategies for finding specific information and techniques for taking usable notes. They will use graphic organizers to learn to make sense of information from multiple sources and different media.
Reading skills. Students will have frequent opportunity to read a variety of online and print text materials. In particular they will also learn how to read the elements of a newspaper article and the skills required to read the news critically. Accommodations for reading and making annotations will be integrated into the reading process. Students will also learn to recognize bias.
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 (25%), and participation (15%). Homework will be done primarily on Google Classroom. Participation refers to compliance with PBIS (the school's positive behavior system), appropriate participation in classroom activities, and contribution to a positive classroom environment.