The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

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Students tackle global issues

Class debates current events with an analytical lens.
Harper Harris
Senior Ryan Brown writes on the bard during the class’s social impact day.

Debating worldwide issues like migration and justice, the senior seminar Global Issues gives students an analytical view on modern world issues and current events while also creating an open and safe environment for students to dissect controversial topics.

The class was created four years ago and is taught by Dr. Elizabeth Bennett, who took over the class two years ago after the original teacher retired.

“A few years ago, the history department got together and decided to create a class more global in scope,” Bennett said. “We wanted to have a student-driven class focused on modern problems and current issues around the world and be able to change the class to reflect what the students wanted to learn about and their interests.”

Senior Sanika Agarwalla believes that this type of curriculum is engaging and helpful, since the students in the class were able to pitch what they wanted to learn about and influence the curriculum.

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“I think Dr. Bennett has done a really wonderful job of listening to what we want to learn, and catering the curriculum to us students and our interests, especially since we wanted to focus on niche topics that we haven’t learned about before in classes like World History, such as the global south and migration,” Agarwalla said.

Some students decided to take the class because of its focus on global issues, rather than just the West.

“I chose to take Global Issues because I really like learning about the world around me and how we can affect the issues that we normally see in our communities,” Senior Sophia Braskamp said.

Agarwalla decided to take the class for a similar reason and hopes to major in foreign policy in the future.

“I think it’s hard-to-find niche classes that talk about the entire world instead of focusing on the West, so I took global issues to get a taste of a more heterogeneous curriculum,” Agarwalla said.

In the class, students study a base of world problems, and have discussed world order, international justice courts and legal institutions, like the International Court of Justice, the International Monetary Fund, and the Geneva Convention, as well immigration practices and policies, and refugees.

“We have covered a general history of world order and how the United States and other international bodies, like the United Nations” senior Sophia Braskamp said. “Right now, we are looking into migration, and recently had Fritstha Nasari, an Afghani refugee and refugee advocate come in as a speaker.”

The Global Issues class also meets the Social Impact designation, and students in the class are partnering with McShan Elementary to help the newcomers class- a class of students who are recent refugees and immigrants, or just new to the United States create an autobiographical project. Currently, the class has only visited once, but plans to spend more time with the McShan students in the upcoming months. Agarwalla said that this was her favorite part of the class.

“The kids have such a joyful world view,” Agarwalla said. “They’re simultaneously willing to learn from the American culture and wear a badge of pride of the country that they come from, even when those countries are places where they lived in refugee camps or settlements. I found it so incredibly inspiring to see how these kids are taking the setbacks they have forcibly been placed in and making the most out of it and are willing to share their culture with others.”

In the class, students regularly do current event assignments, as well as a lot of group investigation, and the class ends with a culminating project on a global issue of each student’s choice.

“Current events are something that we work on almost every class, and it’s really just looking at every part of the world,” Bennett said. “Sometimes they’re focused, and I’ll have students find recent articles or look up something that has to do with what we’re studying. We’ll also have some reading quizzes and research grades. Overall, it’s a fun class, but we still really learn a lot.”

With the class focused on modern and recent events and global affairs, some topics that the class discusses end up being controversial and lead to difficult discussions.

With many controversial discussion topics, Bennett finds innovative ways to discuss these issues while keeping a healthy and safe class environment.

“I really make clear that everyone’s opinion is respected, and I try to lay out facts,” Bennett said. “I want to be analytical, as it’s easy to be caught up emotionally in things, but I also want my students to think and approach things objectively and look at all sides.”

Overall, Bennett hopes the main idea students take away from the class is an understanding of the world.

“The biggest thing that I want students to take away from this class is an understanding of what is going on in the world and help them broaden their horizons,” Bennett said. “It is very easy to get caught up in your life and what you are doing. I want to ignite some kind of interest in global affairs because I think it is so important that we as a community see ourselves in a larger context.”

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About the Contributors
Anika Shah
Anika Shah, Staff Writer
Harper Harris
Harper Harris, Print Editor in Chief