Global Issues Students will Confront


This year’s topics in Global Studies were selected to prepare students not just for high school but for their futures as global citizens in an increasingly interconnected and complicated world. Units have addressed the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, legacies of colonialism in Africa and the relevance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In our final month – with a geographic focus on Asia – students are investigating current issues in China, India and North Korea. These three countries were selected based on their global influence, their relevance in U.S. relations and the likelihood that they will continue to feature prominently in coming decades.

Below are the essential questions students are exploring. They will present their findings in a variety of formats: creative performances, graphic art, detailed report cards, interactive lessons, essays, and Powerpoint presentations.

Parker and Reese: What is China’s government doing to improve their record on LGBTQ+ rights?

Alexa and Kyla: What are the effects of removing the 1-child policy on China’s population?

Ally:How far will China have to go to reverse the damage they’ve done to the environment?

Rose: China has some of the world’s highest air pollution. What are they doing to mitigate it, and what are the laws’ effects on China’s population?

Sumeya and Claire: How does China’s Social Credit system impact those deemed “untrustworthy” by the government and help create a class divide?

Mia and Chloe: A lot of people are abused and sexually harassed in India; what is the government doing to prevent this abuse?

Zola: How is the Indian government repressing the press in India and what are the impacts on reporting?

Eva: How will India be able to support its growing population with its lack of water?

Lola: Why have the non-communicable diseases in India become more deadly than the infectious diseases?

Red: How does N. Korea’s nuclear capability affect the United States?

Georgia and Nola: How is North Korea’s lack of human rights impacting its citizens?

Dylan and Ava L: North Korea censors their news and Internet access; what are the benefits and negative impacts of doing so?

Ava K & Luna: How has the social credit system in China affected the country’s residents?

Izzy: What is China doing to reduce its pollution, and have these efforts been successful?

Margot and Aislin: How are women being discriminated against in China, and are there efforts to address this?

Sada: How does censorship in North Korea affect the citizens?

Drew:: How was North Korea able to acquire nuclear capability?

Adriana and Grace: How does the issue of North Korea’s extremist views and nuclear capability affect the safety of the world population?

Brooklyn and Lucy: How are human rights abuses in North Korea affecting the human population?

Delaney and Zoe: Why are non-communicable diseases now the biggest threats to the population of India?

Sadie: What impacts are being felt by India’s population regarding the Aadhaar surveillance system?

Faith and Karina: How is India’s government responding to high levels of gender based violence?

Ada: Is freedom of speech declining in India, and how is Modi’s government cracking down on journalists?

Lorelei and Erica: How are India, China and North Korea policing their citizens and violating their human rights?

As you can see, these topics demand deep critical thinking and thoughtful research to answer. Be sure to ask the student(s) in your world about what is going on in theirs!

Finally, another issue that will impact all of us in coming decades is trash! Our 7th and 8th grade students – as part of our Global Classroom relationship with the World Affairs Council – have been invited to screen for free the documentary: Albatross, by local filmmaker and activist Chris Jordan. This will take place June 4 from 6:30 – 8:30 at Ingraham High School, 1819 N 135th Street in Seattle. The screening follows a 1-hour workshop for educators that Wendy will be attending.  Students can register here:

Human Rights in Global Studies

Thursday in Global Studies, students were introduced to their next big project (partnering with Lulu in Production and Performance Studies). They will produce a 3 to 5 minute documentary on a human rights issue. We’ve been learning about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (the product of 18 countries’ work – chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt – in 1948). The assignment is to apply their understanding of these rights by selecting a real-life human rights defender working on an issue they feel passionately about. This issue will connect to one or more of the 30 articles in the UDHR.

Their completed videos will be submitted to a nationwide contest called Speak Truth To Power, sponsored by the Robert F, Kennedy Human Rights Center and the Tribeca Film Institute. Because of the Robert Kennedy connection, students yesterday learned a bit about him, and viewed the speech he gave just hours after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was assassinated on April 4, 1968. He addressed a shocked crowd that could easily have turned hostile – a crowd police warned him they could not protect him from. Some in the audience – who had learned of King’s death – came armed. Thirty-four cities rioted that night. Indianapolis was the only American city with a large black population that did not. Many observers felt Kennedy’s speech was part of the reason why.

Among his elegant and powerful words – scribbled on a piece of paper on his way to Indianapolis – were the following:

“What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country.”

At a time when our country feels polarized and incomprehensible – and the Commander in Chief makes blatantly racist remarks – such words are worth revisiting. The wisdom of King and Kennedy – and the humor, insight and compassion of 8th graders – make me incurably hopeful.

A troubled past, a fragile present and a better future!

For the past two weeks, we’ve been learning in Global Studies about the how the seeds of World War II – and the rise of Hitler in 1934 – were sewn in the treaty that ended World War I and in the history of Anti-Semitism in Europe. In Thursday’s class we watched oral history interviews of Holocaust survivors who were children when Hitler was first named Chancellor of Germany in 1933. We also watched a video that concluded with a comment on “how fragile our institutions are, in the face of angry crowds and a leader willing to feed anger and exploit fears.”

Students were asked to journal on why this is important to learn about, and here is the collected wisdom excerpted from their entries. I look forward to hearing from those who were absent.

Drew– I think it’s important because there are a lot of hate groups and the president is more defending them than saying how bad they are and if people stay passive we might end up in a world where hate groups are ok.

Lola– If people get really angry or afraid It can be easy for whole governments and institutions to crumble especially if they have a leader who fuels their anger and fear. This is important to keep in mind in times like these to stand up for our democracy and our rights.

Lucille – This information is more relevant than it has ever been before because it is important to look back on history and acknowledge the mistakes we have made in the past to make a difference in the future.

Zoe – I think this is important because not a lot of people understand how easily anything can fall or be destroyed.  

Lorelei – I think it’s important that we learn about it because we should know how easily our government could fall apart.

Reese – I think it’s important because if people don’t know how easily this can happen, the public will be more susceptible to a leader like Hitler.

Dylan – I think this is important because even the strongest of institutions can crumble in the face of crisis.

Sumeya– Even the most solid institution can crash and burn if the public fear is big enough ,they can be blinded into supporting and participating in atrocities.

Mia – Without a knowledge of the past, how can we avoid repeating history in the future?

 Luna: When people are afraid they are sometimes willing to sacrifice their fundamental rights for the illusion of safety. We cannot give any leader this power over us and our rights, especially not Donald Trump. 

Zola – Because of everything that is happening in our world today, a lot of people are making mistakes and we need to be careful to avoid making the same mistakes people made years ago.

Sada – This is important so we can protect the institutions we care about and will keep us safe, so we won’t be one of those people in the angry crowds, fed by fear and anger.

Sadie– I think learning about this is important so we can try to prevent things like this from happening in the future.

Georgia– I think that events like these are super important to learn about because if we learn about it now then we will stop it from happening in the future.

Kyla– It is important to learn about these major event so when we notice that something like this is going to happen again we can use our rights to stop it from happening.

 Ava L.- This is important to learn about and consider today because some of the things that were happening during Hitler’s rise to power are happening now. For example, Hitler was blaming Jewish immigrants for Germany’s misfortune, just as Trump is blaming Mexican and Muslim immigrants for all of America’s problems.

Delaney– It’s important to acknowledge the past to consider what’s happening today in the government, and know it’s starting to happen already. To know the past you can stop this fear/anger from going any further.

Faith – “A leader willing to feed their anger and exploit their fears” … The part that really gets me is “a leader.” A leader is a person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country. A person that others look up to and that people are supposed to follow, a person that people trust. How is a person supposed to lead and have tactics like Hitler?

Ava K– Hitler rose to power because he brought out the worst in people. It was their fear and anger that helped him into office and later gain full power over Germany.

Chloe– if we don’t learn about our history and or past mistakes, how will we avoid repeating it in the future?

Aislin– We need to learn our history, think about what we did that was good, think about what we did that was bad and learn from our mistakes and see how we can improve and develop ourselves. This is also important to learn and consider today because the institutions of the country could start breaking down and fall apart. These institutions – schools, courts, banks, libraries – are all like a chain, each part of government needs other parts of government in order to be balanced.

Karina – We need to learn how to recognize, prevent and address it.

Adriana– I think that it’s very important to learn about what happened in our history because we can learn from those mistakes of how and why it happened and not repeat it again in the future, especially now with the president that we have.

AlexaEveryone should be able to learn about important parts in history that cannot be replaced. We also need to learn from a wrongdoing in history to use our conscience and learn what is wrong and right so it’s not repeated again.

Ada– It is important to learn from our mistakes and how people’s feelings and frustration can get in the way of seeing the truth.

Claire – If we don’t learn about this crucial period in our history, we risk making the same mistake again, and we could crumble the system of the world, piece by piece. It is important to remember what happened so we can move on and never repeat this part of history.

Erica – “History is bound to repeat itself.” Let’s not have it repeat so soon. Never blame a whole group for one person’s mistakes. And DON’T BE A NAZI SUPPORTER.

Ally – People get so consumed by anger that they stop thinking about the outcomes of their actions, and how what they do affects other people. We need to learn not to let anger and hate control what we do.

Brooklyn–  I don’t think that just because something like this happened in the past doesn’t mean it won’t happen again. Our government today has been dealing with a lot of protests and rallies with people who our scared and  angry and our government may be willing to “ feed our anger and exploit fears.”

Grace – The more informed we are about the past, the better we can affect the future as we gain more of a political voice and responsibility.

A trunk containing artifacts, fiction and nonfiction books, primary documents and videos will arrive from the Holocaust Center for Humanity today. You are encouraged to ask students what questions they have about this topic in the coming weeks, and to share them with me! Also read the letter this week from our Humanities team regarding this unit of study.