PDS Global Studies Program: Adapting to Changing Landscape

The mission of the Global Studies program at Princeton Day School is "to promote leadership, service and action." In doing so, the program is "committed to instilling in our students a clear sense of global citizenship, facilitat[ing] their engagement with complex global issues, and help[ing] them understand their role in an increasingly interdependent world." Two of the three tenets of the PDS Global Studies program are school exchange and international travel programs, which have been highly successful over the years. Student reflections on past exchange programs are available in a previous news story here and information about international travel programs is available here.

After the initial shock of mass cancelations of all off-campus and international events during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic this spring, global studies programs everywhere were forced to reevaluate their plans, both for the short-term and long-term. According to PDS Global Studies Coordinator Christian Cousins, "the current approach is a 'wait and see' aspect for most schools. The biggest question mark is what are we going to do for next year. Most schools, including PDS, are planning to be able to do what is planned for next year, but there is a bigger focus on contingency plans." 

Teachers and schools are not the only ones creating contingency plans for global studies, Mr. Cousins added. "A lot of companies that run programs abroad are working on ways to have their programs in a virtual capacity. I am constantly on the lookout for good programs that could provide meaningful experiential learning for our students should we remain unable to travel abroad."

"The bigger question," Mr. Cousins continued, "is how can we refocus our programming in terms of the experience our students have with global studies and understanding other cultures while local. How can we strengthen and reinforce our own offerings in addition to what can be done abroad?"  

"We’re all cloistered at present and it’s easy to become focused and concerned only with what is around us. But this is the same reality for many people around the world. It is as important as ever to find ways for our students to have educational and growth opportunities outside of our own bubble and culture," Mr. Cousins concluded. One thing is certain: Both Mr. Cousins and co-Coordinator of Global Studies Thatcher Cook are working to find and implement solutions that will bolster Global Studies offerings both near and far into the future.


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