Global Studies and Service Diploma

GSS Diploma

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Our Mission

The Global Studies and Service Diploma program challenges students to engage locally and globally as agents of social change. A Global Studies and Service student engages with the world on a variety of levels— compassionate, creative, intuitive, analytical—in advancing causes of equity, justice, and sustainability. Students who earn the Global Studies and Service Diploma will demonstrate active citizenship: the capacity to appreciate the global dimension of everyday, local life and to catalyze social change within an increasingly complex and international world.

Our Goals

A student who earns the Global Studies and Service Diploma will demonstrate the ability to:

  • Understand and work fluently in a range of cultures
  • Understand and analyze biases, norms, privileges
  • Express a wide range of perspectives through writing and other narrative and creative forms
  • Foster a sense of empathy, compassion, and an appreciation for our common humanity
  • Effect change as an active citizen
  • Act as a steward of the environment

Our Requirements

Cross-cultural experience: On campus

The student should demonstrate experience with globally-oriented clubs or events at Taft by completing two of options below (a student may repeat the same experience). Approval from the GSS department is required; proposals are due by October 1.

  1. Participate in a globally-oriented club such as UCT or the Spiritual Life Committee (8 meetings minimum)
  2. Write for the Global Journal and The Papyrus (2 article minimum)
  3. Perform a leadership role in staging a single event such as a table at WorldFest
  4. Participate in the Global Leadership Institute
  5. Serve as a Taft Eco-Mon
  6. Take part in Global Rhino Training as a facilitator or participant
  7. Do an Independent Study Project (ISP) with a cross-cultural focus

For each of the two experiences, the student must also submit a reflective essay demonstrating how the experience fulfills the requirement for a cross-cultural experience within the Taft community. Essays are due no later than the Sunday following exam week.

Cross-cultural experience: In the community

The student should demonstrate experience within a culture beyond his/her home culture and outside of the Taft community. This experience may take place during the school year (e.g., volunteering as an “ex”) or during the summer (e.g., volunteering in a local community organization). The experience must span a significant number of hours, for example, one athletic season “ex,” a weeklong trip, etc. Proposals require GSS department approval and must be submitted by:

  • The end of the academic year for summer opportunities
  • The third week of the fall or spring semester for semester-long opportunities

The student must also submit a reflective essay demonstrating how this experience fulfills the requirement for a community cross-cultural experience. Essays are due by the first day of classes (for summer experiences) or by the Sunday following that semester’s exam week (for experiences during a school semester).

Cross-cultural experience: Global

The student should demonstrate experience within a culture beyond his/her home culture and country. It is essential that travel programs include educational and service components. Possibilities include but are not limited to: Taft-sponsored service trips (e.g., Dominican Republic; Guatemala); Poole Grant travel; service/educational trips arranged through outside private or public funding; and exchange programs that makes use of Taft alumni and current families. Proposals require GSS department approval and must be submitted by:

  • January 1 for trips taking place over the following March break;
  • April 1 for trips taking place during the summer.

A reflective essay demonstrating how the student’s experience fulfills the requirement for a cross-cultural experience on a global level is due within 30 days of completing the trip.

Service

The service component of the Global Studies and Service Diploma may be completed in one of the following ways:

  • Fulfilling one of the Cross-Cultural Experience categories above;
  • Taking a GSS Service Learning course;
  • Creating and completing an ISP that involves a service component.

A reflective essay demonstrating how the student’s experience fulfills the service requirement is required only for those selecting the ISP option.

Language proficiency

The language proficiency requirement may be met through the successful completion of an Advanced Placement or Level 4 course in French, Spanish, Chinese, or Latin.

  • A student entering as a Mid and starting at Level 1 may receive a special exemption.
  • A student from abroad who is exempt from foreign language study at Taft will be exempt from the language requirement.

Also recommended: travel in a culture represented by the student’s language of study.

Course Work

The student must complete at least three semesters of work in courses offered by, or cross-listed with, the GSS Department:

  • AP Human Geography
  • Service Learning
  • Philosophy: Searching for Truth
  • The Influence of Buddhism in the West
  • Model UN
  • World Cinema
  • Literature of Civil Disobedience
  • AP Environmental
  • Honors Humanities
  • Honors Comparative Literature
  • AP Comparative Government
  • AP Capstone
  • Pox and Pestilence
  • Literature in the Developing World
  • Macroeconomics
  • Terror in the Name of God
  • Understanding Islamic Faith and Practice

Culminating Project

The project format will be determined in conjunction with the GSS Department, and might be a synthesis of the cross-cultural work the student has done. It may also be new, but an extension of that cross-cultural work. A public component to the project will be required; possibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • A presentation in Morning Meeting
  • A presentation at the ISP Fair

In-Person Reflection

After completing all of the above requirements, the student will meet with the members of the Global Studies and Service Department. This interview will last between 30 and 45 minutes, offering the student time to review and debrief his/her work as a GSS scholar and to reflect on his/her accomplishments.