The School of Foreign Service announced a new partnership Aug. 12 that will pave the way for high school students to participate in a well-known international affairs course offered by the university.
In partnership with the National Education Equity Lab, an organization that facilitates connections between historically underserved communities and universities, 150 to 200 students will be able to take the renowned geography course for SFS students, “Map of the Modern World.” These students come from select Title I high schools in Florida and New York, at which at least 35% of students qualify for free or reduced lunch.
The collaborative program will help high school students develop an interest in international affairs while preparing for college, according to Vice Dean for Undergraduate Affairs Mark Giordano, who teaches “Map of the Modern World.”
“The reason for doing it is partly to help get the message out to high school students earlier about the importance of global understanding,” Giordano said in a phone interview with The Hoya. “It’s an opportunity for these students to earn Georgetown credit they can transfer elsewhere, and partly we’re hoping it expands the type of students that are going to apply to Georgetown.”
Students will be able to integrate the coursework into their daily high school experience by watching lectures asynchronously. In addition, students taking the course will meet virtually once a week for a discussion section with a teaching assistant. Teachers from the qualifying high schools will also be trained to support their students with technological and content-related issues.
Connecting high school students with these opportunities highlights the university’s Jesuit value of engaging with the world as people for others, according to Dr. Scott Taylor, vice dean for diversity, equity and inclusion in the SFS.
“There are so many great, smart and capable high school students from diverse backgrounds out there who will have so much to contribute to international affairs,” Taylor wrote. “Some will be future SFS students; others will go elsewhere. It is extremely rewarding to assist with cultivating their interest, and their talents, through these outreach programs.”
In addition to the coursework, the collaboration will also feature information sessions about Georgetown and panel discussions with students and deans.
The extracurricular programs offered by the program will provide students with an enriching experience, according to Melissa Karakash, admissions coordinator for diversity, equity and inclusion at the SFS.
“We also plan to supplement the course with opportunities for the students to virtually meet with professionals in global affairs to expand their perceptions of what a degree in international relations can allow them to do,” Karakash wrote in an email to The Hoya. “We hope to help students gain a deeper understanding of the world and the forces and influences that are fundamental to its functioning.”
While the enrollment for “Map” will increase to include sections for participating high school students, the partnership will not change how the class operates, according to Giordano.
“There will be no impact on how we do things on the main campus because the whole class is online this semester, or at least the lecture part is online,” Giordano said. “I hired extra TAs who will work with the high schools, so it’ll have no effect on the main campus.”
The collaboration with NEEL builds on the work of the SFS diversity, equity and inclusion committee in establishing the Future Global Leaders Fellowship scholarship program this summer, which distributed education funds to 20 students from the Washington, D.C. area. Students selected for the scholarships were able to enroll in one of two week-long high school summer programs at Georgetown, “International Relations Academy” and “Washington & the World Academy.”
The goals of the FGLF program have much in common with those of the NEEL collaboration, according to Carla Koppell, senior advisor for diversity, equity and inclusion at the SFS.
“The partnership with the Equity Lab was really born of that commitment to try to broaden interest and awareness of international affairs and of Georgetown University in communities that otherwise might not have the kind of contact or introduction,” Koppell said in a phone interview with The Hoya.
The two initiatives come as part of the SFS’ broader efforts to promote global anti-racism within the study of international relations under its office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The DEI office was established after students, staff and faculty called on the university to address racial injustice on campus amid nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd in May 2020.
Programs like the FGLF and the SFS’ collaboration with NEEL are emblematic of the SFS’ missions and will positively impact the lives of many students, according to Taylor.
“This is Georgetown and SFS at their best: people for others and fulfilling our mission of service,” Taylor wrote.