Global Studies

Our world has never been in greater need of ethical, informed citizens who are able to move with purpose and compassion across cultural, political, and linguistic boundaries.

The Marvin Shagam Program for Ethics and Global Citizenship provides an avenue for Thacher students and faculty members to develop a global consciousness. 

Named after the late Marvin Shagam, a true global citizen who taught at Thacher for 60 years, the program seeks to develop ethics and global awareness, traits for which Mr. Shagam was known and honored. Global studies at Thacher reflect his commitment to an ethical, compassionate, multicultural, and global understanding of problems and solutions.

List of 4 items.

  • Global Studies Curriculum

    Freshman Year 

    All freshmen take a history class called “The West and the World,” an examination of how other parts of the world have responded to the spread liberalism, capitalism, and industrialization from the West. 

    Sophomore Year

    Sophomores elect trimester courses dedicated to aspects of non-Western history. Offerings focus on China, the Pacific Rim, Africa, Latin America, or the Middle East.

    Senior Year 

    Seniors can elect to take Contemporary Global Ethics. Topics in recent years have included the following:
    • Ethics in America and Affirmative Action: Endangered Species?
    • An In-depth Examination of Modern-day Terrorism
    • The 2018 Midterm Elections: Congressional Flip-flop?
    Several senior English Department courses reflect Mr. Shagam’s particular interest in international affairs, including The Literature of the Holocaust and Genocide.


    Instruction in foreign languages (Latin, French, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese) emphasizes the cultures associated with the target language.
  • Co-curricular Programs


    xBlock classes in current events, international affairs, and other global subjects provide opportunities for students to engage in discussions in informal settings.


    The School’s association with News-Decoder provides an avenue for students to submit articles, photo essays, and podcasts for international publication; exercise leadership in global-oriented activities; and work with professional journalists to improve their writing and presentation skills.


    Although independent from the Global Studies Program, student organizations like the Winston Churchill Debate Society, United Cultures of Thacher, Student Diversity Council, and Thacher Activism and Human Rights give students a practical forum in which to pursue their interests in affairs of global significance.
  • Cultural Immersion Travel

    The Marvin Shagam program offers culturally immersive trips to developing countries through its partnership with Where There Be Dragons, the respected student-travel organization. Past courses have traveled to Senegal, Cambodia, Bolivia, and India. 

    Each trip includes independent study projects, leadership roles, homestays, and exchanges with student groups and the NGO (non-governmental organization) communities in each country. 

    Students who apply for financial aid for off-campus study are awarded that aid at a level commensurate with their tuition package. All Thacher students applying for aid will be granted the equivalent of one full course (trip) tuition during their Thacher careers.

    Faculty on the Global Studies Committee act as counselors for those students wishing to pursue international studies independently through travel organizations not directly affiliated with the school.
  • Visiting Scholars

    The School invites off-campus academics and other luminaries whose work has a global perspective or reach to spend time in our community as speakers or resident scholars.

    Recent speakers:
    • Dr. John Lenczowski CdeP 1967, founder of the Institute of World Politics and former director of European and Soviet Affairs, National Security Council.
    • Mr. Nelson Graves, founder and director of News-Decoder, former journalist for Reuters

—Katherine Halsey

“Mr. Shagam challenged kids to imagine connecting the privilege of what they experienced here, an obligation, a responsibility to take those gifts out into the world and put them to good use in service to others.”
Notice of nondiscriminatory policy as to students: The Thacher School admits students of any race, color, national, and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the School. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national, and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admission policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other School-administered programs.