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

    First Year 

    All first year students take “World History.” As part of that class students are introduced to current events and media studies that help students learn to vet news sources and information from around the world.

    Sophomore Year

    Sophomores elect trimester courses dedicated to aspects of global history. Annual offerings vary, but have included China, the Pacific Rim, Korea, Africa, Latin America, Native American topics, Chicano studies, and the Middle East.

    Junior Year

    All juniors take the Honors US History course where among other topics they learn about the history of US foreign policy and continue their studies of current events.

    Senior Year

    Seniors can elect to take Contemporary Global Ethics. Topics in recent years have included the following:
    • Two Americas - based on a 1967 Dr. Martin Luther King speech - on social justice
    • Affirmative action
    • Gender inequality
    • Gun violence
    • Private Schools 
    Several senior English Department courses reflect Mr. Shagam’s particular interest in international affairs, including The Empire Strikes Back: Immigrant and Diasporic Voices in American and English Literature. 

    Instruction in world languages (Latin, 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. Recent xBlocks include Journalism and Global Citizenship in partnership with our News Decoder Program and the school newspaper, The Notes; German for Beginners, The History of Ukraine and Russia, and Japan.


    The School’s award-winning 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. Additionally, Thacher students have co-produced webinars with international partner schools in the News-Decoder network including Transylvania College in Cluj, Romania on nationalism and climate change and the European School of Brussels II and their Climate Academy, which is intended to serve as a deeper partnership on climate science and sustainability between the two schools.

    On-Campus Organizations

    Although independent from the Global Studies Program, student organizations like the DEI Office, Student Diversity Council, Environmental Activism Committee, United Cultures of Thacher, Winston Churchill Debate Society, Model UN Club, and Thacher Activism and Human Rights give students a practical forum in which to pursue their interests in affairs of global significance.

    Local Organizations

    The Marvin Shagam program is helping to foster culturally responsive relationships with local Chumash leaders to support Chumash cultural revitalization efforts in the Ojai Valley. School organizations involved in this work include the History and Science Departments, the DEI Office, and the Environmental Action Committee. 

    Regional Organizations

    The Marvin Shagam program is supporting efforts to connect school curriculum and programming with the ongoing work of regional organizations and institutions like Ojai Valley Museum, the Santa Barbara Historic Preservation Society, the University of California Santa Barbara, the Museum of Tolerance and the Japanese American National Museum in LA. 
  • International Travel

    The Marvin Shagam program offers culturally immersive trips. Past groups have traveled to Senegal, Cambodia, Bolivia, and India. Upcoming trips include Japan and the Island School in the Bahamas.

    Students who apply for financial aid for off-campus study are awarded that aid at a level commensurate with their tuition package.
    The Marvin Shagam Program also provides resources and counseling for those students wishing to pursue international studies independently through travel organizations not directly affiliated with the school.

    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.
    • Dr. Susan Kamei, Managing Director of the Spatial Sciences Institute housed in the University of Southern California Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences (USC Dornsife), and expert on the legal ramifications of the World War II incarceration of persons of Japanese ancestry and how those constitutional issues apply to today's considerations of national security and civil liberties.
    • Dr. Howard French, Professor in Journalism at Columbia University, longtime foreign correspondent and senior writer for the New York Times, and author of multiple books on the countries where he has been stationed, including work on China, China’s growing influence in Africa, and the role of Africa in the creation of modernity.
    • Dr. Nicole Hernandez, Project Planner and Historian for the City of Santa Barbara.
    • Suriya Evans-Pritchard Jayanti CdeP 2000, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center, the co-founder and managing director of Eney, a US-Ukrainian decarbonization company, and a former US Diplomat.
    • Dr. Julia Aleksyeva, Assistant Professor of English, Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, and author of Soviet Daughter, which looks at coming of age in a Jewish family in Ukraine at the end of the Soviet Union.
    • Matthew Pye, founder of the Climate Academy at the European School of Brussels II, philosophy teacher, and partner with the Thacher School through the News-Decoder network.

—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.”
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