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SM III Formers Present Global Infectious Disease Projects

SM III Formers Present Global Infectious Disease Projects
Mallory Munro

St. Mark's III Formers participating in this year's Global Seminar have been working on collaborative projects focusing on the impact of globalization and a variety of other factors on the spread of infectious diseases. Mentored by V Form biology students, the III Form students have worked for several weeks on the research and writing involved in this project. On Monday evening, April 29, the groups presented the results of their research in the form of a poster presentation, similar to poster presentations given at science fairs and academic conferences.

"This year's Infectious Disease Poster Project, a collaboration between the III Form Global Seminar students and the V Form biology students, was once again a great success!" said Dr. Laura Appell-Warren, director of Global Citizenship at St. Mark's. "The students learned important information about infectious diseases, how they move easily in a globalized world, and how the spread of the disease is impacted by a variety of factors such as globalization and climate change. They also learned how access to resources can have a dramatic effect on the impact a disease has on a population. This year, students added more diseases that are particular to the western world, like measles, and they studied both the impact of the anti vaccination movement and the spread of antibiotic resistant infections like MSRA. The students should be proud of the work that they did."

Dr. Warren introduces the poster project assignment by telling the III Formers: "Do not get any ideas yet—this is a poster project unlike any poster project you have ever done before!" Indeed it is different, requiring as it does a level of complex research, analysis and formal presentation previously unfamiliar to most of them.

The project was designed according to the global competencies discussed by Veronica Boix-Mansilla and Anthony Jackson in their book Educating for Global Competence: Preparing Our Youth to Engage the World. In addition, it is designed to mirror the "real world" environment St. Markers will be entering as workers in a global economy. Third Formers are thus paired with older mentors from the School's biology classes, mirroring the real-world scenario where one might work with people of varying ages and levels of familiarity. They are also required to do some work with students not in their section (with different schedules), also reflecting the real world where collaborators work asynchronously with people in different time zones and in different parts of the world. "Of course," notes Dr. Warren, "among the most important 21st century skills are collaboration and perspective-taking, all woven into the assignment!"

The purpose of the Global Seminar is to set the foundational stage for students' understanding of global citizenship. Through an examination of ongoing aspects of globalization, students gain an understanding of the larger forces at play in the 21st century interconnected and interdependent world. Topics covered include the history of globalization, trade and economics, infectious disease, peacekeeping, human rights, technology, the environment and sustainability, and gender politics. Significant world events are addressed as they occur, and students are encouraged to hone their understanding of interconnected systems as they strive to understand current events within local and global contexts. Perspective-taking, a sense of common humanity, recognition of individual and collective responsibility, and a commitment to social justice and equity—all core values of global citizenship—are explicitly addressed throughout the course.

Throughout the year, students learn and use essential skills that will help them succeed at St. Mark's and beyond, such as good habits of organization and daily preparation. They develop proficiency in communicating their ideas in spoken, written, and electronic forms. Students also learn the skills of researching and writing an analytical paper and are encouraged to take an active and collaborative role in their learning through individual and group projects like the Infectious Disease poster exercise.

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