New IB Global Politics class compares US government to others around the world

Given her background in law, social studies teacher Patricia Coppolino said she wanted to go back to her roots.
The new IB Global Politics course, which will be available to students next year, introduces a social studies course built around current events.

Coppolino said teaching government is “kind of the reason that I got into teaching to begin with. It just brings together a lot of interests that I’ve always had.”

Global politics focuses on the structure of the U.S. government compared to other governments around the world, analyzing relationships between countries as well as factoring in international organizations and non-governmental organizations.

“The course is actually divided into four sections,” she said. “You look at four topics: power sovereignty and international relations, human rights, development and peace and conflict.”

The class also focuses on immigration patterns, which Coppolino said can be relevant to students today.

“I think it also helps a lot of students understand their own family stories,” she said. “If your family came here from somewhere else, there’s usually a reason why. A lot of times those reasons are rooted in some of these concepts that we’ve talked about.”

A highlight of the course is the Internal Assessment (IA), which Coppolino said is focused on real world interactions, from working with immigration groups in Washington, D.C. or getting an internship with a global development company.

“In this case, [the IA is] very wide open,” Coppolino said. “There’s a lot of different ways to approach it, but the expectation is that you’re going to go out and do something in the real world, and then make that the center of your IA.”

Social Studies teacher David Gassmann said global politics is a potential next step after taking U.S. and Virginia Government in sophomore year.

“I think part of the thinking behind offering IB Global Politics is that it takes some of the themes from US/VA Government and finishes that pattern,” Gassmann said. He said global politics answers how policy affects countries’ interactions.

He said the class applies to how governments work and interact with each other, and it looks at people solving current issues.

Gassmann said although economics and government “touch on this too, global politics could be interesting with more direct connections to current events. I love World War Two as much as the next guy, but we pretty much solved that one.”