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The Student News Site of Marlborough School

The UltraViolet

The Student News Site of Marlborough School

The UltraViolet

Lizze Small Contributing Illustrator
How to help our Earth
April 12, 2024

Semester one recap on the GFI seminar course

Contributing+Illustrator+Christina+24
Contributing Illustrator Christina ’24

The Global Futures Institute (GFI) launched its first seminar class this semester, taught by History and Social Sciences Department Head Mabel Wong. The course is currently being taken by half of the GFI program, comprised of 27 students from the Class of 2026. The rest of GFI had a free period this fall and will take the seminar in the second semester. The initial plan at the end of last year was to accept around 15 students, but GFI generated more excitement than the teachers had anticipated. 

“For the past two years [of building the program], we were hoping to get maybe five students that might be interested,” Director of Studies Jonathon Allen said. “So the fact that we have 27 students [and] two sections was a very pleasant surprise.”

The students have a required course list they must take before graduating, along with the GFI seminars each year. These requirements also include completing an Honors Research Project focused on one of the GFI pillars: environmental futures, the future of democracy or global identities. Seminar one has been an introduction to all future studies and teaches students how they should think about approaching the world’s future problems.

“The class is really focused on introducing students to the toolkit of future studies: how to think like a global futurist,” Wong said. “So we are thinking about issues across different spatial skills — local, national, global, planetary —  and also across different temporal frames — past, present and perhaps, most importantly, future. And when it comes to thinking about the future, we think in terms of plural ‘futures,’  not just the future that is most probable based on current trends, but the future we would rather have instead, a ‘preferable future.’”

As the program gains its footing, the faculty has some longer-term goals they hope to achieve, primarily international travel opportunities for GFI. Dean of External Student Programs Eric Reinholtz is spearheading this. He believes that international travel should be essential for students to complete their GFI diploma. 

“The goal of GFI is that somebody gains global awareness,” Reinholtz said. “It’s very difficult to gain a global awareness without moving outside of your familiarity zones or comfort zone.”

So far, students in the first-semester seminar have had positive reactions to the GFI curriculum, specifically how the lessons relate to breaking news around them as the class predicts possible outcomes for different global issues.

“Living in the U.S. and going to Marlborough, you have a very American-centric view of the world, whereas when you take this class, it really opens up your view,” Sofia ‘26 said. “Personally, I find it interesting because I like history and I like that it’s applicable to my own life.”

GFI is just getting started and the class is looking forward to another packed semester. In February, the first of many highly anticipated diplomat speakers is expected. Bozoma Saint John is the Ambassador for the African Diaspora and Special Envoy to the President of Ghana and will speak on her experience as a global citizen.

“What we’re trying to do, that schools do not do, is specifically scaffold the skills and train students to become responsible global citizens of the future,” Allen said.  “I think that that’s exciting.”

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Dalton '24, Co-Managing Editor and Head of Politics
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