The points-based framework of Sewickley Academy's Global Studies Certificate Program emphasizes four learning domains and creates flexible pathways for students to meet the requirements of each domain while charting a path that will allow them to pursue their unique interests.
The four learning domains are Language Study, Global Issues Study, Cultural Engagement, and Global Action. Each provides a focus for a student’s path to the Global Studies Certificate. In order to receive the Global Studies Certificate students need to earn a total of 1,000 points, 200 in each of the four Certificate domains,  and 200 additional floating points to be earned in their domains of interest. 

  • Students may choose from several year-long or trimester-long Global Studies courses published by the Global Studies Department in the Senior School Catalog.
  • Students are encouraged to chart their own paths and be creative in imagining for themselves a meaningful and personally enriching pathway.
  • Candidates may enroll in the spring of their Grade 8 year or in Grades 9 or 10.
  • Students are encouraged to enroll as soon as possible to allow for more flexibility to design a program that will meet his or her needs.
  • Successful candidates will possess a desire to learn about people, cultures, and places that are very different from their own.
  • While there is no GPA minimum required for participation, Global Studies Certificate candidates will be successful students who have demonstrated an ability to handle a range of academic and extra-curricular demands.
  • Candidates should see themselves as the architects of their experiences rather than as passive consumers of experiences that have been designed by others.
  • Curiosity, imagination, and a willingness to take personal risks to stretch oneself even to the point of discomfort are qualities that will best suit a candidate.
Domains of Study

Through the framework of a points-based system, the Global Studies Certificate Program for Senior School students centers measurable student learning within four domains. Meaningful work in each of these domains, coupled with reflective practice that speaks to the way students are holistically integrating their work in each of these domains, is at the heart of the Global Studies experience. The domains are Global Issues Study, Cultural Engagement, Language Study, and Global Action.

Global Issues Study

Global Issues Study includes all of those relevant academic experiences students undertake as part of a regular academic curriculum at Sewickley Academy, at one of our exchange partner schools, or at any other Global Studies-approved academic course that is not a world language course. The Global Studies department publishes a current list of these courses in the Senior School Course Catalog every year. (Not all courses at Sewickley Academy or another academic institution meet the criteria for the Global Issues Study domain.) The minimum requirement for the Global Issues Study domain is 200 points.

Cultural Engagement

Cultural Engagement includes experiences that have a bearing on one’s ability to formulate a globally-informed personal identity. These activities range from ones as complex as a semester-long homestay in another country to ones as simple as attending and reflecting on a concert by a South African band (classroom experiences do not qualify). The intention of this domain is for the student to engage in mutually enriching cultural interactions that will ultimately lead to building positive cross-cultural partnerships. The minimum requirement for the Cultural Engagement domain is 200 points.

Language Study

Language Study includes any relevant academic experience students undertake as part of the modern world language academic curriculum at Sewickley Academy or at one of our exchange partner schools. The intention of this domain is to impart to the student full-spectrum fluency in a language other than English that they can use to help formulate a globally-informed personal identity. The minimum requirement for the Language Studies domain is 200 points.

Global Action

Global Action calls on students to exercise their ingenuity and commitment to the betterment of humanity by creating a self-directed service-learning project. This work should directly engage a question/concept/theme/problem that is global in nature or that is occurring in another country or culture. The Global Action domain is unique among the four insofar as it expects the student to integrate not only the other three certificate domains but also the three core principles of the Academy's mission. Global Action is "hands" in action, inspired by "hearts," and informed by "minds." Students aspiring to build rich, nuanced global identities are encouraged in this domain to determine ways in which their engagement with other cultures can inspire them to give back in ways that they couldn't even imagine if they were not a Global Studies student. In the spirit of the new Global Studies certificate program, how students engage the Global Action domain is up to them and their creativity.
Visit the FAQs for an example of a Global Action project.
The minimum requirement in each domain (200) will bring a student to 800 points. The total required points is 1,000, and the balance of points needed (200) may be earned in any of the four domains.
Frequently Asked Questions

List of 16 frequently asked questions.

  • Who is eligible to apply for the Global Studies Certificate program?

    Grade 8, 9, and 10 students who are looking for ways to challenge themselves to step beyond their comfort zone and engage with people of another culture may enroll in the Global Studies Certificate program.
  • Does a Global Studies student receive a different diploma?

    No. Students receive a Global Studies Certificate at graduation if they fulfill the program requirements. Global Studies Certificate students accumulate points in four domains. The requirement is to earn 1,000 points (200 points minimum in each domain, plus 200 floating points that can be accumulated in any of the four domains and linked to a student’s specific interest or passion).
  • Who will guide me through the Global Studies program?

    A Global Studies Certificate Program Coordinator will guide each Global Studies student through the program. The Global Studies Coordinator will collaborate with the student’s academic advisor to encourage exploration and make suggestions for ways to earn points in the various domains.
  • Is parental approval required in order to apply?

    Yes, a parent signature is required on the enrollment form.
  • When and how do I enroll?

    Students may enroll in the program as early as the third trimester of Grade 8; Grade 9 and 10 students may enroll at any time.

    Interested students should contact the Global Studies Program Coordinator at to obtain the link to the Enrollment Form and Global Studies Student Handbook. 
  • What Sewickley Academy travel experiences are planned for the next two years?

    Travel experiences vary each year. The details are updated on the GS Resource page and on the SA website.
  • How can I find a travel experience that will help me meet the requirements?

    Students may join one of the existing SA-sponsored trips led by faculty, or design a travel experience of their own. Students planning their own travel should consult with the Global Studies Coordinator to determine whether or not a proposed trip will meet the requirements, and how many points and in which domains could be awarded.
  • Is funding available for travel as part of the GS program?

    Travel grants are available through the Global Studies Office. Students who would like to apply for a grant should contact the Global Studies  Coordinator for a link to the online application.
  • Is there a GPA requirement associated with the Global Studies Certificate program?

    There is no GPA requirement, but students should be in good academic standing and be able to manage the increased demands that will come as a result of participation in the program.
  • I'm a junior now. Can I enroll in the program?

    Unfortunately, the window for enrollment in the program closes at the end of the sophomore year after classes have been scheduled for the junior year. Rising seniors do not have enough time to accumulate 1,000 points.
  • I love languages! Is there a way to earn points by taking more language courses?

    Yes! The Global Studies Office believes that language study is central to becoming a global citizen and as such, has created an entire Language Study domain. You will receive 60 points for each of the first three years you study a language in the Senior School (regardless of level), and 90 points for the fourth year of ANY language, since that goes above and beyond the graduation requirement of three years. Additionally, 90 points will be awarded for each year of a second world language.
  • My family has planned a trip abroad this summer. Will this count for Global Studies points?

    With appropriate documentation (i.e., artifacts, e-portfolio reflection), a maximum of 50 Cultural Engagement points may be awarded for one family trip over the course of the SA Senior School career, starting with the summer following Grade 8. Global Action points will be counted at 3 points/service hour.
  • What is an example of a Global Action project?

    A student who is studying Spanish and takes a literature class in Spanish and a history course about Latin America might be moved to engage in a service-learning project in a nation in Latin America. Perhaps the student has made a connection through an Academy teacher to a student at a school in Costa Rica. The SA student, building a relationship with students at that school, might learn that the school has a particular need. The SA student might then formulate a response to that need with the partnership of the Costa Rican student and propose that response as a Global Action project. Global Studies Program Coordinator is available to students to help them formulate their Global Action projects.
  • What if I do not have the opportunity to travel abroad to perform Global Action?

    International travel is not required in order to complete the GS Certificate program.

    Global Action projects can be initiated and completed locally in partnership with local non-profit global service organizations that offer volunteer opportunities. Creative thinking and initiative on the part of the student, as well as demonstrating a passion for being part of the solution to a global problem are central to understanding the spirit of global action.

    Local organizations such as World Vision, Global Links, etc. offer great volunteer opportunities for globally focused work.
  • How are my points awarded/recorded in the course of the program?

    In order to be awarded points, it is insufficient just to have experiences like travel, hosting, or global service work. Every experience needs to be connected to the Global Studies Essential Questions and to address at least one of them in a thoughtful student reflection submitted to the e-portfolio. Supporting materials, such as photos, videos, digital artifacts should accompany every portfolio entry. Global Studies Program Coordinator evaluates each outside-of-classroom experience and records points in the individual progress card.  Points for the coursework at the Academy are awarded at the end of each trimester or year respectively.  
  • How can I share my Global Studies work with colleges?

    Students’  progress and learning in the program will be recorded in their personal electronic portfolio, currently in the form of a Google Site. Students are encouraged to personalize and expand their portfolios so that it becomes a cloud-based story of their growth and artifacts of accomplishment, easily shareable as a showcase during the college application process.