In addition to the required Ethics and Leadership and Introduction to Arabic and Chinese courses, each student takes a full load of honors/AP-level junior year courses. Required courses are determined by each sending school’s requirements; in general, each student takes a core schedule of English, social studies, math, foreign language, and science classes. In particular, SEGL offers AP-level English (required of all students), AP-level U.S. History, AP-level Comparative Government & Politics (preparing students for the AP exam in a single semester), AP-level and Intermediate Spanish, AP-level and Intermediate French, AP-level AB and BC Calculus, Precalculus, AP-level and Introductory Physics, and AP-level and Introductory Chemistry (all science courses are “lab” sciences). With approval, students may also take independent studies.
Students who choose to take Advanced Placement (AP) and/or SAT II subject tests that correspond to SEGL course offerings will be well prepared for them, and all courses allow students to reintegrate smoothly into honors classrooms at their home schools.
English class readings balance American and international writers (with some attention to the 11th grade literature “canon”), and emphasize diversity of experience and background. Written assignments range from ongoing journal entries to formal expository and persuasive writing. Though the course does not teach specifically to the AP English Language and Composition exam, a student taking first semester English at SEGL will be prepared to enter the second semester of AP English at her or his sending school and/or to take the AP exam. The course provides outstanding preparation for the most demanding undergraduate programs, and aligns closely with the academic requirements at SEGL’s sending schools. Sample coursework: SEGL English students might read Orwell’s “Shooting an Elephant”; the ensuring class discussion might tackle the protagonist’s complex ethical dilemma, the psychology of colonialism, and how Orwell uses the narrative to advance a political point. Later, students might compare the essay with a journal entry written by an American soldier with a positive view of the Iraq War, and write “Shooting an Elephant”-style essays from their own experiences and political viewpoints.
U.S History at SEGL follows the standard historical sequence, with special attention given to the ethical dilemmas of American leaders, the causes and impact of U.S. foreign policy decisions, and the philosophical and constitutional foundations of American democracy. The course also provides outstanding preparation for the most demanding undergraduate programs, and closely aligns with the academic requirements at SEGL’s sending schools. Although the course does not teach specifically to the AP exam, significant time will be given to the AP curriculum and evaluative methods, and students who so choose will be prepared for that test. A student taking first semester U.S. History at SEGL will be prepared to enter the second semester (standard or AP level) at her or his sending school. Sample coursework: First semester SEGL U.S. History students might conduct a mock Constitutional Convention in which they role-play various framers; they might then evaluate how modern Supreme Court justices ought to interpret the Constitution. Second semester students might participate in a mock trial of President Harry Truman in which varying U.S. and Japanese perspective are given on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; they might then write a short essay outlining under what circumstances they believe the U.S. would be justified in using nuclear weapons in the future.
Comparative Government and Politics
Comparative Government and Politics is a semester-long course that closely follows the College Board’s AP curriculum, and prepares students directly to take the AP exam in a single semester. Students study six countries and their political structure: China, Great Britain, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, and Russia. Students might give campaign speeches as prominent Iranian leaders in a mock election, meet with the Executive Director at the Laogai Museum to discuss the quarter century he spent as a political prisoner in China, or discuss the current crisis in Ukraine with Russian Diplomats while enjoying tea in the ceremonial building at the Russian Embassy. Many students who will not take a language or science course at SEGL enroll in Comparative Government and Politics. Students who take the course in the spring will be able to take the AP exam in May while in DC.
United States Government and Politics
U.S. Government and Politics is a semester-long course that closely follows the College Board’s AP curriculum, and prepares students to take the AP exam in a single semester. Students study constitutional foundations, civil rights and civil liberties, the presidency, Congress, and the courts, as well as aspects of American political behavior such as voting and campaigns. Taking full advantage of the opportunities available in D.C., students often visit the National Archives to see the original Constitution, the Capitol to discuss the inner workings of the Ways and Means Committee, and the Supreme Court. Additionally, they might engage in a moot court of the infamous Marbury v. Madison case, meet with top lobbyists from BP, or deliver arguments on the Hobby Lobby case to guest judges including attorneys from top D.C. law firms and the Department of Justice. Students who enroll in the spring will be able to take the AP exam in May while in DC.
This algebra-based physics course is designed to complement students’ introductory physics experience at their individual sending schools. In keeping with SEGL’s mission, this course also exposes students to the ways in which ethics play into the study of science. In the fall semester students engage in a laboratory-based study of the principles of classical mechanics including motion, force, work, and energy. In the spring semester students focus on electricity, magnetism, waves, and optics. While this physics course does not require calculus, students should be prepared to apply their algebraic problem-solving skills.
The semester-long laboratory course in chemistry is designed to either prepare students to re-enter the introductory chemistry course at their sending school (fall semester) or facilitate the completion of an introductory chemistry experience (spring semester). This inquiry-based course places an emphasis on developing students’ qualitative and quantitative analysis skills while introducing them to basic principles of chemistry.
French and Spanish
SEGL offers advanced and intermediate French and Spanish, as well as the required introductory Arabic and Chinese Language and Culture course as part of Ethics and Leadership. The French and Spanish courses provide traditional language basics, with special emphasis on cultural understanding (government structures, ethical norms, etc., rather than food, holidays, etc) and diplomacy. A student taking first semester advanced French or Spanish at SEGL will be prepared to enter the second semester of the course (standard or AP level) at her or his sending school.
SEGL is committed to allowing students to study any language they choose while in DC. In the past, we have had students continue their studies in Latin, Chinese, and Japanese, as well as AP Spanish Literature. Those who wish to take such languages may arrange to do so for an additional fee.
SEGL offers AB Calculus, BC Calculus, and two levels of honors Precalculus (preparing students for immersion into AB or BC Calculus in their senior year). A student taking first semester mathematics at SEGL will be prepared to enter the second semester of the appropriate course at her or his sending school.
Sample coursework: SEGL math students might work through Bentham’s utilitarian calculus for determining the ethical value of an action and then discuss the merits of measuring such things. They might collaborate with humanitarian nonprofits to design actual civil engineering projects that require the use of trigonometry and calculus. Or they might spend time analyzing how different political groups use statistics to make different points about immigration reform, and then develop their own recommendations given their research.
Occasionally a student may wish to complete a course not normally offered as part of SEGL’s curriculum. Such a course is designated as an “Independent Study” and will receive full credit as one course. However the course’s syllabus, texts, and teaching materials must be provided by a student’s sending school or through some other arrangement. The approval of the Academic Dean is required for all independent courses. The role of SEGL teachers in these courses is to:
- schedule regular class meetings; these will be listed as an official part of the student’s daily class schedule
- assignments and homework based on the course materials provided
- monitor student preparation for class sessions
- participate, when appropriate, in discussions about course topics
- administer test or quizzes according a schedule set by a syllabus or through consultation with students
- evaluate student achievement using the school’s grading standards, at the midterm and the end of the semester.