The School for Ethics and Global Leadership

SEGL in Washington, DC

Washington, DC is SEGL’s flagship campus. Washington, DC is a diverse and invigorating city. DC is not only the center of our political universe; it is also full of passionate personalities, fascinating neighborhoods, and vibrant artistic offerings.

Imagine studying North Korean politics in a State Department conference room, or discussing HIV/AIDS policy at the South African embassy, or playing ultimate frisbee on the National Mall, or running into a Senator on your walk to school.

It all happens here.


Course Offerings

SEGL courses are taught at the junior year honors and AP-level. Generally, each student takes a core schedule of English, history, math, foreign language, and science classes, in addition to the required Ethics & Leadership class (which includes the Introductory Arabic and Mandarin course).

Ethics & Leadership (required)

The Ethics and Leadership course is at the heart of SEGL’s mission. The course introduces ethical critical thinking and develops leadership skills, including public speaking, debate, and the understanding of group dynamics. Students use case studies, simulations, intensive discussions, readings, and interactions with distinguished guest speakers to develop these skills. Learn more about this unique course offering on the Ethics and Leadership page.

At SEGL in DC, Ethics and Leadership also includes an introductory Arabic and Mandarin course that meets once a week. This course aims to give students a practical introduction to the Arabic and Mandarin languages and cultures and to spark their interest in future study at the post-secondary level. All students attend each weekly session. Roughly half of the class meetings focus on practical language basics, and half of the class meetings focus on applying those skills to current events and cultural norms. Ethical questions about cultural relativism, American “exceptionalism,” empathy, and capitalism are woven into class discussions.

English (required)
SEGL’s English class balances American and international writers (with some attention to the 11th grade literature “canon”), and emphasizes 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 or Literature and Composition exams, students taking English at SEGL will be prepared to enter the second semester of AP English at their sending school and/or to take the AP exams. The course provides outstanding preparation for the most demanding undergraduate programs, and aligns closely with the academic requirements at SEGL’s sending schools.
History: United States History
United States History at SEGL follows the standard historical sequence, with special attention given to the ethical dilemmas of American leaders, the causes and impact of United States 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. Students taking United States History at SEGL will be prepared to enter the second semester (standard or AP level) at their sending schools, and/or to take the AP exam.
History: 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, The United Kingdom, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, and Russia. Students also participate in debates, discussions, simulations, and occasional guest speaker sessions that are designed to allow them to explore their own beliefs about what ethical governments look like. 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.

SEGL offers both advanced and intermediate French and Spanish. 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. Students 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 their sending schools.

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, Mandarin, and Japanese, as well as AP Spanish Literature. If a student is taking a language at home that SEGL does not offer, we may be able to arrange for a tutor to work with that student (or a small group of students) for an additional fee; the School considers financial aid when charging this fee.

SEGL offers AB Calculus, BC Calculus, and Precalculus. Students taking first semester mathematics at SEGL will be prepared to enter the second semester of the appropriate course at their sending schools. We survey sending school teachers to ensure close alignment with their curricula and often develop tracks within each class for students working at different paces.
Science: Chemistry
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. SEGL also offers AP-level Chemistry, which is designed to track the Advanced Placement curriculum.
Science: Physics
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. SEGL also offers AP-level Physics, which is designed to track the Advanced Placement curriculum for Physics 1: Algebra-based.
Independent Study
Occasionally a student may be required 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. The approval of the SEGL Academic Dean is required for this type of independent study, along with extensive commitment from the student and the sending school teacher. Final, written approval is required by the sending school before the semester begins. The course syllabus, texts, and teaching materials must be provided by a student’s sending school. 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. SEGL faculty also participate, when appropriate, in discussions about course topics and administer tests or quizzes according to a schedule set by a syllabus or through consultation with students.


The academic schedule at SEGL in DC is challenging and engaging. Beyond spending time in their classes, students can expect 40 minutes for lunch each day and, on average, four study halls a week. In addition to Monday morning and Friday afternoon, our entire Wednesday is turned over to the Ethics and Leadership course, which provides an exciting break in our weekly schedule. Oftentimes, this takes the form of DC site visits and conversations with guest speakers. (See our Ethics and Leadership page for more details.) We also have a weekly School Meeting, and a Friday night Flex Period. Popular Flex Period sessions have included discussions on race and identity, self-care techniques, financial fitness, physical well-being, yoga, college counseling, and an occasional movie. Later in the semester, Flex Period topics are tailored more toward student requests, with students often serving as lead planners and facilitators.

Academic studies at SEGL are rigorous, and adequate time and space are allotted to help ensure students can properly manage their course load. Study hall begins after dinner each weeknight. At this time, quiet hours begin and rooms become silent study spaces. Need to study for an exam before then and can’t seem to focus in the dorm? No problem. Students can often take advantage of the historic Library of Congress, a mere 2-minute walk from the dorm, which offers indoor and outdoor study spaces and free WiFi. Check-in on weeknights is at 10:00pm, at which point students cubby their phones and return to their respective floors and start getting ready for bed.

Sample Schedule

Here is a sample schedule. Note that each student’s schedule varies based on course load.

Grading Policies

Grades are awarded on an A-F scale. Though it is possible to earn an A+ on an individual assignment, SEGL does not award a final grade of A+. For the purposes of the student’s sending school GPA, all SEGL courses should be weighted as honors or AP level; sending schools are notified of this standard before the semester begins, and on each student’s official transcript.

Twice a semester, at midterm and semester end, a student will receive grades, comments, and an advisor letter that documents their progress at SEGL. These records will be sent home and to the student’s sending school. The midterm grades and comments are indicators and are not intended for use on a transcript, while the final grades and comments will be sent to colleges.

Faculty Advising

SEGL students are well supported! Students are assigned to a faculty advisor at the start of the semester; advisors typically have 1-3 advisees each. SEGL students have small group check-ins and/or individual meetings with their advisor once a week to discuss academic and social progress. The SEGL advisor is also the primary contact for families for information on the student’s academic and interpersonal wellbeing, and often serves as a source of support and a sounding board.

Standardized Testing

SEGL provides a high level of academic rigor that is designed to develop critical thinking skills while preparing interested students for success on standardized exams. SEGL in DC arranges for students to take the PSAT in the fall semester (at a local school) and Advanced Placement tests in the spring (at SEGL), using their home school’s AI code. The School assumes all fall semester students will take the PSAT unless families indicate otherwise; fall semester students must register for any needed AP exams with their sending school. Spring semester students will have the opportunity to indicate which AP exams they plan to take while at SEGL.

SEGL requires students to schedule standardized testing for the SAT, SAT II, and/or ACT outside of their semester: fall semester SEGL students should test in the spring, and spring semester SEGL students should test in the fall.

DC-area College Counseling

SEGL in Washington, DC provides college counseling for students during the academic year as they begin the college admissions process. SEGL has a consulting college counselor Dr. Pamela Ellis ( who provides well-informed college counseling to our students each semester. Dr. Ellis (an SEGL graduate parent) shares trends, timeline recommendations, college process worksheets, and general advice on a pro bono basis.

Both group sessions and one-on-one counseling are available each semester. College selection, admissions requirements, testing program choices, and essay writing skills are significant elements of this work. Our faculty expertise includes extensive college counseling experience at highly competitive preparatory schools, service on college admissions committees, and professional training. These strengths enable students to gain the perspective and confidence they need as they begin to make plans for life after high school.

Students also have the opportunity to visit SEGL graduates at colleges and universities in the Washington, DC area.

Student Life


Students live in two furnished, homey, adjacent townhomes located on Capitol Hill, just steps from the Supreme Court, U.S. Capitol, and Library of Congress. The Residence is only blocks away from Senate Office Buildings, Union Station, Eastern Market, and the Metro. We call our dorms the Residence.

Fully furnished Residence bedrooms are single-sex and range in size, holding 2-4 students each. The Residence also has kitchens, washer/dryers, high-speed internet access, single-use bathrooms on every floor, and common spaces for socializing. Three to four faculty members live in the Residence with students.


Students eat well at SEGL! Students enjoy three healthy, delicious meals every day (brunch and dinner on Sunday) made by Chef Susana; snacks are also available throughout the day. Some of our food comes from local/organic sources, as well as a local CSA, and we are also sure to sample food from the areas of the world we study. SEGL also makes significant efforts to fully accommodate medical, religious, and/or ethical dietary restrictions. And from time to time (especially on Sunday mornings), you may even have the opportunity to add your own culinary expertise to our menu!


Weekends officially begin on Friday evenings. Each week, a new group of SEGL students work with faculty to plan activities. Students create and organize many events that take advantage of the many offerings in Washington, DC, many within a short walking distance from the Residence. There is ample room for creativity! Want to learn to salsa dance or invite the director of a new documentary to speak? Want to emcee a talent show or organize a soup kitchen? Weekends are your chance! SEGL faculty also often lead “Saturday Academy” outings to local sites in and around Washington, DC. During the weekends, students also have time for laundry, studying, field trips and service projects, naps, exercise, and unscheduled fun with friends. There is also time for students to attend religious services (both on weekends and weekdays).

On Friday evenings, the School holds Flex Period, a time for community building during which faculty and/or students lead workshops on topics like identity, team-building, creative writing, holiday celebrations, and even a murder mystery dinner. Most weekends, Sundays are relaxed. Dinner on Sunday is followed by Dorm Meeting with residential faculty. This is a time for students to bring ideas, concerns, and reflections that will make the residential experience more enjoyable and meaningful for everyone.

Dress Guidelines

There is no formal dress code at SEGL, although students are asked to follow our dress guidelines, which are non-gender specific and were created with input from many generations of SEGL students. At times - sometimes two or three occasions per week - SEGL asks that students dress professionally for a site visit or guest speaker. In these instances, students should plan to dress to align with the expectations the offices, agencies, and experts with whom we are interacting will hold which often is more formal than the typical academic day.

Physical Fitness

SEGL values the role of physical fitness in a student’s experience! Students have time for exercise most afternoons, perhaps in the form of a game of soccer on the National Mall or a group run throughout DC. Students may also obtain parental permission to exercise on their own to keep up with special training plans. If enough students within a semester are interested, the School can take advantage of a group rate at a local gym. The School requires students to exercise three times per week.


Students should bring a laptop computer if they have access to one; SEGL has a limited number of loaner computers available. Both the Academic and Residence buildings have wireless Internet access and printers for student use. Students use their own personal email address and are not assigned a separate SEGL account to manage. SEGL students take a four-week phone break at the beginning of each semester, meaning they do not have access to their personal cell phones during this time. This is encouraged by students from previous semesters and helps to create a strong, present community.

Getting Around DC

During the semester, students use the Metro to commute with faculty to and from Union Station and Dupont Circle. Students receive Metro fare cards during orientation. Washington, DC is also a very walkable city! Small groups of students can get permission to walk together to neighborhood cafes and parks, and students and faculty regularly walk to local areas (including the lawn of the US Capitol) for class activities.

Health and Safety

The health and safety of every SEGL student is our primary goal. Faculty members live in the residential buildings with students for 24/7 supervision and many additional faculty live within easy walking distance to campus. The Residence’s front doors are accessible only by key code and lock automatically.