New SFS initiatives engage high school students from underrepresented backgrounds

Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS) has launched two new initiatives that engage high school students locally and nationally in hopes of diversifying the pipeline of international affairs professionals and lowering barriers to a Georgetown education.

SFS leaders say the programs—in which students from historically excluded backgrounds take courses taught by SFS professors at no cost—reflect the school’s founding mission of educating future leaders who will make the world more peaceful, prosperous, and equitable.

“These programs advance SFS’s commitment to building a new generation of international leaders who better represent the United States and the world,” said Dr. Scott Taylor, SFS’s vice dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion. “Our goal is to open doors to an international affairs education for a wider range of prospective students and bring their much-needed voices into the SFS community.”

Engaging D.C. students with a summer experience

This summer, 20 rising juniors and seniors from Washington, D.C., high schools received full scholarships to attend a one-week online summer program. Nominated by their schools, recipients of the SFS Future Global Leaders Fellowship had demonstrated intellectual curiosity and a strong interest in international affairs.

Students selected one of two options—International Relations Academy or Washington & the World Academy—both administered by Georgetown’s School of Continuing Studies and taught by SFS professor Anthony Clark Arend. During the week, they explored pressing global issues alongside classmates from around the world, attended small group discussions, and completed an international crisis simulation.

“We aspire for these students to apply to and attend college more confident in their knowledge of world affairs and their ability to thrive in a university setting,” said Carla Koppell, senior advisor for diversity, equity, and inclusion at SFS.

She adds that the fellowship also was designed to strengthen SFS’s relationship with the local community, inspiring more D.C.-area students to pursue the international affairs field and to consider attending Georgetown.

Reaching out nationally to expand opportunity

In addition, SFS this semester is partnering with the National Education Equity Lab to offer 150 to 200 students at the nation’s Title I high schools the opportunity to take Professor Mark Giordano’s Map of the Modern World class at no cost.

Recognizing that students at underfunded high schools often have little contact with private, top-tier institutions like Georgetown, the National Education Equity Lab is partnering with a number of universities to expand academic access for more diverse communities of potential applicants.

Related: Program shows underserved teens, elite colleges what’s possible with greater access >

Students taking Professor Giordano’s class through the program will earn three college credits across the semester. In completing the course from their home school—lectures will be available online for viewing in class or at home—students will have support from Georgetown teaching assistants and attend weekly discussion sections. Teachers at their high schools will be trained to facilitate the course.

Participating students also will be invited to attend Georgetown and SFS information sessions, panel discussions, and recruitment events. The Lab notes that while “passion and talent are evenly distributed in our country, opportunity is not,” adding that programs like Georgetown’s partnership with the Lab can help students “build the skills—and confidence—needed to apply to and thrive in college.”

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