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Global Themes

ICGL water poster

Artwork by Katelyn Souza '24

The Year of water, 2.0: 2023-2024

As the Isdell Center for Global Leadership (ICGL) turns 10, the Pace Academy community is once again tackling Water, the annual theme in 2014-2015, the ICGL’s inaugural year. “This time, our exploration of Water is more complex and more informed,” says ICGL Director Trish Anderson. “We’re able to dive deeper because we’ve spent the past decade analyzing related themes like Conservation, Energy and Climate. The students who studied

Water in Pre-First are now, as freshmen in our Upper School, equipped with the skills and experiences necessary to enhance their understanding in a different context. It’s exciting to see things come full circle.”

ICGL Visiting Scholar Dr. Kersey Sturdivant set the tone during his two-day visit to campus in September. A marine ecologist who studies the effects of human disturbance on the seafloor and develops marine technology to enhance human understanding of the ocean, Sturdivant shared his work with students across all divisions during special assemblies; spent time in science classrooms; and met with the Upper School ICGL Council, Isdell Global Leaders, the BAAAD (Black, African-American, African Diaspora) Affinity Group, faculty members and Knights Circle donors.

“As we think about the global ocean ecosystem, its importance to life on this planet, and our role in the harm that we’ve caused, it’s imperative that we recognize this precious body of water for what it is: the reason for our continued existence on this planet,” Sturdivant told students. “If we don’t start acting like that, well, that’s it.”

The ICGL continues to thrive and develop with this year’s addition of a Middle School Minimester program, offered to every Middle School student as part of their academic program. Going forward, week-long minimesters will take place annually in February and will focus on developing students’ global mindedness, cultural awareness, engaged citizenship and leadership skills by taking students out of their familiar classroom environments and allowing them to learn about global issues in real-world settings in and around Atlanta. The program's emphasis on immersive and experiential learning focused around socially relevant topics will support the growth and development of all of students' global competency. Minimester courses—for example, Effective Leadership in a Complex World and Art & Activism: Addressing Global Issues—will take place during the school day.

To accommodate the new week-long program, the ICGL has shifted the timing of spring study tours to coincide with minimesters—which means that every Middle School student will either participate in an ICGL study tour or enroll in a minimester. Students may take advantage of summer study tour opportunities as well.

“This year, Pace students and faculty in the Lower, Middle and Upper Schools will travel to 15 countries on 20 study tours,” Anderson reports. “From Baja to Basque Country and Thailand to Morocco, students’ travels will highlight focus areas including sustainability, marine biology, education, technology, history and leadership development.”

With the world facing complex challenges that demand innovative and compassionate leadership, the ICGL will continue to nurture a diverse community of students who are not only academically equipped but also culturally aware, ethically grounded and committed to positive change.

Dr. Kersey Sturdivant

Meet ICGL Visiting Scholar Dr. Kersey Sturdivant

Marine ecologist Dr. Kersey Sturdivant is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and the College of William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science. An adjunct professor at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, Sturdivant helped launch INSPIRE Environmental, an environmental consulting company, where he serves as a principal scientist. In addition, Sturdivant is the author of Getting into Graduate School in the Sciences, a senior correspondent at and a co-creator of Oceanography for Everyone. He recently received a two-year appointment to the National Academy of Sciences.

Introducing Our 2023-2024 Isdell Global Leaders

Uma Graz ’24, Emma Lowry ’24, Asher Lubin ’24 and Mary Oyefuga ’25 are making a splash as the members of the 2023-2024 Isdell Global Leaders (IGLs) cohort. This year’s IGLs, selected following an intensive application process, have committed to a year-long study of Water that includes coursework, research and two travel opportunities. 

This fall, the IGLs, alongside Isdell Center for Global Leadership (ICGL) Director Trish Anderson and Associate Director Ted Ward, traveled to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Falmouth, Mass., to meet with educators, scientists and explorers while learning about ocean ecology, coastal environments, climate change and conservation (look for more in our winter issue). In the spring, the group will turn its focus to fresh water in a yet-to-be-determined destination. 

“Our goal in the coming semester is to look at issues related to fresh water in terms of access and sustainability,” Anderson says. “The group is very interested in looking at communities—both urban and rural—that are implementing various strategies and policies to address water shortages and try to mitigate water scarcity.”

Uma Graz ' 24

Emma Lowry '24

Asher Lubin '24

Mary Oyefuga '25