Writer: Rafatul I.
Visual: Sirah D.
Editor: Kay S.
I often get asked how I study for Global Politics. It is a diverse, stimulating course with no true “right answer” per se. Rather, one does better by qualifying and quantifying their viewpoints through the use of case studies, political theory, and figures. The subject itself is a Group 3 social studies course, but the methods I use are easily transferable to other subjects. Success in the course requires a high degree of interest in current events and a motivation to learn about not just the logistics of conflict and power, but a drive to study the political philosophy that characterizes Global Politics. Listed below are my essential tips that have helped me do well on the course:
Strategy #1: Use Google Classroom Resources
The assessments in Global Politics include New York Times Briefings Quizzes, Knowledge Based Quizzes on course content, Paper 1 (Case Study Response), Paper 2 (Long Essay Response), the Engagement Activity (EA), and the HL Extension Presentations. The teachers regularly update the Google Classroom with exemplars, articles, case study matrices, presentations, mnemonics, guides, textbooks, source material, literature reviews, and other materials from class. These resources represent the bulk of my “studying” for the course as they familiarize me with new course concepts and methods to demonstrate my knowledge. For the EA, you’ll also be required to engage with a political issue of your choice such as by interviewing senior government or business officials, organizing political rallies, or surveying local residents who live in an area affected by your political issue.
Strategy #2: Read the News
I cannot emphasize how crucial an understanding of current events, and their relevant conflicts and power dynamics are for success in the course. They are quite literally the essential examples and cases you will need to use for every assessment and discussion in class. Other than reading the daily New York Times Morning Briefing, I’d recommend that students who are seriously pursuing this course read newsletters from The New York Times and The Economist. My favourites are Paul Krugman’s and David Leonhart’s newsletters, as well as the Debatable and Sunday Best newsletters that are sent out weekly. Reading outside the bare minimums of the course helps acquaint you with the various stakeholder perspectives for political issues. Although I personally don’t listen to podcasts that often, I’d recommend The Economist’s The Intelligence and the New York Times’ The Daily if you prefer listening to or watching the news.
Strategy #3: Refer to the Textbook
This is an often-missed step by most Global Politics students. The Global Politics Essentials textbook by Murphy and Gleek from Pearson is quite versatile in this regard as it summarizes key course concepts and assessment structures. It also provides summaries of case studies and definitions of the subject’s jargon. As the assessments are generally structured as essays, the textbook does a great job of helping students describe concepts and case studies concisely and their use for greater impact.
Strategy #4: Discuss Global Politics with your Friends & Get Involved with It
This step is beneficial as it allows you to collaborate with your peers and share your ideas for feedback. It also allows you to articulate your thoughts to someone else (as you do in an essay) and helps build deeper associations in your brain. Using “active recall” here can help you cut down on your study time and build greater understanding by actively stimulating your memory during the learning process such as by quizzing yourself or your friends. Spaced repetition will also help you in the long-run as course knowledge becomes intrinsic. A last recommendation from me would be to create a Google Doc or some sort of archive where you can share and edit notes with your peers in order to make your learning process more efficient. Both Global Politics teachers from last year, Mr. Berg and Mr. Sheard, also highlight the importance of being involved in Global Politics as this culminates in the Engagement Activity (EA). Engaging with Global Politics outside of class can come in the form of extracurricular activities such as Model United Nations (MUN), the World Club, and Forensics & Debate.
Overall, if you take a genuine interest in the subject and follow some of the tips I’ve outlined here, you should be able to minimize the amount of time you spend memorising or passively recalling content. Then, you can reallocate this time to doing what you enjoy—which hopefully includes learning about Global Politics outside the course—and to your other IB subjects.