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Awakening a global perspective.

Questions one might overhear when walking past a class in the Global Perspectives and Citizenship (GPAC) program

“Are mega sporting events actually good for the people of the host countries?”, “What creates a successful secession?”, “How do modern cities use urban planning to manage their resources for sustainable growth?”

Recognizing that citizenship involves membership in a common whole – whether community, nation, or world – the GPAC program asks students to think beyond their own experiences in order to develop an appreciation of multiple perspectives on a given issue.

GPAC is designed to provide space for select students who are passionate about global issues and are excited to explore and conduct their own independent research.

The GPAC curriculum helps these students develop the skills and mindset necessary to navigate the rapidly changing relationships between communities, cultures, and civilizations worldwide. The concentration program empowers students with global perspectives and intercultural competencies.

Exciting Opportunities for Enrichment

Based on individual student initiative and interest, participation in GPAC may also include such experiential elements as summer travel abroad, an internship with an organization dedicated to global issues, or attendance at one of many university-sponsored Global Studies summer programs.  

Program Admission

Admission to the GPAC program is selective. The program is appropriate for students with strong reading, writing, and language skills who have an interest in world affairs. Interested students may apply for the program at the end of their freshman year at Potomac. The process includes an essay, writing samples, and an interview with the selection committee.

Students and parents pack rice and bean meals for displaced Ukrainians.

When GPAC and Service Learning Intersect

Students in GPAC 11 were tasked with devising a service learning experience. When their unit on food insecurity began, they knew they had just found a way to take action and help support Ukrainians in need. 


An inquiry based curriculum

With a structured environment, students tend to get excited about a specific area of global studies. The curriculum offers a scaffolding approach to research and analytical writing – giving students the fundamentals for their independent research in Grade 12.

“What's special about this experience is that students get to have a space to follow their passions, and our faculty is there to support them with the resources, materials, and the skills needed to execute a high-level research paper. We don’t dictate – the students in this concentration are very much in charge of their work, especially in Grade 12.”Bridget Gagne, Upper School Faculty Member

GRADE 10 Each student begins the program by taking an Introduction to Global Studies. Using a combination of social theory and case studies, this year-long course introduces learners to global economics, politics, culture and citizenship; and then digs into specific larger issues such as food insecurity, pandemics, and climate change.
GRADE 11 A hallmark of the GPAC program is when students identify their own problem driven research project, working closely with Potomac faculty. They spend their junior year taking the problem they've identified, developing a research question from it, designing and executing that research.
GRADE 12 Students in the program produce a substantial research paper and give a presentation on their findings. Read descriptions of recent GPAC research projects.


Hamilton Brooks


When Hamilton Brooks ‘18 reads about history and the remarkable strides people have made, it brings him a degree of hope; with so much uncertainty in life, Hamilton wants to spread that hope to others. The Potomac alum puts his intentions into action and encourages others to do the same.

Students pose for a group photo in front of the Capitol building.

On April 19, GPAC10 and GPAC11 classes spent the morning on Capitol Hill where they were able to observe a Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing. The hearing topic was "PEPFAR at 20: Achieving and Sustaining Epidemic Control.” They heard testimonies from John N. Nkengasong (U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy), Sir Elton John (Founder of the Elton John AIDS Foundation), and Dr. Mark Dybul (Professor of Medicine and Chief Strategy Officer at Georgetown University's Medical Center for Global Health Practice and Impact). The testimony outlined the successes of PEPFAR (U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) and the continued need for the program as a tool for not only addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic but also as a tool for building infrastructure that has been utilized to address other disease outbreaks around the world such as COVID-19 and ebola. Students also heard questions from Senators Robert Menendez, James Risch, Tim Kaine, and Cory Booker, which helped them better understand how the committee gathers information. It was an inspiring day, and the GPAC program appreciates the support of Claire Figel, a Potomac alum, who works with the committee and helped organize the day!

GPAC Assembly Tackles Hefty Question

GPAC11 recently held their annual assembly, which was designed around one central question: “Why do institutions sacrifice the interests of the people?” The question was reflective of the assembly’s collaborative design. In preparation for their talk, GPAC worked to draw connections between their projects in order to identify common research themes. Their final product established four central themes: the impacts of the abuse of executive power, ethnic majoritarianism’s subversion of civil liberties, the challenges presented by resource scarcity, and the relationship between institutional legitimacy and the suppression of civil liberties. The presentation was a celebration of their progress in their research and a moment to engage with others regarding their work. GPAC will now begin their writing process! 

research examples

Lost in the Drug Trade: How the Sinaloa Cartel Capitalizes on Community Erosion

The Rise of Punitive Penal Policy Under the U.K. Government in the 1990s

Ethiopia: A Link in China’s Chain to Hegemony

Research Projects