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The political scientist dashes between stations, interviewing speakers vying for a majority in the Stolting, the Norwegian legislature. His job: quickly gauge party opinions on whether a state-owned oil company is a viable participant in the country's sustainable development. Using Sachs' pillars of sustainability to go beyond the environment, the interviewer explores exactly how the company's funds support the political and social dimensions of the Norwegian welfare state.

The political scientist, however, is not a well-known thought leader or PhD. Not yet, anyway. Rather, they are an 11th-grade student at the United Nations International School (UNIS). His Norwegian passport comes from 1 of the more than 100 countries represented at UNIS, where Norwegian is just one of the roughly 100 languages spoken. This 11th grader's work was for his IB Global Politics class—one of more 60 offerings UNIS students may elect to take.

At UNIS, IB students engage in the practice of the discipline and its academic tradition as a matter of course. Classwork is merely training to become a practitioner—a method linking curricula with a developing sense of self and a growing understanding of one's place in the world. This act of "becoming" embodies the values of UNIS, and the values of an IB education. Researchers have termed this act "deeper learning," which emerges at the intersection of identity, mastery, and creativity.

IB students identify as ecologists and biologists. A recent project had a student exploring composting processes at the Bronx Botanical Garden. While doing so, she taught young people about its benefits for local health. The student combined her work at the Botanical Garden with her classroom understanding of decomposition to write a 4,000-word research paper – another core aspect of the IB curriculum. Another IB Biology student was so invested in a molecular biology unit that she pursued an internship in a local lab that studied cancer. Her classroom training helped her compare the role of somatic mutations in causing ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer. She later published her findings in an academic journal.

IB students master deep content knowledge, conceptual understanding, and analysis skills to make meaning of their education. One economics student put to use the class concepts of efficiency and equity, along with their higher-level math skills of statistical analysis, to critique the poverty-reduction abilities of the Bolsa Familia program in Brazil. They explored government finance datasets to reveal that the inconsistent employment indigenous groups face due to their marginalization in society's informal labor sector results in sporadic poverty reduction from the program. Meshing the concepts of structural equity and government efficiency explored in class, their own curiosity about Bolsa Familia, and the ability to evaluate that is reinforced daily in IB classroom interactions enabled this student to demonstrate mastery of the content knowledge.

IB students creatively synthesize their own answers and responses to questions they face. It's one thing to understand the rules, but quite another to be able to mold them; one IB Film student did just that. They generated an idea to use close camera proxemics to make a story more intimate, and a vision to execute that idea. But they coached a team of actors, camera and sound assistants, cinematographers to direct that vision into reality, thereby demonstrating creative problem solving.

UNIS IB students may replicate disciplinary skills, but the very act of replication leads to outcomes we all want — students finding meaningful careers. One former Global Politics student received a prompt for their university senior capstone class to resolve water shortages at the local level in Jordan. They relied on their base of practice from high school GP–knowledge of local and national governance, comprehension of the concept of sovereignty, and tools of political engagement activity from a project–to create a novel solution to the problem. After viewing the work, a director for USAID offered the UNIS alum a job on the spot. Replicating and mastering elements of disciplinary practice, meshing them into one's identity, and creatively synthesizing novel solutions to challenges represents the value of an IB education.

While many students at UNIS begin their IB experiences thinking it's high school as usual – they soon find out otherwise. Before they know it, they've found they're engaged in something that will become a lifelong passion.

United Nations International School
New York, NY
212-684-7400