The Center for Global Understanding and Independent Thinking reflects a serious commitment by the School, supported by the Board of Trustees, to build upon Hotchkiss’s long heritage of global connectedness. In 2008, the second floor of the Monahan Building, the School’s former athletic center, was transformed to further that commitment by giving needed physical space to house The Center for Global Understanding and Independent Thinking. The Center, directed by Dr. Manjula B. Salomon, Assistant Head of School and Director of Global Initiatives, has a twofold mandate:
- Establish a comfort with “otherness” in the student body, the faculty, and in the curriculum; and
- Provide an adult resource and training center on global issues and independent thinking.
The Center for Global Understanding and Independent Thinking builds on an already strong global awareness at Hotchkiss.
- Almost from the time of its founding in 1891, Hotchkiss has been enrolling students from across the world. As early as 1912, the School recruited students from China. Among the sons of Americans living in China who came to Hotchkiss were Henry Luce '16, founder of Time Magazine, and A. William Olsen '39, the sixth headmaster of Hotchkiss.
- George Van Santvoord ’08, the School's fourth headmaster, was instrumental in recruiting international students and sending students to the English-Speaking Union.
- Archibald MacLeish ’11 chaired the American delegation to the London conference that drafted the UNESCO constitution in 1945. He also participated in drafting the preamble to the United Nations charter at the San Francisco conference.
- At its 50th reunion in 1998, the Class of 1948 developed a fund to support international initiatives for teachers and students; and the Class of 1981 followed with a global studies fund.
- There is a proud tradition of Hotchkiss alumni who have made important contributions in every field— from Paul Nitze '24, the leading Cold War strategist of the 20th century, to classmates Clark Randt, Jr. '64, the current U.S. Ambassador to China, and N. Strobe Talbott '64, the former deputy Secretary of State and current president of the Brookings Institution.
President John F. Kennedy's cabinet members during discussion of the Cuban
Missile Crisis; second from right and at far right are Deputy Defense Secretary
Roswell Gilpatric '24, and Paul Nitze '24, Assistant Secretary of Defense.
- The Center for Global Understanding and Independent Thinking is the umbrella under which all global initiatives and international programs at Hotchkiss are implemented. Currently, the Center oversees:
The Office of International Programs, a series of educational exchanges to and from Hotchkiss with different partner schools, as well as school-sponsored trips, which increasingly have a service learning component;
The Gap Year Program, which offers service and learning experiences in other countries to students in the year after graduation from Hotchkiss; and
School Year Abroad, a program that focuses on language, culture and civilization.
2008-09 Gap Year students around the world: in Cambodia, New Zealand and India
The department currently works closely with two organizations:
Round Square, “a worldwide association of more than 60 member schools on five continents that share a commitment, beyond academic excellence, to personal development, taking responsibility and serving others.” Hotchkiss hosted the Round Square Americas Conference in April 2009.
- The Global Connections Foundation, a forum for heads of school whose purpose is to encourage school leaders worldwide to develop global consciousness and to promote international cooperation in their schools. This organization, administered by the Center for Global Understanding and guided by Malcolm H. McKenzie, complements the aspirations of the Center.
- It is projected that we will be working with the Summit of the Americas Youth Forum.
- Promoting the Gap Year Program, an experiential learning concept that is widely understood in Europe, but is in its early years in the United States; and
- Bringing the World to Hotchkiss: the Speakers Program, including the Ambassador Program, which has already brought the Ambassadors from Mali and France and the President of Mongolia to the Hotchkiss campus during the 2008-09 school year;
- Hotchkiss students worked with Global Village Media, an internationally recognized production company, on a short film entitled “Democracy Outside the Voting Booth.” They premiered the film at the Round Square Americas Conference. See the final production here.
- The Hotchkiss Institute is projected to open at the Center in 2011, operating out of the Digital Classroom. Several new courses are being planned for 2011. The Institute had its maiden voyage on Polar Oceans Day in March 2009, with scientists in Antarctica and the Arctic Circle reporting on their findings to teachers in Oxford, England, Chicago and Mexico. Participants included a local narwhal expert.
- The Center will build on the synergy between our Environmental Initiatives program, the Global Initiatives program, and the local community.
The Polar Oceans event in March 2009 included participants from around the world,
including a narwhal expert from the
local community. The narwhal image on his
computer screen, at left, could be seen by all.
The Center, which is located in the Monahan Building between the Forrest E. Mars Jr. Athletic Center and the soccer fields, includes:
- a digital classroom with oversize video screens for conferencing throughout the world;
- a library, which will contain books by and about Hotchkiss alumni, on topics of globalization and on independent thinking;
- a large gathering room for receptions;
- a formal dining room; and
- a guest apartment for visiting dignitaries.