The open nature of Global Perspectives – with a focus on critical thinking and research skills rather than a set series of topics – was a big attraction for US student Oksana Melendez. It allowed her to follow her passions, from hot political issues to more obscure areas of research.
‘I really liked the idea of independent research. In most of my classes we don't get to do something very independent and if we do, it's got to be very specifically tailored to whatever that class is.
‘I think Global Perspectives is a great opportunity for students that have interests that don't align with their school’s standard courses. You can do research on whatever you want.
‘While I was brainstorming for my final project I went through a bunch of topics, starting with rock climbing and through to something in astronomy, because I want to major in astronomy.
‘I learnt lots of tiny little facts, like rock climbers are something like 20 per cent more likely to get Dupuytren's disease (where there are problems with the finger joints), so it made me more aware of lots of different things.
‘I did my presentation in Cambridge International AS Level Global Perspectives on the opioid crisis. I wanted to find something that was extremely global, and I thought that something medical that impacts health would be a good way to find that.
‘I had heard a lot about the opioid crisis after the 2016 election here. It was a hot topic and I knew it was a big issue but I didn’t know why exactly. I thought it was super interesting and something I’ve never really learned about before.
‘I'm not a medical person. I'm into politics but not to the point where I would want to be a politician, but Global Perspectives gave me the chance to do more research on the issue and find out more about it.’
Skills for study and for life
The course has also helped her develop techniques that she can use across the curriculum, and when she moves on to university and work.
‘We did a lot of independent research, particularly in the first semester, and it helped me to learn how to navigate different databases, and figure out like what sources I should use - which ones are reliable, which ones will be more beneficial for the point I'm trying to make in my paper.
‘It's also helped in my regular classes like English, where we have to write papers. Finding sources for my papers has been much easier since doing Global Perspectives.’
Oksana Melendez studied Cambridge International AS & A Level Global Perspectives at John Overton High School, in Nashville, Tennessee in the United States. The school has around 2000 students, and offers some Cambridge IGCSE courses as well as the Cambridge AICE Diploma, which is a group award made up of Cambridge International AS & A Levels.