Global Citizen Degree

While the Global Citizen Degree program is only offered in one school, it presents a blueprint for how other institutions can integrate social action into their schools. This model eschews the group-dynamic approach, encouraging individual students to pursue social change (and their own personal growth) on their own. 


The Global Citizen Degree program was created by James MacDonald, who is the Head of School for the Yokohama International School in Japan. He joined the school in 2010 and the program began during the 2011-12 school year. James is also the Chair of the IB Asia Pacific Regional Council and Chair of the East Asia Association of IB School Heads; in addition, he has published numerous articles on international education and is a regular presenter at educational conferences.

How It Works

The Global Citizen Diploma (GCD) is a new diploma available to students at the Yokohama International Schoolthat aims to cultivate the skills and experiences that will give rise to globally-engaged and socially-active graduates. The GCD uses the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program as its academic foundation, and then utilizes several other tools in order to "inspire students and to provide them with the academic and social skills that will enable them to fulfill their human potential as responsible global citizens."

The GCD program is actually comprised of three levels of certifications, each with their own requirements:

1) Global Citizen Certificate

2) Global Citizen Diploma  

3) Global Citizen Diploma with Distinction

Once a student has decided to pursue one of these special degrees, they will be responsible for designing and carrying out several assignments and projects, which are incorporated into a digital portfolio, which can then be graded and assessed by teachers, administrators and parents. Students also receive mentoring (from teachers and other advisory staff) on their progress and given tips on how best to complete the required activities. 

The program consists of three major levels:

A. Core Elements

    1. Community Engagement: volunteering in local outreach program in Yokohama community or in their       "home country." Examples include volunteering in an orphanage or environmental clean-up project. Students write about the experience in their digital portfolio.

    2. Communication: student takes two years of foreign language and is evaluated by teachers to meet required level of comprehension.

    3. Global Perspective: students design and carry out a service project that provides them with contact with less fortunate people. This can be completed in Japan or abroad, on trips to home country or on school-organized field trips. Written report, as well as photos and letters of reference, are entered into digital portfolio.

B. Extended Elements

    1. Academics: successfully complete the graduation requirements of the Yokohama International School.

    2. Personal Goal: strive to accomplish a true challenge, such as school activity (school play or election as school officer) or personal (climb a mountain or finish a road race).  

    3. Management: successfully manage a project or activity such as a student event, a fundraiser, an avent for a sports team or church or a business activity.

    4. Apprenticeship: carry out an internship or job experience (at an organization approved by the school) for a minumum of 100 hours. 

    5. Fit for Lifedemonstrate a commitment to healthy living through diet and lifestyle choices. Healthy living includes attention to one’s mental and physical wellbeing, such as playing for a school sports, team, keep a sleep journal, or keep a blog based on their mental or nutritional health.

    6. Arts for Lifemake a significant contribution to the school’s arts program or demonstrate significant creative skills outside of school, such as school band, drama production, visual arts.

    7. Adventure: show significant participation in an experiential or outdoor program that will contribute to their personal and social development through teamwork, exposure to a new environment and a sense of personal achievement, such as hiking, sailing, mountain-biking or environmental project.

    8. Digital Citizenship: create a digital portfolio, create a tutorial video to promote digital communication, and demonstrate proper and responsible use of digital technology over the course of their high school career.

C. Advanced Elements

    1. Advanced Academics: maintain a very high GPA and be functionally bilingual.

    2. Advanced Personal Accomplishment: complete a substantial personal project or achieve an extraordinary personal accomplishment such as a national award, playing for a national sports team or starting a successful business.

    3. Leadership: take on a substantial leadership role, with sustained commitment, either within or outside of school, such as president of student organization or captain of a sports team.

The IB diploma, an excellent credential in its own right, is focused primarily on classroom learning. The  Global Citizenship Degree looks to complement the International Baccalaureate Diploma, which is focused on classroom learning, by integrating other types of learning that students can engage in at the high school level. This degree also helps students set themselves apart from the crowd when it comes time to apply to universities.