World studies was first proposed by the United World College of Mahindra in 2001 and was eventually set up as an extended essay pilot option in 2005. The development of the world studies extended essay pilot has been underpinned by extensive academic research and development. IB staff have worked closely with both teachers in the pilot schools and Harvard Graduate School of Education, Project Zero Interdisciplinary Studies Project, to develop this exciting extended essay option.
A world studies extended essay must focus on a topic of global significance. This encourages the student to reflect on the world today in relation to issues such as the global food crisis, climate change, terrorism, energy security, migration, global health, technology and cultural exchange.
The student should then explore how their chosen issue may be illustrated in a local context or contexts using specific examples of a small scale, local phenomenon; in this way the student is linking the local to the global.
As the approach is interdisciplinary explaining the topic through the lens of more than one discipline, students should develop a clear rationale for taking an interdisciplinary approach, selecting the IB disciplines through which they plan to explore the topic. The process of researching and writing the world studies extended essay develops international-mindedness and specifically the concept of global consciousness. This concept encompasses three distinct strands:
- global sensitivity - a sensitivity to local phenomena and experiences as expressions of developments on the planet
- global understanding - the capacity to think in flexible and informed ways about issues of global significance
- global self - a developing perception of self as a global actor and member of humanity, capable of making a positive contribution to the world.