Starting Monday, Jan. 25, 2016, and running through early February, Anacapa School will hold its annual Synthesis Unit, an intensive, multi-day exploration of a single subject.

This year Anacapa students will ambitiously tackle the very timely issue of the movement of people around the globe in a Synthesis Unit titled, “Human Migration: The Search for a Better Life.”

Offered every year in January, Anacapa’s Synthesis Units are intensive learning  opportunities for the school’s 7th-12th grade students.

A program unique to Anacapa, Synthesis Units are one of the school’s most well-known and respected critical thinking tools and embody the school’s rigorous academics and focus on civic involvement.  

Synthesis Units offer Anacapa students the opportunity to hear from and ask questions of a number of speakers — all experts in their respective area of study or field, and each with a different perspective on the subject being explored.

“Human Migration: The Search for a Better Life” will feature over 14 speakers, including the following:

» Chris Funk, Ph.D., research director, Climate Hazards Group, UCSB

» David Lopez-Carr, Ph. D., professor, Department of Geography, UCSB

» Harold Marcuse, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of History, UCSB

» Christina Manriquez, policy and program analyst, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, United States Department of State

» Edward Joseph, J.D., executive director, Institute of Current World Affairs

» Marina Andina, overseas section chief, Office of Refugee Admissions, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, United States Department of State

» John Klink, president emeritus, International Catholic Migration Commission

» Michael Jimeno, border patrol agent, United States Border Patrol

» David Marshall, Ph.D., professor, Department of English, UCSB; executive vice chancellor, UCSB

» Munther al-Sabbagh, Ph.D. candidate, Department of History, UCSB

» Paul Barba, lecturer and Ph.D. candidate, Department of History, UCSB

» Paolo Pandolfi, Deputy Consul of Italy

» Hans Jörg Neumann, consul general, Federal Republic of Germany

At the end of the Synthesis Unit, Anacapa students research and write papers that synthesize the information they have absorbed during the course of the Unit.

Students also work collaboratively in small groups focused on a specific aspect of the unit, and put together sophisticated oral presentations which they deliver to the student body.  

Students’ individual papers are published collectively in an official publication. This is the first year that Anacapa will be making this publication available as an e-book.

Past Anacapa Synthesis Units include “Beyond Borders: Cultures and Conflict in the Middle East,” “Discovering World Religions: Exploring Life’s Big Questions,” “Space: Where Are We Going?” and “Global Climate Change.”

“The Synthesis Units and our Breakfast Club Speakers Program are central to why Anacapa students head out to some of the nation’s — and world’s — top universities unafraid to ask questions and engage in dialog with their professors and the people they meet. They learn to both listen and talk… and become good communicators,” said Gordon Sichi, Anacapa headmaster and founder.

To plan for this year’s Synthesis Unit, Sichi traveled to Washington, D.C,  in late 2015 to attend a conference called “The Global Migration and Refugee Crisis: Challenges, Lessons and Opportunities,” sponsored by the Institute for Contemporary World Affairs and The International Organization for Migration at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“Attending the Washington conference was eye-opening, informative and helped me meet a lot of people who have been helpful in putting the Synthesis Unit together,” he said. “Every year I am amazed by the brain power the school attracts to the Synthesis Unit and by the generosity of busy people willing to spend time at our small school. They are an important part of how this school makes such a big impact on students’ lives.”

— Hilary Doubleday represents Anacapa School.