Choosing your Global Issue

How to choose a strong global issue for the Individual Oral, and 25 global issue starter ideas to help your brainstorming.

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Lang Lit

What does the IB actually require?

The IB English syllabus states that you can pick any global issue for your Individual Oral, as long as the global issue satisfies all three of these criteria:

  • It's pervasive and experienced all over the world in (pretty much) every country.
  • It has a big impact on people.
  • It affects people in common, everyday scenarios and environments.

The IB provides five categories, like "Culture, identity & community" and "Politics, power & justice".

According to the current IB English syllabus (First assessment 2021), Global Issues do not have to belong to any of the 5 categories. The category is irrelevant; the categories are merely provided by the IB as a starting point for you to start brainstorming.

As an example, the global issue in the exemplar IO doesn't belong to any of the five default categories. Instead, it belongs to its own category: Economics, ethics and society. And that's fine according to the syllabus.

With that said, here are 25 starting points for a global issue: use this list as inspiration, you'll definitely want to add your own twist and make them more specific to your own texts--they're quite general and vague out-of-the-box.

The List

Culture, identity & community

  • The threat of cultural homogenization in the face of globalized popular culture.
  • How forced migration leads to the loss of cultural identity and heritage.
  • The harmful effects of social media usage on body image and self-esteem.
  • How consumer culture promotes frivolous lifestyles.
  • How sporting culture shapes national identity.

Beliefs, values & education

  • Unequal access to education perpetuating poverty and wealth inequality.
  • The impact of propaganda and misinformation on public beliefs and social harmony.
  • The harmful effects of extremist ideologies on political division and democracy.
  • Social tension caused by conflicts in religious belief.
  • How formal education can lead to rigid ways of thinking, limiting innovation and creativity.

Politics, power & justice

  • The violation of fundamental human rights leading to the oppression of individuals and communities.
  • The impact of globalization on the sovereignty of nations and their political systems.
  • The perpetuation of social inequality and injustice through political corruption.
  • The challenge of balancing national security and civil liberties in the face of terrorism and security threats.
  • The effect of systemic racism on unjust and unfair treatment under the law.

Art, creativity & imagination

  • Balancing the protection of creative works with the public's right to access them in the digital age.
  • The negative impact of digital sharing on the protection of intellectual property rights.
  • The impact of censorship on artistic freedom and creative expression.
  • The challenge of balancing artistic freedom with social responsibility and cultural / religious sensitivity.
  • The restrictions placed by copyright on the free expression of musicians and artists.

Science, technology & the environment

  • The impact of climate change on global food security.
  • The challenge of balancing technological innovation with ethical considerations and social responsibility.
  • The effect of automation and artificial intelligence on employment and the workforce.
  • The challenge of balancing economic growth with environmental conservation and preservation.
  • Technology companies violating the privacy of individuals.
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