Environmental Studies

The Environmental Studies elective, offered to upperclassmen, provides students with a historical and scientific perspective on human interaction with the natural world. The course consists of units on ecology, water use, pollution, food production and consumption, fuel sources, consumerism, environmental justice, climate change, and recreation and representation. Environmental Studies is designed to promote systems thinking, a method of examining the world by understanding interdisciplinary connections. History teacher Mr. Turnbull, who teaches the class alongside science teacher Ms. Courtemanche, believes that social science based thinking and the scientific method inform one another to explain humanity’s role in the evolution of the climate: “While science deals in “facts,” the way we think and employ our knowledge changes over time. Studying one [subject] with the other gives us a better understanding of the ways our choices have brought us to where we are today.” Assessments include presentations about global water conflict, essays about ecological thinking and students’ own environmental ethics, as well as labs that involve place based observation. Students who take the course say they most enjoy discovering connections between Environmental Studies’ material and their lives.