When one considers academics at Gilman School, the first thing that might come to mind is a traditional curriculum including Latin and geometry. And, while those subjects are well represented in Gilman’s 200+ Upper School course offerings, students also select from topics designed to expand their knowledge and perspective of contemporary issues.
A new course this year is Environmental Sustainability, a year-long science offering that studies the Anthropocene Era (a proposed epoch dating from the commencement of significant human impact on the Earth’s geology and ecosystems) by delving deeply into issues relating to population, food, water, and energy.
Activities have included:
- A presentation by Dr. Mike Cranfield, co-director of Gorilla Doctors, a team that works to preserve the endangered Grauer’s gorilla species in Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- A visit by Anne Palmer, who is the Food Communities and Public Health program director at Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future.
- Field trips to the Patapsco Wastewater Treatment Plant and Ashburton Water Filtration Plant.
Students have also been challenged to propose solutions to problems facing the planet and to take action in various ways. Senior Charlie Ratcliffe, advocating for an upgrade to Patapsco Wastewater Plant’s impact, submitted an essay to The Baltimore Sun that was recently published as an Op-Ed.
Students are preparing for an upcoming food challenge in which they will either choose to become a vegetarian or vegan for a week, make a meal from scratch, or monitor and compost food waste at home. Additional activities that are coming up include:
- A visit by University of Delaware Professor McKay Jenkins, author of Food Fight, a book about the use of GMOs.
- Field trips to a grain and vegetable farm as well as an animal farm.
In its first year the course proved so popular that two sections had to be offered. The 34 students taking the class will never look at their world in quite the same way. “I get it now: from the food I choose to the energy I consume, my daily actions can make a big difference to the environment. It is eye opening and empowering to know that I can contribute to real change. This class taught me that,” said senior Sawyer Lynch.