Food is fundamental to human existence. Historical events, cultural traditions, social structures, geographic features, and economic practices all factor into our food choices and options. Many people are fortunate enough to not have to think much about where our food comes from, but many others experience food scarcity or a lack of access to healthy food. Whether we are growing food and eating it right from the garden or buying it at the supermarket, we all are impacted by the food we consume. Food directly influences our health, energy, family traditions, and our budgets.
This single-semester course explores the many interconnected systems that work together to bring food from the farm to our tables. Learning about sustainable food systems helps us understand how our food choices impact our communities and the wider world, and allows us to make more effective and intentional decisions about what we eat. Prerequisite: Biology and Chemistry (recommended but not required)
A teacher manual is available for this course.
World Religions: Finding Common Ground is a project-based course that asks students to consider one of the greatest puzzles of world history: How can members of diverse religions come together as one community in which the specific practices of each are honored? Students spend the semester researching a wide variety of world religions and, using their findings, design an interfaith center that takes on this question, aided by frequent teacher feedback and discussion. Students are invited to incorporate their own interests into this endeavor—past projects have focused on food, clothing, history, and social justice—and to shape it in the manner that is most meaningful for them.
Social Justice: Navigating Cultural Competence in the 21st Century, is an 18-week discussion course for enrolled students only. Students will engage with multimedia ranging from videos, social media, articles, graphics, and many other tools to explore and discuss a range of social justice issues. Students will also explore and discuss the historical and modern perspective while connecting the intersections of race, class, gender, culture, religion, and many other challenging issues erupting in the U.S. and the world today. Students will also be exposed to unique illustrations and connections to social justice through art, the discussion of “place,” and other subtopics. This 0.5 credit course is synchronous and students are required to log on at a specified time once each week.
Why take this course?
- Strengthen your critical thinking, questioning skills, and self-reflection while engaging with your peers and using other tools like social media.
- Experience in a safe space to engage and “practice” discussion about tough issues.
- Expand and gain global perspective on tough issues regarding economics, politics, and social rights.
Media Literacy is about learning how to critically engage and make sense of the media all around us. In addition to introducing students to the history and use of media, this course will help develop analytical tools that students can use to examine media content, intent, context, and subtext.
Media literacy, or media education, is also a global movement to make better, more critical, sense of the media. We will be focusing on what and how we learn from the media: How and why do media texts target young people? How do media fit into our lives? How do media shape our perceptions in regard to race/ethnicity, gender, class, sexuality, geography, and education? As students explore how the media operates in society, they will gain the tools of media literacy, allowing them to make more informed choices as an active audience.
Finally, media literacy is about social activism—it is inherently an activist method of study. When we study our media critically, we are compelled to make change. That change may be within ourselves, as our personal viewing, reading, and listening habits may change once we begin paying closer attention to media. Or it may be within our family and community, fueled by our discussions with family and friends. Or the change may be within the context of the wider world as we support media that carries a proactive message and boycott media that spreads negative, overly violent, or otherwise harmful messages. By learning to be critical scholars, students can develop a sense of objectivity about media and become more active audiences and independent thinkers. Note: Internet access is required for this course.
This experiential psychology course is designed to help students become more aware of themselves as unique individuals. Using their own experiences as a guide, students are encouraged to be scientists in the process of exploring themselves and their place in the universe as they examine such topics as love, beauty, joy, spontaneity, and self-actualization. The following books are included with this course.
Modern Middle East is an introduction to the history, religious life, and politics of the Middle East. Focusing on the region’s confrontation with the West since napoleon’s invasion of Egypt in 1798, students will learn how European colonialism introduced modern and secular ideas into the Middle East, creating tensions with traditional patterns of belief and culture. Students will explore how the intrusive actions of Western colonizers caused the region’s political affairs to become weak and unstable. The course also looks at the conflicts between Israel and its regional neighbors, the role of Islamic revivalist movements, and the impact of oil.
Religions of the World takes a comparative approach and explores the rich diversity of religious life, beginning with defining religion according to its role and purpose in human life. Within a cultural and historical context, students will explore a variety of human religious responses, including symbol, sacred text, myth, belief, and rituals. Students will study the broad range of religious expressions from across the globe, from indigenous traditions to the world’s major religions. Comparative essays and reflective writing guide students to synthesize course material and their own unique perspectives.
The U.S. Government course is based upon the premise that analyzing current information is essential to an effective citizenry. It asks students to research, compare, contrast, and think critically about government-related issues. Students learn the ideals behind the American system of government and the mechanics of its operation in preparation for taking their places as independent thinking citizens of the nation. The following books are included with this course.
In this full year project-based world geography course, for enrolled students only, students will learn and utilize geography skills and perspectives to explore vital real-world challenges related to our use and reliance upon natural, cultural, and economic resources. Students will gain a broad understanding of the world in which we live and the many forces that are shaping how we and our world will change in the near future.
Through integrated projects, students will have the opportunity to create learning experiences of their own design, culminating in a student-driven final research project. Instead of a textbook, students will be using a wide variety of primary and secondary sources, current events and professional research, literature and film, and other print and online materials. The course includes extensive work with maps and mapmaking, as well as research, collecting and interpreting data, writing, and reflection. The course materials include the following.
The study of world geography involves understanding the natural forces that shape our planet and the interactions between people and their environment. It’s about how human activity can modify the surface of the Earth itself and inform the region’s culture and inhabitants over time. This course is also about acquiring information from disparate sources, like maps, statistics, news reports, and literary accounts, and integrating it into a comprehensive understanding. The projects and assignments in this course encourage students to exercise their imagination, creativity, analytical mind, and critical faculties.
This course is designed to be textbook-independent. This means that the course is driven by questions and inquiry that challenge students to become researchers and critical thinkers. Throughout the course, students are encouraged to use a wide variety of sources such as non-fiction books, websites, films, textbooks, journals, novels, artwork, news archives, etc. The course can be used in conjunction with ANY world geography textbook or other research materials.