|GRADES 7–8 OFF-CAMPUS COURSES|Ethnology, Conservation, and Sustainable Ecology in Costa Rica Visit blogU.S. History: A Recapitulation of Grades 5–8 Visit blog
Ethnology, Conservation, and Sustainable Ecology in Costa Rica
During this nine-day course, students will study the history and ethnology of Costa Rica, conduct field research on dolphins and poison dart frogs, explore the rain forest canopy, contribute firsthand to the daily operation of an organic, sustainable farm, and engage in community service and cultural immersion in the Terraba indigenous reserve. The expedition begins at Arenal volcano, where students will learn about volcanology and explore the rain forest’s ecology before ziplining over its canopy. Afterward, students will tour a local organic farm where they will help with planting, harvesting, working with the tilapia, making sugarcane juice, and milking the cows. Students will then take an in-country flight to the Osa Peninsula, where they will spend two days learning the basics of biological field research while studying poison dart frogs and dolphins along the Gulfo Dulce. They will record their observations of other animals and insects, as well as weather and GPS locations, and see how these factors may play a role in the overall health of our ecosystems. For the final portion of the trip, students will transition to the Terraba indigenous reserve, where they will engage in a community service project at the school, make chocolate by hand as they learn about the traditions and importance of cacao, visit nearby petroglyphs and the Mano Piedra historic site, and learn about the history of the local tribe. The trip will conclude with a rappelling adventure near a 900-foot waterfall at Diamante Verde, followed by a night spent sleeping behind the waterfall.
U.S. History: A Recapitulation of Grades 5–8
Students will travel the Eastern Seaboard, visiting the 9/11 Memorial; Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia; the Smithsonian museums, Arlington Cemetery, Ford Theater, and a nighttime tour of the memorials in the Washington, DC, area; Thomas Jefferson’s home in Charlottesville, VA; Colonial Williamsburg, and more sites than can be fully detailed here. Our focus will be on the evolution of government, culture, and technology over the last 350 years. The course will center on the collective responses of Americans to the challenges of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. The course will culminate with each student reporting on a sustainable thread or principle that has endured throughout the three-and-a-half centuries of history surveyed on the trip. Students will be expected to participate fully in all tour activities such as trivia contests, journal writing, and other demonstrations of understanding.
|GRADES 7–8 ON-CAMPUS COURSES|
Edible East End
The History and Politics of Sports
Edible East End
For this on-campus course, students will explore many East End farms and meet proprietors who provide a variety of local foods for the communities on both the North and South Forks. The main emphasis of this course is to learn through hands-on experience about the many varieties of food products that are produced right here in our backyard. In addition, Mother Nature offers a bounty of helpful and healing plant life, and the leaves, flowers, bark, and berries of plants have been used for centuries to cure everything from hunger to headaches. Students will view some of these plants on the wild plant walks that we will take. Our journey takes us to both forks as we explore alternative ways of providing local, organic food for our families’ tables. To conclude our Field Academy course, the students will prepare a meal that incorporates everything that they have learned in the course.
The History and Politics of Sports
This Field Academy course explores how sports can challenge or reinforce political power through their programs, fans, and teams. Sports have held an important place in the culture of many nations around the world, and due to this importance, sports and politics often intersect. Governments have not just come to regulate athletics, but also to use sports as a tool to advance their own foreign relations. In particular, sports have been tools of nationalism, as countries rally behind their national teams. In this course, students will explore the history of sports, from the ancient world to modern times. Students will develop an understanding of what athletics have meant to different cultures. The course will then examine the impact that athletic competition has on government and politics. Although sports are typically dismissed as a merely recreational venture, it is clear that sports have distinct political power. By studying specific moments in sports and world history, such as the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics, students will begin to see that athletic competition means more than a gold medal or a trophy. They will look at the power of sports to unite or even divide nations through examinations of film, newspapers, and academic articles. Students will also explore the politics of gender, race, and globalization through the lens of athletic competition. Finally, students will examine more modern political topics, such as stadium building, in order to determine if sports can provide a sustainable economic future for cities in need of financial development. During this part of the course, students will take a trip to New York City to explore two new stadiums. NOTE: Students who take this course will be working alongside students in grades 9–12.
The Literary Field Magazine is a student-published creative writing project open to students in grades 7–PG. The magazine will feature artwork, photography, poetry, short stories, and essays. Students will work under the guidance of Ross faculty and published writers who will broaden the artistic and ambitious efforts of our student writers. The magazine will enhance critical and creative thought and combine historical and cultural understanding. NOTE: Students who take this course will be working alongside students in grades 9–12.
|GRADES 9–12 OFF-CAMPUS COURSES|Change-Making for a Sustainable Cambodia and World Visit blogJapan: The Sustainable “WA” Visit blogLands of Ice and Fire: Sustainability Issues from Alaska to Mexico Visit blogMississippi Sustainable: Service Learning Visit blogPreserving Tradition and Culture in Turkey Visit blogRSTA Travel Course to Brazil Visit blogSri Lanka: Mind, Body, Earth Visit blogSustainability and Marine Ecology of the U.S. Virgin Islands Visit blogTaiwan: Food, Culture, and Sustainability Visit blogThe Wonders of Thailand: Sustainability Through Tourism Visit blog
Change-Making for a Sustainable Cambodia and World
The beautiful Kingdom of Cambodia once housed the Southeast Asian Khmer Empire, which constructed such marvels as the fabled temple of Angkor Wat, the largest temple complex in the world. In modern times, Cambodia has suffered through foreign invasion, European colonialism, intrusions of the Vietnam War, and a shattering genocide orchestrated by the Khmer Rouge. Today, Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world, with a population vulnerable to a host of issues such as poverty, lack of education, corruption, inadequate medical care, human trafficking and other forms of exploitation, environmental degradation, and a lack of basic public services like access to clean water. In the past decade, there has been a dramatic increase in “voluntourism,” international travel by relatively wealthy people who want to help and perform service in countries like Cambodia. Voluntourism can be controversial because it sometimes prioritizes the wealthy travelers’ desire to do good deeds over the genuine needs of target communities, resulting in questionably effective service efforts. In worst-case scenarios, the well-intentioned motives of “voluntours” has contributed to such troubling phenomena as “orphanage tourism” and the manufacture of social problems in order to attract tourists. In this course, students will learn about Cambodia’s fantastic efforts to address social problems through local, authentic, mission-driven enterprises with the goal of making Cambodia a more just and sustainable place while inspiring visitors about socially responsible and personally meaningful tourism, work, and service. Students will learn about the rich history and traditions of Cambodia, the dark history of its genocide in the 1970s, and the problems the country currently faces. They will visit Cambodia’s magnificent temple complexes, including a sunrise visit to Angkor Wat, and the sobering Tuol Sleng genocide museum and the Killing Fields. They will spend time with vibrant and inspiring change-makers in Cambodia’s “comeback capital,” Phnom Penh (including the Phare Ponleu Selpak Circus), and in the epicenter of Cambodia’s social enterprise community at Siem Reap. They will visit a floating village on Southeast Asia’s largest lake, the Tonle Sap, and perform rural community development service in a three-day homestay on Koh P’Dao, an island in the middle of the Mekong River and home to one of Cambodia’s most successful ecotourism initiatives. Throughout the journey, students will be engaged in specialized curriculum on such topics as Khmer culture, voluntourism, international development, responsible giving, global citizenship, social enterprise, cultural difference, Buddhism, trials of the perpetrators of genocide, and more.
Japan: The Sustainable “WA”
WA (wah) is a Japanese word that means both traditional Japanese culture, and harmony and unity. This course is designed to present students with an introductory glance into the Japanese approach to the sustainable future in the areas of environment, culture, and values. Students will experience firsthand the Japanese culture and way of life as they look at how this highly efficient and technologically savvy nation recycles, reuses, and reconsiders its material waste. They will also examine how the culture reconciles past traditions with modern practices, and how traditional codes of ethics (i.e., core values) are practiced so that people can live in harmony with those around them as well as with the natural world. With nothing more than a backpack (no suitcases allowed) and walking shoes, students will live the Japanese way, making their way from the busy business capital of Osaka to a small fishing village in southern Kyusyu, exploring everything inbetween in a quest to observe how the Japanese society interprets sustainability. Students will visit a slew of historical and cultural landmarks (museums, shrines, temples, and factories) and meet professionals and locals as they attempt to understand the Japanese way of “WA.” Students will do this all in an effort to determine, among other questions, how it is that a nation with so little land and 127 million people can still manage to be so kind to the planet. Finally, students will reflect upon how their own worldwide carbon footprint can be adapted to meet the sustainable needs of humanity’s future.
Lands of Ice and Fire: Sustainability Issues from Alaska to Mexico
This travel course will provide a vivid introduction for students to the issues of climate change and species sustainability. The trip will navigate from the Denali National Park in the heart of central Alaska, through the redwood forests and Central Valley of drought-stricken California, to the streets of urban Los Angeles, and finish in the impoverished farming villages of Oaxaca, Mexico. In Alaska, the students will experience dogsledding, camp in the wilderness, investigate the impact of a changing world environment on native culture, and perhaps catch a glimpse of the aurora borealis, or northern lights. In California, they will analyze the impact of the current five-year drought and the changing environment that threatens both native species and agricultural production. In Los Angeles, students will meet immigrants from Latin America and work with world-famous photographers Ron Haviv and Michael Robinson Chávez to document the challenges of the urban environment. Finally, in Oaxaca, they will witness the impact of climate change and industrial agriculture on the traditional native culture. Along the way, students will see numerous examples of flora and fauna, from caribou in Alaska, to majestic redwood forests in California, to dolphins and whales on the coast of Mexico. The students will use still and video photography as well as personal interviews to document the impact of a changing environment on the culture and species throughout the Americas. They will have a variety of options for shooting conceptual, documentary, and landscape photography and will create portfolios and media-based products that relate to their understanding of climate change and sustainability.
Mississippi Sustainable: Service Learning
Moss Point and Turkey Creek are coastal communities rooted in African-American history. Settled in 1866 by recently emancipated slaves, the few acres now known as Turkey Creek were a vibrant, self-sufficient neighborhood with farms, homesteads, and the first African-American school in the region. Its location on the “other side of the swamp” kept it insulated until recently, with developers trying to stake claims and residents fighting to preserve this culturally and ecologically important area. Redevelopment, industrial pollution, and Hurricane Katrina have hit Turkey Creek, Mississippi, hard, and now the community is fighting to survive. Students will learn about the culture of the people in the area and their history. They will work together on projects that address pressing needs in the surrounding community and teach valuable skills: problem solving, resilience, and teamwork. They will do the work and learn from professionals. Volunteer work will include construction projects, working with children, and environmental and agricultural projects. Cultural learning and friendship are values of the Visions program. Participants will experience the culture in a way that is uniquely different from being a tourist; they will share a common goal with local people and work with them to achieve it. Participants will feel like they are part of the community. Throughout the course, students will document their experience in handwritten journals and discuss topics such as climate change and sustainability. They will learn from their observations and the past history of the area to think about challenges of the future.
Preserving Tradition and Culture in Turkey
Students will begin the course in Turkey’s capital, Istanbul, which is a unique city to visit because it straddles the border of Europe and Asia. Here, the students’ study of Turkish tradition and culture will begin, under the guidance of an experienced tour guide. Students will observe how the Turkish people sustain and preserve their culture throughout the entire tour by interacting with art, history, religion, music, dance, and other cultural artifacts. From Istanbul, students will travel to the cities of Eceabat, Canakkale, Troy, Bergama Kusadasi, Pamukkale, and Bursa before returning to Istanbul to wrap up the trip. In each city, students will visit museums and historical sites to experience how sustainability of culture and history is achieved. Additionally, students will focus on how Turkey’s geographic location has been influential on its culture. Throughout the course of their travels, students will document the many different cultural artifacts, artworks, and experiences they witness to ultimately complete their final project, which is to recreate one of these pieces as a representation of sustainability in Turkish culture.
RSTA Travel Course to Brazil
In its continued quest to become a leading tennis training center in the northeast, RSTA will take students on a journey to practice and learn from the coach of one of the former number one male tennis players on the ATP Tour, Gustavo Kuerten. On this trip students will explore the varied teachings of Larri Passos and his philosophy of humility and perseverance through hard work. They will play against Larri’s pupils and witness the true Latin American clay court style of tennis, which also epitomizes the balance of aggression and kindness on the tennis court. Our students will attend lectures with Larri to learn more about training on an ATP Tour player and the trials and tribulations of injuries and the importance of physical training for longevity of tennis as well as life long health. After a week and a half of tennis training and playing, the students will have more than deserved the other side of their work: the leisure side of Larri’s philosophy. Students will take a break from the intense training by touring the capital city and 2nd largest city in the Santa Catarina state in southern Brazil, Florianopolis. They will enjoy the beachfront ocean views of the Costao do Santinho resort and relax in Camboriu (known as the little Rio) to partake of its gorgeous beaches and views. Lastly students will visit the biggest city in all of Latin America, Sao Paulo. Sao Paulo, is a city of great diversity in cultures and religion. The ‘city that never sleeps’ will more than offer an opportunity for students to exercise the balance of rigorous work and yet quiet artistry as they visit the Latin American Museum, Ibirapuera Park, and Sao Paulo Museum.
Sri Lanka: Mind, Body, Earth
During this 14-day Field Academy course, which aims to promote spiritual mindfulness, social consciousness, and environmental awareness, students will immerse themselves in the spiritual and traditional lifestyle of Buddhist South Asia. Upon arrival in the capital, Colombo, students will take a walking tour of the historic city, followed by a cooking lesson on how to prepare traditional dishes using fresh, local ingredients. Students will then travel to Sigirya, where they will ascend the ancient Dambulla Cave Temple and visit the ancient palace of Sigirya, both UNESCO Heritage Sites and prime examples of ancient urban planning. After exploring these sites, students will participate in traditional almsgiving to the local monks, followed by a Buddhist sermon and blessing. Students will then embark on a walking trek of the surrounding villages to appreciate the local biodiversity and traditional way of life. Moving on from the plains of Sirigya, students will travel to the hills of Kandy, Sri Lankan “tea country.” Here, students will learn traditional methods of Buddhist meditation and mindfulness and experience a day in the life of a monk or nun at the local monastery. After a taste of monastic life, students will trek past waterfalls and limestone caves to a traditional tea plantation to learn about sustainable farming and tea production. Students will finish their time in Kandy visiting a locally owned elephant orphanage, where they will feed and wash rescued elephants. After Kandy, students will head to the southern coast of Sri Lanka, where they will engage in volunteer work helping to renovate local schools. Students will complete their trip exploring the historically rich colonial town of Galle and the surrounding pristine beaches before returning to Colombo to return home.
Sustainability and Marine Ecology of the U.S. Virgin Islands
Students will experience the island of St. John and its ecosystems while learning about the challenges faced by the surrounding coral reefs and inhabitants, flora and fauna, and the island communities. Students will learn about the islands’ dynamic but fragile ecosystems and how to respect and preserve them. Hands-on activities will include working in a waterside marine biology laboratory, field exploration, and specimen collection. Students will dive into experiential learning through field activities that will include hiking, swimming, snorkeling, and boating. Lectures by local experts will prepare students to optimally experience and synthesize their interactions with the ecosystem. Students will also engage in community service activities to assist in the preservation of the island’s natural form. Students will explore the U.S. Virgin Islands on a catamaran day trip to compare and contrast their observations of biodiversity from different areas and habitats found around the island. Findings will be catalogued and shared through online resources such as iNaturalist. The Ross travel group will stay at the Virgin Island Environmental Resource Station VIERS for the two weeks of the course. Additional course time will be spent on campus and in surrounding local natural learning environments.
Prerequisite: Students must be capable swimmers.
Taiwan: Food, Culture, and Sustainability
In this travel study course, students will visit Taiwan, where they will have many unique opportunities to immerse themselves in Chinese language and the country's contemporary history and vibrant culture. This two-week study tour will allow students not only to see the beautiful island as tourists, but also to experience the area as an insider and live in the culture. During the two-week study, students will receive Chinese language instruction and learn about art and culture, such as local architecture, calligraphy, painting, tea culture, and culinary culture. In addition, the course will also provide students with the opportunity to expand upon their understanding of sustainability from their studies at Ross, as they will experience firsthand the effects of capitalism and human consumption on the natural world.
The Wonders of Thailand: An Examination in Sustainability Through Tourism
In this travel course, students will examine both how tourism allows communities to maintain economic viability and how the nation of Thailand remains viable amidst globalization through sustainable tourism. Students will initially experience a homestay, living with families in Ban Talae Nok village, exploring the surrounding environments, and learning about the impact of the 2004 tsunami on the lives of the villagers. They will learn about rural life in the village and how it has preserved its traditional cultural elements. Then, students will head to Kuraburi, where they will experience a night market—a staple of both local economy and tourist appeal. The stay at Kuraburi includes a study of the traditional martial art Muay Thai, and they will practice the art while learning about its cultural, religious, and economic significance. Next, students will take a day to recharge at the Ranong Hot Springs before heading to Cheow Larn Lake to stay in floating bungalows on the water and explore the environment while swimming and kayaking. Finally, students will stay at Khao Sok National Park, where they will learn about and witness firsthand the lives of elephants in modern Thailand. Students will use their own personal experiences to develop an understanding of the importance of preserving the environment and traditional practices, both in Thailand and around the world. Not only does this underscore the salience of sustainability, but it opens one’s eyes to the many ways economic needs may be met while embracing preservation. After experiencing the natural and cultural wonders of Thailand, students will analyze how preservation and presentation of traditional values, methods, and ecosystems can be a true source of financial security through international tourism.
|GRADES 9–12 ON-CAMPUS COURSES|Art and SustainabilityDesigning in the Style of Rube Goldberg Visit blogFood HistoryThe History and Politics of SportsInnovation Lab: Sustainability Hack-a-Thon Visit blogIntegrative Well-BeingLiterary MagazineMusical Theater WorkshopRelease the Kraken! Gods and Heroes of Ancient Greece
Art and Sustainability
This course is for motivated students who wish to explore contemporary art and activism in writing, dance, and film on the East End and in New York City. Students will examine how the arts nourish and sustain cultural identity and community and their potential to influence ecological sustainability by experiencing the vibrancy of current locations in New York City and the East End. Students will investigate their ideas about sustainability by engaging in their own art production and experimental writing, drawing inspiration from visits to artist studios, art centers, museums, music, and dance performances.
Designing in the Style of Rube Goldberg
In this course, students will study Rube Goldberg machines, overly complex contraptions designed with humor and a narrative to accomplish a simple task. They will then design and construct their own Rube Goldberg machine. The simple tasks the students’ machines perform could be anything from flipping a light switch to put a Pop-Tart in a toaster to warm to whatever their imagination creates, which will be the force that drives this course. This is a hands-on, workshop-style course.
This course will chronologically evaluate world history by investigating the food culture of major civilizations from prehistory through the present day. The primary text that students will be responsible for is Food: A Culinary History by Jean-Louis Flandrin and Massimo Montanari. After the study of each civilization, students will cook a substantial meal that was discussed in the text. Key topics that students will debate include the prehistoric paleo diet, the importation and exportation of food across Asia and Europe into North America, and our contemporary food culture, which the authors describe as “McDonaldization.” The text will be discussed in a seminar-style setting with a focus on cultural and environmental sustainability. By the end of the course, students will understand how cultures across history were able to create dishes from the cultivation of local and seasonal resources.
The History and Politics of Sports
This Field Academy course explores how sports can challenge or reinforce political power through their programs, fans, and teams. Sports have held an important place in the culture of many nations around the world, and due to this importance, sports and politics often intersect. Governments have not just come to regulate athletics, but also to use sports as a tool to advance their own foreign relations. In particular, sports have been tools of nationalism, as countries rally behind their national teams. In this course, students will explore the history of sports, from the ancient world to modern times. Students will develop an understanding of what athletics have meant to different cultures. The course will then examine the impact that athletic competition has on government and politics. Although sports are typically dismissed as a merely recreational venture, it is clear that sports have distinct political power. By studying specific moments in sports and world history, such as the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics, students will begin to see that athletic competition means more than a gold medal or a trophy. They will look at the power of sports to unite or even divide nations through examinations of film, newspapers, and academic articles. Students will also explore the politics of gender, race, and globalization through the lens of athletic competition. Finally, students will examine more modern political topics, such as stadium building, in order to determine if sports can provide a sustainable economic future for cities in need of financial development. During this part of the course, students will take a trip to New York City to explore two new stadiums.
Innovation Lab: Sustainability Hack-a-Thon
In this course, students will participate in a number of Innovation Lab projects that involve sustainability issues. The course follows the “hack-a-thon” model of rapid development, where teams work on a single project in intensive collaborative work sessions. The focus will be on designing and building systems that use technology to increase energy efficiency and minimize the exploitation of natural resources. Projects may include building greenhouses for sustainable agriculture, constructing low-footprint housing, designing disaster relief shelters, deploying alternative energy systems, and gathering environmental and ecological data. These projects will be hands-on, and some will require students to work outdoors. The course is open to both Innovation Lab and non–Innovation Lab students.
In this course, students will engage in strengthening their mind, body, and spirit as differentiated areas of growth and development and interconnected avenues through which students can observe and experience integrated well-being. The course will draw on both Eastern and Western traditions and the current movement toward integrating the two traditions as a more holistic approach to personal care. Each day, students will engage in learning and inquiry that will explore their strengths, potential, and edge, and take initiative in healthful practices for self-development. A daily physical fitness routine will include cardiovascular exercises, strength training, high-intensity interval/circuit training, yoga, and contemplative and reflective practices at the beginning and end of the day. The course will be held mainly on campus, with day trips to local fitness studios or wellness facilities (e.g., local yoga studio, group exercise gym, spin studio). We will also invite three local specialists (one each week) who can guide the students in a deeper inquiry about adolescent development through the lens of nutrition, physical fitness, and social and emotional intelligence. To develop experiential and participatory learning about healthy eating and nutrition, students will take turns making daily breakfast with deliberate focus on balanced meal and nutritional needs. There will be weekly self-assessment with a focus on where they experienced and observed growth and a culminating assessment at the end of their third week. The self-assessment will include ability to manage and regulate stress and anxiety response; improvement in physical fitness in terms of strength, agility, speed, endurance, and mobility; and social and emotional awareness.
The Literary Field Magazine is a student-published creative writing project open to students in grades 7–PG. The magazine will feature artwork, photography, poetry, short stories, and essays. Students will work under the guidance of Ross faculty and published writers who will broaden the artistic and ambitious efforts of our student writers. The magazine will enhance critical and creative thought and combine historical and cultural understanding.
Musical Theater Workshop
Students will work in pairs and small groups to prepare excerpts from Broadway musicals where a scene of dialogue flows into a song. The course will particularly emphasize how an actor can derive clues to a character’s motivations and subtext through careful examination of the character’s words, other characters’ words, and the melodic and harmonic structures present in what the character sings. Students will explore techniques for healthy vocalization, character-driven movement onstage, and effective pacing of lines (both spoken and sung). The course will also include a trip to Manhattan to see a Broadway show. The student performers will present their musical theater excerpts in a culminating performance at the end of the course.
Release the Kraken! Gods and Heroes of Ancient Greece
Pegasus, that winged horse, flies again! In this course, students will enjoy and explore a series of awesome stories—Perseus and his horrible encounters with the frightening Medusa and that unspeakable sea monster, the Kraken; the journey of Jason and his Argonauts, not only to acquire the Golden Fleece, but also to claim his rightful place; and the Trojan War, which is the important but often overlooked lead-up to The Odyssey. Ancient Greek mythology informs reading and study of much subsequent Western literature. Acquaintance with these exciting stories will enable students to appreciate more fully their studies in language, cultural history, and literature classes at Ross School. Very importantly, students will consider how war, both its motivation and direct impact, affect the physical, social, and ecological environment. Connections and comparisons will be made to current circumstances, and considerable attention will be given to how war ties into (and/or undermines) sustainability. Students will read, in class, most of these works in modern English prose, and will view films based on the works. For the final project, students may choose to perform one of the stories or to create and present their own “Ancient Greek” myth.