Field Academy courses are an opportunity for Upper School students and teachers to work intensively on group and individual projects during three weeks (two weeks for grades 7–8), usually in March, between Winter and Spring Terms. Classes and programs in a wide variety of subjects are offered to expose students to in-depth study, new interests, possible college/career paths, volunteer opportunities, and recreational pursuits. Many of these occur in conjunction with travel, both abroad and within the United States. Independent study projects may also be proposed. Field Academy projects often form the basis for continued study or interaction, expansion into a Senior Project, or the impetus for fundraising or other service efforts.
|GRADES 7–8 OFF-CAMPUS COURSE|Ethnology and Sustainable Ecology in Andalusia Visit blog Ethnology and Sustainable Ecology in Andalusia Visit blog
Travel Course Leaders: Anna Strong, Maureen Isbister, Jennifer Biscardi, Jon Mulhern
During this nine-day course, students explore the cultural influences of the Moors, Gypsies, Sefardi, and Christians throughout southern Spain. Using the small fishing village of La Herradura as their base, they gain firsthand experience of each of the aforementioned culture’s influence on Spanish language, food, architecture, and cultural traditions by exploring the nearby cities of Granada (where they enjoy a fabulous guided tour of Alhambra), Almuñécar, Frigiliana, and Pampaneira. While focusing on the themes of cultural and ecological sustainability, students also have the opportunity to conduct environmental research for a local archaeologist; explore the local ecosystem by kayaking around the coves of Cerro Gordo, where Phoenician merchants, pirates, and smugglers used to thrive; embark on day and night hikes; enjoy a sunset boat trip; and try their skills in a flamenco guitar workshop. Students also practice their Spanish by spending time with local students, exploring local markets, and engaging in community service on a local farm in the small town of Marro. The trip culminates with a final farewell celebration in a local castle.
|GRADES 7–8 ON-CAMPUS COURSES|Innovation Lab Visit blog
The Innovation Lab seeks to assist students in developing real world skills in technology while emphasizing human experiences so that they can create innovations that benefits people and communities. Students will watch inspiring videos and reflect on how technology will affect society in the future, engage in creative and design thinking activities, conduct independent research and undertake self-directed learning with the latest technological devices including virtual reality, 3D printing, robotics, biotechnology, alternative energy, and Internet of things.Mindful Living Visit blog
Mindful Living is an integrated health and wellness Field Academy course for grades 7 and 8 students. In this course, students explore the activities and personal choices that cultivate optimal biochemical and neurological conditions to promote positive performance and learning. In other words, students strive to feel better, look better, think better, and perform better. By engaging in daily practices and exercise routines that include meditation, yoga, functional body awareness, and total body workouts, students gain skills and knowledge in physical fitness. Additionally, students take several field trips for outdoor activities and engage in fun and challenging cooperative activities where they are asked to examine the relationship between personal wellness and social and natural environment. Trips include hikes and healthy food shopping, as well as visits to the YMCA in East Hampton to work out in the gym and swim in the pool. Ultimately, students learn about nutrition, the importance of sleep and emotional management, and how to take care of themselves in ways that support their aspiration to do well.
|GRADES 9–12 OFF-CAMPUS COURSES|Borneo: The Last Frontier Visit blog
Creating a Legacy: Looking at the Cultural Legacy of the Past to Plan for the Future—A Field Study in Western Europe Visit blog
Fiji: Service, Sport, Surfing, and Sustainability Visit blog
Hawaii: Aloha ‘ ina—An Environmental Community Service Adventure Visit blog
In the Footsteps of the Ancients: Walking the Jurassic Coast of England Visit blog
Oman: The Sands of Time Visit blog
Ross on the Road: Morocco Visit blog
Borneo: The Last Frontier Visit blog
Explore land and sea while challenging your mind and body. This is a trip for the adventurous soul, offering lessons in sustainability and conservation, rain forest and marine ecology, cultural history, and compassion for people and wildlife alike. Borneo is the third largest island in the world, making up only 1% of the world's land, yet it shelters nearly 6% of all the species on planet Earth! The rain forest and coral reefs surrounding the island rank as the most biodiverse habitats in the world. They are also the most vulnerable and threatened, as mass deforestation, mining, and forest fires have cut Borneo’s original rain forest area in half. As stewards of our planet, students help restore forests by planting trees. They observe critically endangered species, like orangutans, one of our closest primate relatives, and participate in local and global rehabilitation initiatives.
This is a physically challenging and rewarding adventure. Students hike rain forest mountains, zipline over clear tropical waters, river raft, snorkel, and enjoy white sandy beaches. There may be opportunities for scuba diving for those who are certified prior to the trip. Through underwater and seashore exploration, students learn to identify the creatures of the sea and understand the ecological benefits of Borneo’s marine protected areas. In addition to preserving the natural environment, travelers immerse themselves in indigenous cultures. Many of the native tribes of Borneo have preserved and passed down their traditional, sustainable ways of life for hundreds of years. This is impressive in the wave of modernization sweeping the world.
Borneo offers an inspiring example of collaboration between three countries—Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei—which all share the remaining rain forest and must work together to preserve its rich habitat, natural resources, and ancient traditions. Lodging will be a combination of comfortable modern hotels with standard amenities, rustic longhouse dwellings, and brief tent camping. Join us on a life-changing experience to preserve and play in paradise!Creating a Legacy: Looking at the Cultural Legacy of the Past to Plan for the Future—A Field Study in Western Europe Visit blog
This European road trip focuses on preparing students to address the question of what their generation will leave behind. Using Danny Hillis’s 10,000-year clock as an example of designing an artifact for future generations, students consider the impact of their choices in dealing with environmental issues and the significant role they will play in designing for the future sustainability of our planet. Students travel to Western Europe to explore historic sites of cultural significance, starting in Paris to visit the Louvre, the Cathedral of Notre Dame on the Île de La Cité (where Paris was born in ancient times), the Place de la Concorde, and the top of the Eiffel Tower. With a foundation in study of this famous modern city, they then head to Southern France, stopping in the Poitiers region to visit a medieval castle and the ancient rock shelter of Cap Blanc, and then to the Musée National de Préhistoire in the Bordeaux region, to see the world’s largest collection of Paleolithic artifacts. Students consider the Ross curriculum’s essential question “What is an artifact?” as they learn about enduring artifacts across spans of time. They travel to Bilbao, Spain, to see the Altamira Caves, where Upper Paleolithic–era paintings were discovered in the late 19th century, and consider what might have been the intentions behind these paintings. Students finish with a visit to a World Heritage site of Sintra in Portugal and a day in Lisbon, the center of Europe’s longest-lived overseas empire. Along the way, students explore other cities including Bordeaux (France) and Pamplona (Spain), where they have a chance to explore and to meet local citizens. The trip focus on cultural historical sites and the artifacts left behind in Western Europe leads into contemplation and reflection upon what today’s generation and culture will leave behind.Fiji: Service, Sport, Surfing, and Sustainability Visit blog
In this once-in-a-lifetime travel experience to the tropical paradise of Fiji, students are immersed in the island’s culture and communities on a sport, surf, and service-related adventure. While Fiji’s beauty is unmatched, it is a country with great need, and students work not only to protect coral reefs while learning about the customs, dances, and rich life of native Fijian cultures, but also provide essential services to local populations on a daily basis. Students work with several organizations, living with and integrating into local island communities while engaging in sports-related services for young people, mentoring local youth, helping with sustainable food systems and coral reef preservation, and supporting the maintenance of structures and daily life in villages. Throughout, students reside in a stunning beachside environment. In between days of work and service, students snorkel, canoe, visit mud caves, and bask in the beauty of the culture and natural surroundings.
Following 12 days in the northern island communities, students travel to the Coral Coast of the mainland for a service-related sustainable surf experience. While staying at Fiji’s first certified sustainable surf resort, students have the rare opportunity to experience Fiji’s top surf locations under the guidance of local experts, instructors, and lifeguards. Students also visit local organizations, such as orphanages and after-school programs in the area. Nonsurfing activities include fishing, yoga, stand-up paddleboard, visiting the native village of Vunaniu to experience its culture and customs, and viewing Fiji’s national sport of rugby.
Essential questions for this course include “How do Fiji’s geography, climate, and natural resources affect the way Fijians live?” “How does cultural preservation empower youth in the face of adversity?” “How can a foreigner come to understand the unique cultural aspects of Fiji’s communities and work with cultural humility to help?” “How does ecotourism affect true ecological sustainable development in native cultures?” The educational focus of cultural preservation and understanding, ecological sustainability, and youth sport-related service and education, while immersed in Fijian culture and beauty, makes this experience a life-changing one.Hawaii: Aloha ‘ ina—An Environmental Community Service Adventure Visit blog
This course, named for the Hawaiian phrase for "love of the land," takes the students through an environmental community service program in which they explore the beauty and culture of the Hawaiian Island of Maui. In ancient Hawaii, the konohiki, or caretakers, looked after the ahupua’a, the land, stretching from the mountains to the sea. Students travel to Maui to understand the konohiki way of life. They experience the ancient traditions of the Kanaka Maoli (native Hawaiians) while helping to preserve the land and the waters of this paradise. Students travel to ancient agricultural villages to work with a grassroots organization whose aim is to stabilize, protect, and restore Hawaiian cultural and natural resources, removing invasive species and restoring the land with native plantings originating from the days of the ancient Hawaiians. Students also attend a botanist talk and embark on a guided sensory/discovery hike to learn to identify medicinal/edible plants. The marine life of Maui faces threats from overharvesting, stream diversion, lack of education on fishery management and rules, sea level rise, and ocean warming. Students contribute to efforts to decrease the amount of sediment and pollutants flowing into Maui's nearshore waters from land-based pollution sources, and spend considerable time participating in marine studies and science-based exploration. Much of these studies will be conducted while snorkeling. Students also visit the Maui Ocean Center and Aquarium and meet marine biology professionals behind the scenes. With consistent trade winds, Hawaii is an excellent candidate for wind power. Students visit a wind farm and learn about the sustainable wind energy efforts on Maui. Students also explore the town of Lahaina, where they participate in surf lessons with local guides, shop, swim, and relax under Maui’s oldest living banyan tree. Students visit the Kihei Canoe Club, which focuses on the tradition of outrigger canoes, learn about this tradition, and, weather permitting, try their hands at paddling an outrigger themselves! Students hike through and explore Haleakala National Park and Iao Valley State Park.
Accommodations are tent camping at Camp Olowalu (tents provided; visitors bring their own sleeping bags and mats). Visiting this rustic retreat is like visiting Hawaii the way it used to be—a peaceful and fun tropical paradise year-round. Experience some of the best whale watching, snorkeling, and kayaking Maui has to offer right off this beachfront property. Hike multiple nearby trails and discover the traces of ancient Hawaii. Adventure is waiting for you right outside your camping grounds.In the Footsteps of the Ancients: Walking the Jurassic Coast of England Visit blog
Few places in the world are as breathtaking or as historically important as the southwest coast of England. For millennia, humans have crossed this ancient land, where 180 million years of geological time is laid out to view. On this Field Academy trip, students experience the beauty of walking along the dramatic cliffs and shoreline of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in South Devon in the same way our ancestors did, asking, “What is a World Heritage Site?” and “How do we preserve a particular landscape for future humans?”
In a world dominated by sound bites, media blitzes, and digital instruments with the latest app, the sensoryinundated person loses sight of the beauty of nature and the shared common heritage of a good walk through a beautiful landscape. For this trip, we slow down and observe, breathe, and savor the scents and sights of a region that both nourishes the senses and inspires the imagination. Students explore the changing urban environment of modern London and juxtapose the sensory-numbing experience of an ancient and modern city with the immense stillness and pristine vistas of walking along some of the most dramatic sea cliffs in the world. In the words of Harvard Professor of Landscape History John Stilgoe, “Get out now. Go outside, move deliberately, then relax, slow down, look around. Pay attention to everything. Walk. Stroll. Saunter. Go outside and walk a bit, long enough to forget programming, long enough to take in and record new surroundings. Flex the mind, a little at first, then a lot. Savor something special. All of it is free for the taking, for the taking in. Take it, take it in, take in more every weekend, every day, and quickly it becomes the theater that intrigues, relaxes, fascinates, seduces, and above all expands any mind focused on it. Outside lies utterly ordinary space open to any casual explorer willing to find the extraordinary. Outside lies unprogrammed awareness that at times becomes directed serendipity. Outside lies magic.” (Outside Lies Magic, 1998).Oman: The Sands of Time Visit blog
For over 10,000 years Oman has lain at the crossroads of civilization and culture. With stunning landscapes, lively culture and cuisine, and eons of history, Oman offers the opportunity for students to be transported back in time as they traverse the rolling desert dunes and breathtaking fjords of the Arabian peninsula asking questions such as “How does archaeological and geological evidence tell the story of human history?" and "What can ancient history teach modern humans about sustainability and their own future?"
Arriving in Muscat, the capital, students visit the Grand Mosque and National Museum, and round off the day polishing up their bargaining skills in a traditional souq. From Muscat, students then travel down the coast to Wadi Shab, where they hike and explore coastal Bronze Age archaeological sights with an expert anthropologist, who accompanies students throughout the trip. After volunteering at a sea turtle nesting site and visiting the ancient city of Qalhat, students learn about Omani everyday life, from date farming to the mythical djinn of Arabic culture. Students spend a day riding camels like a Bedouin and a night under the desert stars, after which they visit the ancient fort city of Nizwa before heading to the coastal city of Khasab. It is from here that for the next two days students live like the mythical Arabian sailor of Sinbad; students set off on a two-day expedition on a traditional Omani dhow to explore the fjords of Oman and learn about ancient navigation. Upon returning ashore, students visit the Iron Age temple and rock art site of Wadi al-Hayl before making an overland crossing into the United Arab Emirates. On their final day, students have the opportunity to visit the modern city of Dubai before heading back home after this unique experience.Ross on the Road: Morocco Visit blog
This Field Academy course focuses on fiction and nonfiction storytelling as students explore and document the rich cultural diversity of Morocco, asking, “What can we learn by observing and experiencing firsthand the life of the people from another culture?” Morocco possesses a diverse and lively history that has witnessed a long succession of different ruling people, including the Romans, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabs, and Berbers. Morocco’s rich history, multicultural population, and varied geography make it a fascinating country. Its villages and cities offer a striking contrast of modern architecture, with ancient kasbahs, mosques, and souks alongside a mix of Berber, Arab, and African peoples. The Atlas Mountain range runs like a spine from southwest to northwest, separating Moroccan cities from the vast Sahara desert. Morocco’s architecture spans from the Almoravid, Almohad, Merinid, and Saadian civilizations (11th–17th centuries) to the Alaouites (17th century to present day). The cities of Fez, Rabat, and Marrakech and the High Atlas mountains offer Ross School students a chance to experience a variety of cultures, colors, architecture and natural surroundings, including the medinas of Fez and Marrakesh, both UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The diversity of the region is reflected through many aspects of Moroccan life, including the languages, the clothing, the religion, the cuisine, and the varied cultural practices. Throughout this trip, students have several opportunities to work with underprivileged children in a variety of locations, including a circus school run by the AMESIP Foundation. Through photography or video, journaling, and the web, students document their experiences, considering the essential question “How does the experience of cultural exchange impact the students as individuals and as members of the global society?” They present their stories for peers and teachers at the Ross School.
|GRADES 9–12 ON-CAMPUS COURSES|Happiness Boot Camp Visit blog
This course asks students to analyze what a truly all-encompassing healthy and happy lifestyle is composed of and how their lives can be affected by the choices they make. Students discover the positive aspects of the world around them by thinking, learning, and doing “happiness.” Students spend their days learning about what makes people happy and healthy from different angles, and engage in activities to make them and others happy and healthy!Looking at History Through Films Visit blog
This course screens movies from the 20th and 21st centuries, including documentary, Hollywood, and independent films that cover a variety of genres. In addition to documentary films, students screen films based on literature (including historical fiction) or films that interpret specific historic periods or events. The film screenings are complemented by relevant short readings and discussion. After each film, students discuss the films and research to find historical accuracy. They keep a daily journal of their findings and reflections on all the films shown.The Melting Pot: Exploring Culture and Identity Through Food Visit blog
In this course, students explore and share their own customs and practices in the kitchen and beyond. Through the preparation and sharing of meals, readings, films, and group discussion, students learn about the diverse cultures at Ross and in New York, and what makes them both similar and unique. Students travel into New York City to explore the different neighborhoods and eateries that make New York City the largest "melting pot" in the world. Students investigate sustainability issues around global and local food distribution and participate in related service-learning activities. Lastly, there is a wellness component to this course, for which students keep a daily food log to understand their own eating habits and food choices and consider how they can be enhanced for the better.Musical Theater Workshop Visit blog
Students work in pairs and small groups to prepare excerpts from Broadway musicals, with a focus on moments where a scene of dialogue flows into song. The course particularly emphasizes 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 explore techniques for healthy vocalization, character-driven movement onstage, and effective pacing of lines (both spoken and sung). A trip to Manhattan to see professional actors in a Broadway show provides crucial inspiration for the student performers, who present their own musical theater scenes in a culminating performance at the end of the Field Academy term. Prerequisites: Students must be reasonably comfortable with spoken English, able to match pitch when singing, and willing to explore physical movement, both improvised and choreographed.Nature Within and Without Visit blog
In this course, students study and venture out into the natural world of eastern Long Island, exploring their own relationship with nature—nature within as well as nature without. There are three main components to the class:
- Expeditions into local nature areas, including hiking trails, nature preserves, and other natural attractions. Local sites visited, and trekked through, include Walking Dunes, the seal haul-out trail in Montauk, Morton’s Wildlife Refuge, and Mashomack Preserve on Shelter Island.
- Wellness activities that promote mental and physical well-being. In addition to weekly hikes, students visit a local yoga studio as well as the spa at Gurney’s Inn for swimming, meditation, and other wellness activities.
- In-class studies, including lectures, movies, short stories, and research that examines the relationship between humans and the natural world. Topics include geology, astronomy, environmental studies, the individual as a complex organism, and—importantly—what makes humans both healthy and happy. Students document their experiences in the medium of their choice. Possible media include photography, video, and writing. Students present their projects at the midpoint of the course and again at the end. Grades will be based on daily involvement and individual projects.