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New Interdisciplinary Course Begins Next Year

Science teacher Andrew Harcourt’s H2O proposal has been chosen from among a number of faculty submissions to be the first AP/Cambridge Capstone course, part of a pilot program that has the Academy working in collaboration with the College Board and the University of Cambridge.

Academic Dean Peter Warsaw described the course as “a leading course that would be interdisciplinary, global and lead to a substantial final project,” for the purpose of developing critical thinking, creativity, and research and communication skills.

The course is a comprehensive scientific and historic study of water, a single period course taught by Mr. Harcourt and the newly-hired Global Studies Director, David Miller.

When asked what the new position will require, Mr. Warsaw responded “Having never had a Global Studies Director, we are about to find out what the position will require, and Mr. Miller is going to be the one to help define the role.”

The job listing for the new position stated the responsibilies of the global studies director to be “to lead the school’s international programs. This includes teaching a new class relating to global curriculum, all off-campus programs, developing and implementing evaluation tools for global education programs, working with the Academic Dean and Curriculum Committee on global curriculum development, overseeing ongoing initiatives for faculty global development, and coordinating support of international students.”

The class, which will be available to juniors, must be taken concurrently with English teacher Michael Schloat’s American Currents class, and culminates with a “Capstone Project,” a twenty-page research paper, during senior spring.

“Students are going to be looking at water quality, water chemistry, and water availability at the Deerfield level, the US level, and then the global level,” said Mr. Harcourt. In addition, students will take field trips and analyze local water and in rivers in India and China.

“Unlike most science classes, AP/Cambridge Capstone is going to consist of debates, discussions, presentations, and collaboration with local officials and scientists,” said Mr. Schloat.

The English portion of the capstone course will examine “literature that gets us to focus on the philosophical underpinnings of Mr. Harcourt’s course,” described Mr. Schloat. Like all junior English courses, the class will study American literature, with an emphasis on global resources.

“It’s not a course that studies literature about water, but the themes and ideas, such as competition for resources and how communities decide how to use or allocate natural resources,” said Mr. Harcourt.

“It is a new and interesting way of teaching these subjects,” said Cody Anderson-Salo ‘14. “I can’t wait to see what this class will be like.”

Deerfield is one of twenty schools piloting such a revolutionary course, which emphasizes cross-disciplinary thinking and global awareness, integral qualities for the leaders of tomorrow.

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