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Regional Round Square Conference Focuses on Finding IDEAL Environmental Solution

This spring, four Deerfield students will be attending a Round Square conference hosted by the Hotchkiss School. The conference, titled “Balancing Act: Is Sustainable Attainable?” focuses on achieving environmental sustainability.

Round Square is an international organization which links schools around the globe by the shared belief in six IDEALS:  Internationalism, Democracy, Environment, Adventure, Leadership and Service.  Schools associated with Round Square strive to be more than just institutions of higher learning; they aim to help students can become educated, responsible, and globally aware citizens.  

Unlike past international conferences that Deerfield has participated in, the Hotchkiss conference is a regional event, meaning only schools from the Americas will be attending.  Round Square Steering Committee Member Ellie Parker ’11 explained, “The conference will be a little more focused on what we, specifically in North America, are facing in terms of sustainability problems.” Parker participated in the international conference in Vancouver earlier this fall and noted it “also had an environmental focus, but was more about the world in general.”

Associate Head of School and Director of College Advising Martha Lyman remarked, “I hope that students will become more educated and come back to Deerfield to share what they learned.”

Parker, also an environmental proctor, added that “sustainability is particularly pertinent in 2009 because it not only draws on the environmental issues, but also the economy.  Being sustainable doesn’t just mean saving the Earth, but it also means reflecting on yourself, in the current economy and environmental situations, and seeing what you can do to change your ways.”      

The typical Round Square Conference encompasses many components.  Round Square Steering Committee Member Arleen Chien ’10 explained, “When I went [to the conference in Lima], we participated in barazza groups with faculty members and students.  In addition, we discussed keynote speakers, service trips, and what our own schools did to fulfill the IDEALS of Round Square.”

The students going to the conference will stay in Hotchkiss dorms.  Keynote speakers will include Alice Waters, the founder of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, and Rick Duke of The Natural Resources Defense Council’s Center for Market Innovation.  Community service opportunities consist of removing invasive plant species in the Hotchkiss Woods, cleaning up local towns and roads, performing trail maintenance in the Berkshires, and working on an organic farm.    

Ingrid Kapteyn ’09 who attended the 2007 conference in India added, “Just the experience of being on a campus with students and discussing, problem solving, and living all together is an incredible opportunity.”

Students Jason Jung ’09, Sam Gray ’10, Finn Leslie ’10, and Sarah Kim ’11 will attend the Hotchkiss conference taking place on April 20th.

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