The Exp Summer Daily

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The Experimentory Blog

Our year-round blog describes our program, values, and plans for next year.

The Exp Summer Daily

Our summer news consists of daily updates while we're in session -- giving a window into past years.

Guest Post: Annabelle on Speak for the Trees

Jul 30, 2019 11:15:31 AM

Teaching Assistant Annabelle has been working closely with Ms. Cornelius this summer to teach Finding Your Voice: Public Speaking and Speak for the Trees: Environmental Citizenship. Here, she reflects on her experience with tackling issues of global concern with the next generation of environmental leaders.

What are the causes and consequences of climate change? How are communities in developed versus developing countries affected differently, and who should shoulder the responsibility for combating climate change? How can countries around the world, each with individual interests and issues, come together to work out solutions that are fair, feasible, and effective? These are some of the complex questions that students in the Speak for the Trees class consider each morning. 

Over the course of the program, we have begun to better understand the complicated but important topic of climate change by examining it from multiple angles. We started with the scientific by learning about the greenhouse effect, rising carbon emissions, and the corresponding effects on the environment: higher temperatures and sea levels worldwide, more frequent and more severe natural disasters, and plants and animals forced to migrate north to find suitable habitats. Students even wrote and performed original skits for their classmates illustrating the greenhouse effect! 

We also learned about how human activity leads to climate change through things like deforestation and high fossil fuel usage, and we designed advertisements encouraging people to use less electricity, carpool more, ride bikes to work, and more. 

Next we turned our attention to the social side of the issue by examining how different communities are affected by climate change in developed countries (like the U.S. and Germany), developing A-countries (such as China and Brazil), and developing B-countries (like most of Southeast Asia and South America). In particular, we looked at an indigenous community in Bolivia, where rising temperatures and natural disasters related to climate change have made crops much less productive and have forced many people to move to cities where living standards are low and poverty and unemployment are common. We also talked about which countries emit the greatest share of carbon and discussed whether these countries should then bear more responsibility for mitigating climate change. 

Now we are beginning the Model-UN-style part of the course. Students work together in groups of two or three to research and better understand the unique challenges, perspectives, actions, and priorities of the countries they represent, including Bangladesh, Colombia, Norway, China, Japan, and the U.S. This allows us to consider some of the complex realities that climate change brings up. For example, how come environmentally friendly electric cars are so popular in Norway while, at the same time, Norway drills and exports hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil each year? Is it fair for developed countries, who have benefited from decades of unlimited use of fossil fuels to build their economies, to now deny developing countries that same opportunity? Over the next few days, the students will work together to draft UN-style resolutions that both address the issue of climate change and don’t unfairly set back any of the countries involved. Doing so will allow us to understand how government organizations like the UN operate and the political, social, and economic challenges that we face in trying to fight climate change.

We’re in for an exciting week, and I hope to see you at our showcase!

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The Session I crew of Speak for the Trees successfully navigated plans for addressing the climate crisis.

Annabelle assigns countries for students to delegate in a Model UN climate conference.



Students learn about the structure of Model United Nations before they begin their delegation & research projects.

The Exp Summer Daily provides news and updates while we are in session in July and August. The rest of the year, check out the Experimentory Blog for posts feature our students, teachers, classes, values, goals, and plans for the coming year.