Teaching Environmental Policy
My AHS concentration is in Environmental Policy. I initially struggled with what I would do for my AHS Capstone project, as most of my initial possibilities included involvement in actual governments or joining and being active in environmental organizations. However, it quickly became clear to me that these were not possible to do within the scope of one semester. My personal goal for my AHS Capstone was to somehow make a positive impact on our environment, so I tried to think of other ways to do so. I had previously written an essay where I polled students and schools on whether high schools offered environmental science courses, and whether students actually took the courses. Less than half of the schools even offered some type of environmental science, and the environmental science courses that did exist were often seen as lesser courses that students took if they weren’t dedicated enough or had high enough grades for AP physics, chemistry, or biology. I decided to try to leave a positive impact on the environment by trying to change the amount of environmental education presented to high school students. Environmental policy is a worthwhile topic because it is extremely current and relevant in today’s world, and offers an opportunity for students to be introduced to interdisciplinary learning by helping them explore how various subjects such as science, economics, and ethics are involved in the policy-making process. I decided that writing an entire course’s worth of lesson plans on environmental policy would be useless, as it would be likely that the course would fall into the same caliber as current environmental science courses. Additionally, it would be hard to implement without a teacher already learned in environmental policy. Therefore, I decided to write two lesson plans that hit some of the basics of environmental policy, to be integrated within a government and politics course – a common history elective for juniors and seniors in high school. The first lesson plan focuses on environmental ethics and international whaling policy over the past century and features a research and peer-teaching component. The second lesson plan is a case study that examines the debate over the Cape Cod Wind project: a 140 Mega-Watt wind farm constructed in Nantucket sound.