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Greely High School Global Activism Class

posted Nov 16, 2012, 5:18 PM by Dawna Green   [ updated Jan 4, 2013, 11:13 AM ]
January 2012 Spotlight

Greely High School Global Activism Class

In 2005, Greely High School teacher Julie Doughty was approached by a group of students interested in learning more about current events. Motivated by this student initiative, Doughty designed a class that would not only focus on global issues, but would provide students an opportunity to take action to address a concrete problem.

Greely’s Global Activism class investigates successes and challenges in far reaching geographies. At the beginning of the semester, students determine a global issue with a local connection, upon which they are interested in taking action or raising awareness. Students develop skills throughout the semester to ensure that they are prepared to complete this challenge successfully. They complete a variety of assignments, including journal writing, reflective essays, choice debates and presentations. In December, students work singularly or in pairs to research an environmental issue of interest. On subjects ranging from food supply to deforestation to renewable energy, students present their environmental issue to the class with a talk, slide show and supplemental handouts. They are asked to assess the current challenge and to describe efforts being made to ameliorate the problem.

The environmental presentations lay the groundwork for the students’ final presentations in January. Projects initiated in the Global Activism class have in some cases become year-long undertakings. In 2010, Dana Hanley and Tess Carly worked in conjunction with Greely’s Global Awareness Club to raise over $4,500 for the installation of solar panels on Greely High School. Hanley and Carley also wrote grant appeals, and received an additional $5,000 from Fairchild Semiconductor and over $38,000 from Maine’s Renewable Resources Fund. Their project not only created a meaningful way for a group of students to participate in service learning, it educated the Greely community about the benefits of green technology.

The success of Doughty’s class is not only reflected in the breadth and scope of the final projects, but also by the enthusiasm exhibited by students taking the class. Robert Potts, who is working to raise money and awareness for a residential school in Jacmel, Haiti, comments that while he had a knowledge of global issues before taking Doughty’s class, he’s developed an appreciation for the nuance to many of these problems. Unlike in debates, where students argue one position, Doughty structures the class so that students engage in dialogue. Potts notes that rather than trying to win these discussions, the class works to find workable solutions to problems, weighing all available information. Doughty emphasizes that she strives to open students’ minds to different perspectives. The classroom experiences remind students that there is a big world beyond the borders of Cumberland and North Yarmouth.

posted: 12/22/2011