Environmental Symposium is a one-semester, one-credit, intro-level course that meets four times a semester at Concord Academy. These four meetings are composed of three lectures by guest speakers and one pre-lecture meeting for students to become familiarized with the speakers’ research. Lectures are often open to all members of the CA community, although the course itself is taken for credit. It covers basics about environmental issues and typically follows a new topic each year.
Gretchen Roorbach, who teaches Biology and upper-level science electives, has been the Environmental Symposium organizer for the past eight years. Roorbach says that the main goal of the course is to expose as many people as possible to environmental issues to get people involved.
Environmental Symposium first started as an environmental consortium program about 25 years ago sponsored by the Concord Land and Conservation Trust as an educational opportunity for high schoolers at CA, Middlesex School, and Concord-Carlisle High School interested in forestry and environmental issues. Former speakers have included E. O. Wilson, an influential biologist, and Daniel Schrag, a professor of environmental science and engineering at Harvard University.
Last year’s Environmental Symposium topic was environmental activism and this year’s topic is environmental justice. Environmental justice focuses on the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income. This includes social movements revolving around the fair distribution of environmental benefits and burdens. Popular topics include issues regarding food deserts; indigenous issues; and the keeping of traditions and cultures intact even with forest regulations, pipelines, and power plants crossing through minority neighborhoods. Roorbach hopes to have local speakers from areas near Concord lecture about issues affecting communities in Massachusetts right now. She also recommends that students who enjoy taking Environmental Symposium should consider taking advanced environmental science courses offered to upperclassmen.
If you are a current student interested in joining Environmental Symposium but are not currently enrolled, please contact Gretchen Roorbach!