Blake Working to Address Climate Change in Programs, Institutional Advancement

Student travel, curriculum finds ways to be climate conscious

December 9, 2019

Bernadette Whitely

The topic of climate change is incredibly pertinent today, and the school is engaging with it inside and outside classes. Dr. Anne Graybeal, Associate Head of School, says, “We want all of our students to think critically and debate about current policy, current events, and topics of interest. We let the curriculum do the work of exploring the subject at hand.” 

Director of Global Programming and Social Studies teacher, Dion Crushshon ‘88, has incorporated a carbon offset program to combat the inevitable carbon emitted in travel, specifically plane travel. Students are given the opportunity to participate in the program if they are traveling as part of a Global Program. Crushshon says, “I found a resource where families could purchase carbon offsets. So, I just did the task of calculating how many pounds of carbon dioxide are emitted.”   

For the Dominican Republican and Rwanda Trip over the 2018-2019 school year’s spring break and summer break, respectively, these offsets were optional to families. But Crushshon states, “That was just a start. For the US-Mexico Border Program, I purchased the offsets for everyone. I just built it into the budget. And that’s my plan going forward, that offsets will be factored in.”

Each carbon offset saves one metric ton of carbon from being emitted into the atmosphere. This occurs by the production of clean and renewable resources, such as energy, preventing greenhouse gases from leaving being emitted, and allowing greenhouse gases to be oriented toward the preservation of forests. 

This growing program is a testament to the intentional work of Crushshon for Global Programs. Crushshon shares, “The goal of travel is to try to engage with folks we wouldn’t otherwise and to learn about other countries and cultures. But at the same time, there is a cost involved. And oftentimes, we haven’t thought about the costs of our carbon footprint, and also the garbage that we generate, and the water that we use. We just want to become more conscious about how much energy we’re using and how much waste we are using when we’re doing these experiences because they’re really important and valuable.”

Locally, the Legacy Day activities this year incorporated this topic and inspired action in the community for the environment. This manifested itself in several ways, including planting native plants. Additionally, the school offers professional learning grants that can be purposed toward the study of the effects of climate change in countries such as Iceland. The Graybeal remarks, “[we are focused on] find[ing] natural synergies in an already busy school, identifying ways that we can leverage already existing programs that let us talk about climate change and the environment, and environmental stewardship.”

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