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Humanities Workshop Addresses Climate Issues

Milton students in several humanities classes join those from six other Massachusetts schools in studying climate change and climate justice through the humanities during this year’s Humanities Workshop.

Teachers from the participating schools decided to focus on climate issues because they permeate so many aspects of life, including economic and racial inequality, human migration, and public health.

“There is a sense that climate change is just a science problem, which of course is not the case—it’s a human problem,” says Milton faculty member Alisa Braithwaite. “If our climate dies, so do we. We wanted to bring the concepts of humanities disciplines together to create a narrative that helps people to see that climate change is an urgent, human problem—one that we should be learning about and fighting for from every corner of our world.”

The Humanities Workshop is a yearlong academic project conducted by a consortium of Boston-area public, charter, and private schools. Braithwaite and Lisa Baker, both Milton English teachers, founded the workshop in 2017 as a way to affirm the humanities’ role in tackling urgent social issues. This is the second cycle; the first centered on issues of economic inequality.

“Under the umbrella of climate, students can tackle so many different topics, from how climate change relates to inequality, to public health issues like the pandemic, to migration as a result of climate change,” Baker says. “You can look back at the history of how these issues have been addressed or not addressed. Who controls the narrative, and who changes that narrative are really interesting questions to explore within the context of the humanities.”

The consortium includes Boston Latin School, Boston International Newcomers Academy, Boston Collegiate Charter School, Academy of the Pacific Rim, Boston College High School, Phillips Andover Academy, and Milton.

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