Lawrenceville’s newly established Leopold Society is two-year summer immersion program for students who care about environmental studies and sustainability. It allows them to dive deeply into their passion through learning, living, and leading.
The first Leopold Society Summer Immersion Program, held on campus June 4-17, assembled a pioneering and adventurous group of rising Fourth and Fifth Formers who understood from the start that they would be shaping and helping to design the Society’s future. Members from the Class of 2019 were Serena Chen, Karina Leung, Kate Liu, Christian Luu, Quinn Waldron, Yigit Yoruk, and Jonathan Yue. Ted Atwood, Eve Brewer, Elle Cooper, Molly Fitzgerald, and Hiroki Nagao represented the Class of 2018.
Students studied a variety of subjects with Chair of the Religion and Philosophy Department Thomas Collins, Jr., such as the life and legacy of Aldo Leopold, L’1905, and his development of environmental ethics. The students studied two books (along with additional readings) - “Aldo Leopold's Odyssey” by Julianne Lutz Newton and “Natural Prayers” by Chet Raymo. To supplement their readings, students analyzed environmental films and art including the BBC television series “Planet Earth” and “Planet Earth II,” narrated by David Attenborough. The group also utilized the resources of the School’s Bunn Library to perform individual research on a topic of their choosing.
“Without the Leopold Society program, I would have never realized all of the things Lawrenceville has to offer. The extensive Harkness discussions we had every day about our readings and our afternoon excursions provided a forum for us to have eye-opening conversations,” said Luu. “One word that fully summarizes the Leopold Society experience would be ‘interconnectedness’ - the realization that everything is in one way, either directly or indirectly, connected to one another.”
Additionally, Lawrentians explored the School’s 750 acres and beyond, completing a 17-mile, round trip hike to the Stony Brook – Millstone Watershed in Hopewell from campus.
“I think one of my most memorable parts of the Leopold Program was the moment we arrived at the Watershed.” said Chen. “Not only was it comforting to know that we had made it to our destination, but it was also amazing to experience the beauty of the Watershed. It was very interesting to understand the design of the LEED platinum-certified main building, and the area was teeming with plants and wildlife.”
Students met with both on- and off-campus experts. They spoke with Princeton’s Forrest Meggers (jointly appointed as Assistant Professor in both the University’s School of Architecture and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment), whose research includes building systems design and integration, sustainable systems, renewable energy, and the optimization of energy systems. Back on campus, members of the School’s Buildings and Grounds staff shared their expertise with the group, leading tours and explaining how systems of heating, electricity, and water are managed throughout campus.
“My most memorable experience was being able to talk with the people at Buildings and Grounds and learning about how our campus works. This in coordination with the conversations we had with Dr. Meggers allowed me to better understand the practical applications and implications of new, more environmentally friendly technology,” said Fitzgerald.
Students also worked at Lawrenceville’s Big Red Farm to understand food production and each chose a personal location on campus as a means to connect with surroundings and keeping “place” books (journals).
After two weeks, the students departed with a profound new sense of where they live, learn, and play. The group started to consider how they interact with the land, the biotic community, and with neighbors and friends. Additionally, each member emerged with ten new friends and thought-leaders in considering how to live well in this beautiful place.
“I think that the best part of this program, for me, was the people. Finding a group of people with a similar love for the environment and who want to make a change was very exciting for me,” said Brewer. ”The conversations that we had both around the Harkness table and walking through the woods opened my mind to new perspectives on the ways that we can look at and care for the earth.”
All of the “Leopolds” are excited to discuss potential legacy projects, expeditions, and collaborations for the summer of 2018, which will be an opportunity to pursue and lead a sustainability project of the student’s choice and a collective off-campus trip to truly experience and appreciate the environment.
For additional information on all Lawrenceville School news, please contact Lisa M. Gillard Hanson, director of Public Relations, at firstname.lastname@example.org.