What are Critical Issues?
The Field Academy student expeditions study issues that are immediately and urgently relevant in our contemporary world and that tangibly illustrate questions of enduring significance.
Through our summer programs, students immerse themselves in particular regions and issues: exploring the matter of water scarcity in the Southwest, considering differing definitions of community as they travel through New England, and investigating the reality of coal mining in Central Appalachia.
We open each expedition with one essential question, such as “What is survival?”, “How do you define progress?”, or “What is home?” Students use this question as a guide throughout the expedition to dig deep into a particular issue and region within the United States and to analyze and hone their own identities and convictions.
Why do we study Critical Issues?
We believe that students learn best when they are studying something real, when academics directly engage things that are happening in their lives. When this happens, students must contextualize themselves as actors within what they are studying; they learn to take accountability for the things they know and the experiences they have had. Studying critical issues at the Field Academy inspires students to know and learn more about the world around them and to determine how they want to employ their knowledge and skills in that world.
Our students are part of a generation that is inheriting a rapidly changing social, political, environmental, and economic landscape. Our curriculum helps prepare them to navigate this landscape: living and traveling within a diverse educational community provides them the opportunity to practice skills necessary for being critical and creative problem-solvers who are able to relate to people of different backgrounds and translate their own ideas into action; studying critical issues allows them to develop a grounded, nuanced, and experiential understanding of national and global challenges.