City Semester at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School

In City Semester: The Bronx Experience, 15-20 high school sophomores juniors and seniors explore New York City through the lens of the Bronx. We have “traditional” classes in ecology, English, history, foreign language, math, ethics and arts, that connect to each other through our fieldwork- twice a week we leave campus for fieldwork in the city, with our service learning and advocacy work centered on the Bronx

We organize the in-school scholarship around four thematic units: Diversity and Difference; Sustainability and Environmental Justice; Power and Conflict; Neighborhood and Community. Each unit centers on a one or two day field exploration: The Food and Culture of Spanish Harlem; Music and Migration in Black Harlem; Sustainability and Equity in the Hunts Point Market; Debating the Legacy of Robert Moses and the Cross Bronx Expressway; A Two Day Canoe Trek through the Communities of the Bronx River.

The goal is to connect disciplines to each other and to connect in school scholarship with the city and the world. No one walks down the street choosing to be a scientist for 45 minutes, then a historian for the next 45. We find that interdisciplinary study tracks the way we move through the world and solve problems in our everyday lives. Rooting the interdisciplinary work in experiential activities also makes the information and analysis more “sticky”- the students internalize what they learn without the need for rote learning or written tests.

So you will find us studying the effects of 1970s the fiscal crisis by doing water quality tests in the Bronx River, or interviewing residents of affordable housing along the River’s banks. Or arguing the merits of Mayor de Blasio’s housing program during an exploration of the Hudson Yards project. Or unpacking the famous “$24 Purchase” while debating the understanding of property at the “Treaty Rock” where Peter Minuit “bought” Manhattan Island from the Lenape in what is now Inwood Park. For more, visit us at

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