Students Explore Complex Ideas for a Best-Imagined Future

The “Yearlong Theme” at Albuquerque Academy, launched in 2000, incorporates a broad and far-reaching global issue into classroom activities, and is the basis for a series of annual school-wide events and projects. The American Civil Rights Movement, Human Migration, and Localism are some past examples.

This year’s theme, “Albuquerque in the World,” is surprising students with the beauty and diversity of their city’s peoples and environment, challenging them to think deeply about old and new problems from many different points of view and explore best-imagined futures for the community.

Through lectures and workshops, art projects, and community events, students are exploring complex ideas and world-changing situations — issues of income inequality, racism, urban sprawl, environmental degradation, and development. Students also look to other cultures and communities for ideas and solutions. Using Ferguson, Missouri, as a backdrop, they examined the risks and consequences of criminal fines. Recent speakers have included poet Hakim Bellamy, criminal justice and inequality expert Karin Martin, and Comanche activist LaDonna Harris.

“When LaDonna Harris spoke of community and truth, my world tilted,” says senior Cameren Kristensen. “All my life I had always thought, without even realizing it, that there must be an ‘us’ and a ‘them.’ But in her world, that doesn’t exist. And that’s amazing. Someone can be right without anyone being wrong. Everyone can be an ‘us’ without a single ‘them.’”

English teacher and program coordinator Stuart Lipkowitz says students are developing “the knowledge and leadership skills they’ll need to fulfill the school’s mission of effecting change in the world, serving their country and community with wisdom, conviction, and compassion.”

Does your school do something similar?

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