New Energy Inquiry: AP Environmental Science Collaborate on Energy Discussions

On Tuesday, February 27th in Wadsworth, Harvard Business School professor Forest Reinhardt ran a case study on the difficulties faced by a Chilean energy company. On Friday later that week, Robert de Mars, a Belmont Hill alum from the class of 1986, talked about his work for the desalination company Suez Water, a job that has taken him around the globe from Trinidad and Tobago to the United Arab Emirates. The following Monday, State Senator Will Brownsberger spoke about the challenges meeting renewable energy in Massachusetts, as well as the recent setbacks to the Northern Pass Project, a power line that would carry low carbon electricity from hydropower plants in Quebec through New Hampshire to Massachusetts. This diverse set of visitors has one thing in common: they are part of a push to bring energy and environmental issues into the spotlight at Belmont Hill.

Every spring, seniors must take an inquiry course, and subjects range from “God, Man, and Myth” taught by Mr. Leo, to “Advanced Historical Research with Ms. Zener. This year a new class has been added: “Energy Policy and Climate Change” with Dr. Buckley. This class replaces “Politics in Practice,” an inquiry where boys would go to a political internship (it was basically ASR but for politics) one day a week, and during class time would discuss topical political issues. The boys in this class each still have an internship (one in the Governor’s office, one with a State Representative and another on US Senate campaign), but classes are now devoted entirely to learning about climate change and the global energy landscape.  Reading for the course includes Windfall, a book by Harvard professor Meghan O’Sullivan about oil’s influence on geopolitics, and A Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet, by former Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg and former Sierra Club director Carl Pope.

Perhaps the most interesting development that is in part a result of this new course is the partnership with the AP Environmental Science class, taught by Dr. Davis in the first semester and now led by Mr. McAlpin. Mr. McAlpin and Dr. Buckley have jointly worked to bring to campus an amazing set of highly influential speakers in the world of energy and climate change. It’s a fantastic opportunity for students to get involved in this quickly changing sphere that will impact all of our lives.

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