The intersection of the environment and social justice is the heart of Common Ground’s curriculum.
Our students and teachers use three sites as laboratories for learning:
- The City of New Haven: its parks, people, and many educational resources.
- West Rock State Park: Connecticut’s largest state park, where the school is located.
- Common Ground’s 20-Acre Campus: an environmental learning center and demonstration farm at the city’s edge.
In the Curriculum
Through challenging interdisciplinary block classes and core academic classes, student learn about important environmental issues, both global and local. Courses like Environmental Justice, Biodiversity, Ecologia, and Food & The Environment focus squarely on the ecological challenges facing our community and our planet – while also developing the essential skills and understandings students need to succeed in college. Truly unique courses – like Environmental Ventures, where students start and run small businesses using products from the farm – help students apply their passions to environmental challenges. Beyond the core environmental curriculum, every class on campus – from AP U.S. Government to Pre-Calculus– takes on key environmental themes
Our Environmental Honors Program offers students additional academic challenges Environmental Honors students take on rigorous environmental courses and take on a significant capstone research and action project. To honor their achievements, these students earn college scholarships, receive recognition on their high school transcripts, and have access to additional learning and leadership opportunities.
Across all aspects of the school, we aim to develop a new generation of powerful environmental leaders. Each of our courses incorporates a set of environmental leadership standards that work alongside academic standards to guide teaching and learning. These environmental leadership standards align with our school motto, POWER: Pride, Ownership, Wonder, Effort, and Respect. Twice each year, we measure students’ progress toward these standards, just as we measure their academic progress.
Beyond the School Day
Experiences outside the school building extend academic learning. Our students complete senior projects focused on social justice and environmental topics. They participate in a year-long Green Jobs Corps, taking on paid internships at local environmental organizations and participating in a year-long leadership and career development program. They compete in the state-wide Envirothon competition and participate in an after-school environmental leadership club. They teach younger students about important environmental issues through after-school, summer, and school day programs.