Humans in the Natural World

Students collaborate with each other, make connections, and synthesize information about their world from historical, scientific, artistic, and literary sources.

Ninth grade students are required to take Humans in the Natural World, which integrates English, Social Science, and Natural Science. 

Using the tools of these three disciplines, this year-long course begins by asking students “How Do We Know What We Know?” Starting with things we can observe locally, we expand to connect to the global community. Students are expected to collaborate with each other, make connections, and synthesize information about their world from historical, scientific, artistic, and literary sources. Each student undertakes several long-term projects, including detailed studies of a plot of land, a country, and a commodity. Students read novels, poetry, and both primary and secondary sources in all three disciplines. Ultimately, our 9th graders will hone their skills in analytical and creative writing, oral presentation, collaboration, research and analysis.Mathematical thinking is an integral part of our study. Students also learn the habits of reflection, self-evaluation, perseverance, and practice.

Throughout this class, students demonstrate their skills and understanding through presentations, experiments, Wiki creation, writing, and teaching. After completion of this three-credit, integrated course, Putney students will be expected to accurately sketch the world around them, critically observe and analyze their environment, collect and use GIS (Geographic Information Systems) data, write in both analytical and imaginative forms, synthesize scientific and historical facts into meaning, and be fearless enough to embrace uncertainty, ambiguity, and the benefits of failure.

Students will earn credits in science (0.5 biology and 0.5 earth science), history/social science (1.0), and English (1.0). In addition, they will learn to use some basic tools and vocabulary of economics, GIS, data analysis, political science, and the rudiments of epistemology. 

Humans in the Natural World: An Integrated Curriculum

Humans in the Natural World is a year-long, three-credit course for all 9th Graders at The Putney School, integrating English, Science, and History.

Student Spotlight On: Climate Summit

Last year, Humans in the Natural World students spent their third trimester focusing on globalization, climate change, and activism. Students dove deeper into many of the human geography concepts from the winter trimester by each becoming experts on a particular countries. Students explored population and demographic data, climate and geography, history, trade, politics, economics, religion, and culture, and tried to make connections between some of this information and where the country they were studying — and its people — stand in the global community.

During the country studies, students participated in regional reading groups, expanding their adaptability as readers as they learned to explore foreign contexts with depth and understanding.

They also conducted an in-depth study of climate change, both science and policy, as they prepared to represent their country at a global climate summit. During this meeting, students not only represented their country, but a particular lens (politician, NGO, or corporation) as they worked to draft a global treaty that addressed international concerns about climate change. Through this process, students got a true sense of how hard it is to collaborate on global issues in a world where people have a variety of lenses and goals.