Every March, Berkeley Carroll Upper School holds a two-week-long Spring Intensives program, which provides students with a choice of interdisciplinary courses and travel programs to explore their interests beyond the scope of traditional courses. Students study one subject in great depth, emphasizing thoughtful comprehension over content coverage.
2023 Spring Intensives included: [All] For the Birds: Connecting to Nature and One Another Through Birding; Neighborhoods in Transition: Gentrification in Brooklyn; Narrative Podcast Production; Cooking 101: Nourishing Community; Finding Joy through Music and Movement; Cannibalism 101; Reclaiming Wellness; Robotics; The NYC Immigrant; NYC Chinatowns: Past, Present, & Moving Forward; The Evolution of Hip Hop; Sacred Jewelry and Relics: Discover Them, Create Them; Investigating Museums and Alternative Exhibition Spaces; and Introduction to Basketry.
Additionally, six global academic travel programs, linked to their own dedicated Spring Intensives, traveled to South Africa, the Gálapagos Islands, France, Spain, the American South and the American West.
In the Spanish program, students traveled to Granada, in southern Spain, attending classes at a language school and practicing their communication skills while living with host families. They visited important Andalusian cultural sites, including the Alhambra and La Mezquita, to better understand the Judeo-Christian and Muslim influences of the region and explored flamenco, tapas and other cultural traditions while studying the works of Federico García Lorca, a beloved poet and playwright from the region.
Students in the French program traveled to Cap d'Ail, where they were immersed in the language, culture, history, and environment of contemporary France. They focused on conversational skills and interpersonal communication with native French speakers, attending classes at a language school in the mornings and studying artists and writers who have been inspired by the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region. They also made excursions to nearby cities to view and learn about the local plants, spices, flowers, and culinary specialties.
In the Galápagos Spring Intensive, students explored the beautiful landscape and unique animals native to the region, snorkeling alongside white-tipped sharks and rays and keeping detailed records of their observations and reflections along the way. They also visited the Center of Renewable Energy to learn from local experts about how the Galápagos (and Ecuador more broadly) are leading the world in sustainable energy by relying on wind, solar, and thermal sources. At the conclusion of the trip, students engaged in a multi-party negotiation exercise to explore finding a balance between economic development and environmental conservation.
In the American South Intensive, students journeyed through landmarks of the civil rights movement and Black American culture, investigating our nation’s history of racism and engaging with each other and local community members to process their learning. Stops in Alabama included Birmingham, where students visited the 16th Street Baptist Church; Montgomery, where students connected with peers at a local school and visited the Equal Justice Initiative Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice and Selma, where they visited the site of the infamous 1965 civil rights march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
In the American West Intensive, which was a new offering this year, students trekked the canyons of Southeastern Utah, developing skills like topographic map navigation, outdoor cooking, and adapting to living in the wilderness. The program exposed them to the complexities of the Western landscape, such as land designations, conservation efforts, and the work of the Bureau of Land Management. They explored historic sites and saw the effects of human activity on the environment. Along with building physical abilities to navigate challenging terrain, students also learned about community building, leadership, and effective communication with each other.
In the “Ubuntu: Experiencing South Africa Through the Black Lens” Intensive, students traveled to Cape Town, Johannesburg, and other locations in South Africa to complement their learning in our “Jim Crow and Apartheid" or "Africa and the West" electives. This program focused on the system of Apartheid, resistance to this oppression, legacies of racial oppression, and memorials of remembrance of this history Students learned to reframe South Africa as a nation of Blackness, by highlighting the work of contemporary artists, entrepreneurs, educators, and civil rights activists from the nation. By focusing on current contributions, they engaged with the country beyond its colonial past.