Course Descriptions

Fall 2017

List of 11 items.

  • America's Atlantic: Exploring the Physical and Literary Landscape of the Oceanside

    Location: New Brunswick, Maine
    What is it about the ocean that so profoundly captivates the human imagination? Is it its dynamism, the life under its surface, or even its impossible, immeasurable size? In this Field Course we will explore a number of literary texts which use the sea as a thematic centerpiece to further explore the human condition and its relationship to the natural world. Authors include Rachel Carson, Virginia Woolf, Herman Melville, John Banville, Ernest Hemingway, as well as several local Maine authors who we will have the opportunity to meet. Additionally, students will try their hand at some creative writing using the ocean as a basis for their work.

    We will use an island in Casco Bay on Maine’s coast as our home base, camping out together while we explore the natural features of this region in which the Atlantic Ocean has such a great impact. Every morning we will wake up to lobster boats buzzing by our campsite to seek the day’s catch. In the evening, we will wade in ocean water glowing with phosphorescence (marine microorganisms that emit light). Between these times we will dive into a number of literary texts while immersing ourselves in the ocean by visiting rock and sand beaches, salt marshes, and local fishing towns and cities.

  • Art History and Theatre in New York City

    Location: New York, NY

    Get ready to experience some of the amazing cultural and art venues in the greatest city in the world: New York City! We’ll leave on the early bus on Monday morning and arrive in NYC in the early afternoon. That’s just the beginning of five days of food, art and theater in the cultural capital of the world. We will be staying at an apartment in NYC, in a prime location for accessing the most culturally stimulating venues. Each day we will hop on the subway and hop off at the doorstep of intellectual adventure. By day we will explore beautiful, influential art while we tour galleries at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Cloisters, the Museum of Modern Art, and in the art gallery district in Chelsea. By night we’ll experience two Broadway productions and authentic New York City cuisine. This is a phenomenal opportunity for students to learn about theater or art formally and further their experience and understanding of these fields.

    Our downtime will be spent journaling, critiquing and discussing our experiences, examining how theater and art both reflect society and impact it, and exploring the city. Students will read short and informative articles and will be expected to complete a Field Course journal in which they record what they’ve learned, seen and heard, and how they have expanded their creative horizons. Our hope is for students to further their understanding of how humans have expressed themselves through the arts throughout history. There is an additional cost of $550 per student for this Field Course.

  • Beyond the Wall: An Inside Look at the Criminal Justice System

    Location: Concord and North Country, NH
    From the book The New Jim Crow to recent bipartisan conversations about reducing minimum sentencing, increasing mental health support, and proactive rather than reactive policies to the Black Lives Matter movement, questions about the fairness and equity of our criminal justice system have risen to the top of the national conversation. According to a report by the Prison Policy initiative, it was reported that 57% of persons incarcerated in the U.S. have been convicted of violating state law, while another 30% are in local jails awaiting trial for violating local and state laws. Only 10% of the prison population are incarcerated for violating federal laws. Beyond that, the prison population is skewed in gender (Male 80%, Female 20%). With regard to ethnicity in the prison population, there are glaring disparities.

    We will take an in-depth look at the Criminal Justice system by visiting our local courts, speaking with law enforcement officials and visiting local prisons. We will examine the economic relationship between the judicial system and the prison industrial complex, the ways in which the judicial system deals with mental health, and the racial inequities of the prison population. Participants will learn about the inner workings of the justice system, reflect on its complexity and challenge themselves to work as agents for change. This course will be based in New Hampshire and focused on our state systems.

  • Developing Leadership Through Expeditionary Backpacking

    Location: Gorham, NH/Maine border

    The Mahoosuc Mountain Range on the Appalachian Trail will be our classroom as we explore leadership and expedition planning. As we walk from New Hampshire to Maine, we will learn backcountry and leadership skills, and strategies relevant to many situations. We will focus on a peer leadership model, understanding individual leadership styles, building a cohesive group, being effective communicators, setting goals, and planning and executing safe group activities and expeditions. This Field Course will provide the opportunity for students to push themselves physically while exploring one of the most scenic parts of the eastern United States.

    Upon completing this course students will be well-positioned to take on leaderships roles within the WMS community as proctors, crew supervisors, club leaders, and team captains, as well as Field Course assistants and leaders. In the pre-trip class we will introduce the peer leadership model and while on the trail, students will have the opportunity to put their skills into action. Students will also play an active role in planning and preparing for this course. Our days will be spent hiking a section of the Appalachian Trail, honing the craft of general and expedition leadership. This is a true backcountry trip, and we will be staying in lean-to shelters. Students do not need prior backpacking experience. Participants, however, need to be prepared for a physically challenging endeavor.
  • Geology and Glaciology: Their Effects on the Ecology of Acadia

    Location: Bar Harbor, ME

    Mount Desert Island, home of Acadia National Park, is the definition of a contrasting natural environment. From the ocean off Schoodic Point to the top of Cadillac Mountain, a traveler can traverse a landscape that started forming 500 million years ago. This landscape, which began as volcanic ash, sand and silt, was carved by successive glacials during the Pleistocene epoch. It is now home to one of the most diverse ecological communities one can find outside of a rainforest.

    During our week on this eastern seaboard gem, students will gain an appreciation for the rocks under their feet, the forces that shaped them, and the flora and fauna that now cover them. At Otter Cliff students’ perspective of the area's geology will be up-close and personal as they rock climb cliffs rising from the sea. Atop Cadillac Mountain we will be among the first people in the United States to witness the day’s sunrise while exploring the fragile ecosystem near the summit. The number of stunning natural areas are endless, and we’ll do our best to explore many of them. Nights will be spent camping next to the ocean at Blackwoods Campground located in Acadia National Park. This trip is open to anyone with a sense of adventure and interest in gaining a deeper appreciation of their natural environment.

  • Inspired: Art and Art Making in the Berkshires

    Location: Western Massachusetts

    Have you ever considered immersing yourself in the world of art? Join “Inspired: Art and Art Making in the Berkshires” and visit creative and cultural hotspots in western Massachusetts. We’ll spend a day at the world-renowned Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MassMOCA), meet with community art leaders and program directors in Northampton, MA, build our own public art projects, and reflect through daily art journaling and discussion. As part of the journaling exercises students can expect to develop their drawing skills, learn new ways to respond to what they see around them and experiment with a variety of art media.

    We’ll also create art related to our mountain-top setting in the Berkshires. Drawing inspiration from nature is something artists have done throughout history, and we’ll participate in that tradition by immersing ourselves in the outdoors and allowing it to infiltrate our creative work. Students will need to be open to exploring many different types of visual art and committed to learning the creative and beautiful process of art journaling. We will be staying in one of the AMC’s Noble View cabins in western Massachusetts.

  • The Land of Fire and Ice: The Geography and Geology of Iceland

    Location: Reykjavik, Iceland

    As a small country of 320,000 people, Iceland is a place where glaciers meet the sea and active volcanoes redesign the modern landscape. Black sand beaches, lush green coastlines, painted highlands of red, yellow and black, bright blue hot springs, waterfalls, and geysers are all evidence of how geologically active the Icelandic landscape is. Situated on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge tectonic plate boundary, where the North American and Eurasian plates are drifting apart, Iceland is the perfect classroom to study both geology and its relationship to the rich cultural identity of the island and its people.

    On this Field Course we will study the relationships among geologic history, pertinent geomorphic processes, geothermal energy, regional weather and climate, and human activities as they relate to this unique place. We will seek to cultivate an active understanding of the importance of landscape and place in human life. Consistently ranked as the safest country in the world, Iceland attributes this to its focus on civil rights, equality for its people and education. Our course will engage with both the culture and the landscape that define its inhabitants. Days will be filled with exploring the capital city of Reykjavik, meeting with local experts, hiking trails in National Parks and exploring glaciers. Each night we will return to our hostel or guesthouse. There is an additional cost of $1,200 plus airfare (estimated cost: $800-$900) per student for this Field Course.

  • Linking Local and Global Sustainability

    Location: Colebrook, NH
    Sustainable development can be thought of as meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same. On this Field Course we will be looking at the environmental, social and economic sides of sustainability. We will be asking some big questions such as: How can we live comfortably while at the same time ensuring that the lives of our global neighbors are not impacted by adverse social, economic or environmental conditions? How can we make choices in our daily lives to help minimize our ecological footprint? And how can we act both locally and globally to make sure that we are not compromising the wellbeing of future generations?

    This course will be centered at Cite Ecologique, an Ecovillage in Colebrook, NH, that offers an organic farm, a renewable energy company, a global goods distribution business, their own school, and a recycling enterprise, among other things. Students will have the opportunity to participate in each of these aspects of the community and learn about the overarching philosophy of the global Ecovillage movement. This Field Course will offer students the chance to examine, challenge, and expand some of their own ideas about being global citizens, as well as the opportunity to see how one community is living out their shared vision of sustainability.

  • Nutrition Put Into Practice: Nutritious Living and Food Justice

    Location: Providence, RI

    According to the documentary In Defense of Food , “We make over 200 decisions about food a day.” Each of these decisions is an opportunity to fuel one's body for success, but not everyone has access to nutrient-rich foods. During this Field Course we will explore current research on nutrition alongside a study of food justice, specifically access to healthy and nutritious ingredients. We will also reflect on what factors impact our daily decisions surrounding food and develop strategies to make more nutritionally balanced decisions. We will achieve this through a variety of activities including speaking with nutritionists, interviewing farmers, exploring the farm to plate movement, mapping food deserts and preparing our own meals on a variety of budgets. Through journaling and reflection activities we will consider factors such as cost, taste and accessibility.

    During the week we will be staying in Providence, Rhode Island and traveling to nearby farms, soup kitchens and grocery stores. We will volunteer on a farm to learn more about food production and speak with personnel in charge of ordering and preparing food for large communities. We will visit a local farmer's market and interview a variety of farmers as well as conduct a grocery store inventory in various parts of the city. In small groups we will shop on a budget while also striving to meet nutritional standards and then prepare the meals. At the end of the course we will have an understanding of how to best fuel our bodies, how nutrition impacts us and how to eat the best we can with what we have. This will culminate in us creating a nutrition philosophy.

  • Poverty, Homelessness and Hunger: Meeting People‚Äôs Basic Needs

    Location: Portland, Maine

    In a country that wastes billions of pounds of food each year, it's almost shocking that anyone in America goes hungry. Yet every day there are millions of children and adults who do not get the meals they need to thrive. According to the organization Feeding America, 46.5 million people in the United States come from households that are food insecure which means that these people do not have access to adequate food to live an active and healthy lifestyle. In addition, millions of people in the United States are struggling to get by because of underemployment, stagnant wages and the rising costs of living.

    This Field Course will explore the causes and consequences of poverty in the United States through community service work in Portland, Maine. We will extend our study from the theoretical to the practical as we work with Good Shepherd Food Bank, sorting and packing much-needed groceries for children, families and the elderly. We’ll also work with Preble Street Resource Center’s soup kitchen volunteering our time and energy with the people who need it the most. In addition to interacting with the recipients of these services, we will examine these topics through readings, documentaries and discussions. We will be shopping for our meals in small groups, similar to a small family, on a limited budget at local grocery stores while sleeping and preparing our meals in a church in Portland. You must be 16 to sign up for this course.

  • Water Rights in the West: How the Colorado River is Being Squeezed Dry

    Location: Grand Canyon, AZ

    The mighty Colorado River stretches 1,450 miles and is one of the principal watersheds in the western United States. It begins as a trickle in the Rocky Mountains and grows into a massive river that flows through seven U.S. and two Mexican states. The river's history is as wild as its whitewater rapids, supplying water to more than 25 million people and responsible for irrigating 3.5 million acres of farmland. Interestingly, this grand river no longer reaches the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, as it once did, due to a number of competing forces that utilize this water for life and profit including irrigation, hydroelectric power production and domestic water supply. The Colorado River is now one of the most highly controlled and controversial rivers in the world.

    In this course we will study the complicated water rights of this majestic river. Once a wild and untamed icon of the American West, it is now a river stretched beyond its max with fifteen major dams and hundreds more on its tributaries. Through the medium of a backcountry river trip in the lower Grand Canyon, we will speak with experts on how water is used in the desert southwest, meet with different constituent groups, and analyze water rights to gain a better understanding of this complicated, and to some, controversial issue. We will spend our first day based at Prescott College, meeting with water rights experts and activists. The following day we will begin our trek on the Colorado River at Diamond Creek and spend the next four days paddling on and exploring the last section of the Grand Canyon before stopping at Pierce Ferry. There is an additional cost of $750 plus airfare (estimated cost: $500-$600) per student for this Field Course.

Spring 2017

List of 11 items.

  • Avalanche Science and Safety: Exploring the Mountains of Idaho

    Location: Sun Valley, Idaho

    The Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho are the perfect setting to dive into the science of snow. By traveling through avalanche terrain and living in the mountains, we will begin to understand why snow moves, what factors contribute to high or low avalanche danger and what to do in the case of an emergency. Students will learn how terrain, weather, snowpack and human impact all contribute to overall avalanche hazards. The keystone of this course will be learning how their decisions affect the outcome of every adventure into wintry, mountainous environments.

    We will spend our days exploring and studying the terrain surrounding Sun Valley Trekking’s Coyote yurts, a remote set of yurts nestled within the Smoky Mountains of the Sawtooth National Forest. We will collect data and observations of how the snow is changing throughout our course and every evening we will share that data with each other and talk about the theories and science behind what we are seeing. Students will record this information in their Field Course journals and look back on the changes that the snow went through over our time spent in the Mountains. We will also use our avalanche rescue gear by participating in many practice rescue scenarios to hone our skills in using avalanche transceivers, probes, and shovels. With our Sun Valley Trekking Guide, we will experience this awe-inspiring locale, and hopefully find some good, fun snow to slide through. There will be an additional fee per stuent for this course.

  • The Future of Journalism: A Multimedia Exploration

    Location: New Hampshire and Vermont

    The field of journalism is a frontier of its own. It has evolved significantly over the last twenty years as new forms of media have challenged the more traditional news sources. This Field Course will compare the approaches of TV, newspaper, radio, electronic and photography journalists in today’s news landscape. We will examine how a fast-paced twenty-first century digital climate, where all forms of media are transmitted via countless outlets to countless audiences, affects how journalists present their stories. We will watch a live TV newscast in Burlington, VT; experience the pressroom at the Valley News out of West Lebanon, NH; visit New Hampshire Public Radio in Concord, NH; tour both the news and press room of The Concord Monitor; meet students from the Lyndon State College Electronic Journalism Arts Program; as well as have a skype session with a wildlife photojournalist for National Geographic.

    Students will create their own news stories in their preferred medium, be exposed to different types of social and broadcast media and learn about reporting, graphic design, and advertising through interviews and a hands-on approach. We will be traveling around New England to engage with the best sources of media that are offered.Through articles, films, and discussions, students will gain a newfound understanding of journalism in the modern world.

  • Learning the Ropes: Understanding Your Leadership Style

    Location: The Browne Center, University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire

    Leadership, teamwork, communication, risk and conflict all play important roles in our lives. On this Field Course, we will have the opportunity to work together to learn about ways of dealing with these challenges and responsibilities as well as to explore our own personal leadership style. We will learn through hands-on experience on the high and low ropes course at the University of New Hampshire’s Browne Center. We will be spending full days outside engaging in fun and exciting activities and initiatives. These challenges are designed to improve our understanding of ourselves and each other, bring awareness to our communication, dabble with safe risk-taking and just plain have fun.

    Upon completing this course, students will be well-positioned to take on leadership roles within the White Mountain community as proctors, crew supervisors, club leaders, and team captains, as well as Field Course assistants and leaders. A positive attitude, an open mind and a willingness to try new things and push yourself out of your comfort zone on high and low ropes course elements is necessary. We will work collaboratively to build our leadership skills, solve problems and challenge ourselves. In addition to our time spent with The Browne Center during the day we will spend time examining our own leadership styles and putting into practice some of the things we are learning. We will be living in a yurt on The Browne Center campus and offering our service around the facility during our stay.

  • Everyday Feminism: An Examination of Gender, Power and Sexuality

    Location: Amherst, Massachusetts

    This course will engage students in thought-provoking and relevant discussions and activities as we consider the ways in which feminism exists in our lives, school environment and our broader culture. Areas of focus will include gender, power (both personal and institutional) and sexuality. This course is designed for students who feel ready to consider and question their own assumptions and beliefs as they relate to these topics.

    Students will take part in a variety of activities and experiences aimed at introducing and broadening our understanding of feminism. A general overview of feminism will provide foundational knowledge, terms and concepts to frame the week's activities. We will interview local faculty and college/graduate students in the Five College Region around Amherst, MA, to ground ourselves in academic conversations around the issues. We will engage in individual and small group reflection to consider our own personal perspective. Experiential simulations and activities will serve as a means for exploring topics from many sides, and we will also investigate the current culture around feminism by reviewing articles, videos, televisions clips and social media. We will be staying in cabins, centrally located in the Five College Region of western Massachusetts.

  • Dominican Republic: Exploring Culture and Social Justice in a Developing Caribbean Nation

    Location: Dominican Republic

    The March Community Service Field Course to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic is designed to offer students the opportunity to complete community development projects in the community of La Sabana Perdida. This course examines issues of culture, poverty, social development and social justice in the Dominican Republic through direct service learning work and preparatory and reflective class sessions and discussions. Students will have the opportunity to examine development issues that have plagued the island nation for years and current efforts to address these concerns.

    The service learning component includes working on a designated construction project and in a local elementary school. In addition, students will spend time with community leaders to learn about social and historical issues, and engage in a variety of cross-cultural activities with community members. The trip also includes a visit to local Haitian immigrant communities (a batey), a tour of local schools and orphanages, an evening visiting and touring the Zona Colonial of Santo Domingo, and exploring the small Caribbean country. Not only will students contribute significantly to the local Dominican community in which we will be staying, through genuine service work, but they will also gain first-hand experience in important development issues through talks with local leaders, community members and our Dominican friends. They will learn about Dominican history and culture and hopefully pick up some skills in dancing the merengue and bachata, and learn some Spanish along the way! This course will require students to participate in pre-course meetings beyond the traditional time commitment. There will be an additional fee per student for this course.

  • Community Matters: Understanding Culture in the North Country

    Location: New Hampshire

    At The White Mountain School, we frequently discuss the idea of community and how we can come to better understand each other and ourselves. Recent research reveals that people feel less connected to their local communities in economic, cultural, political and historical ways. The goal of this Field Course is to deepen our understanding of our local community, the North Country of New Hampshire, by engaging with its residents and community. 

    In this Field Course we will study the history, economy, political organizations and cultural institutions of the North Country. Students will come away from this course with knowledge of how people live and exist in a particular region, and an understanding that all of us are inextricably linked to our local societies. With this experience, students will be able to go back to their own local communities with a clear vision of how they can begin to rebuild local community connections that are so vital to the well-being of our country and its institutions.

  • Green Living in the Urban World: Sustainability and Service in Montreal

    Location: Montreal, Canada

    Living in a city and living a sustainable lifestyle may sound like an impossibility, but large metropolitan areas around the world are working to confront environmental problems that have resulted from rapid urbanization. This course is designed to give students a hands-on opportunity to learn about the ways people can reduce their environmental impact while living in a city. It will also push students to use what they learn to design an environmentally conscious dream city. We will be working with Eco-Quartier, “an organization of community action, initiative, awareness and environmental accountability” in Montreal, Quebec. The city of Montreal created this organization to encourage its residents to reduce their environmental impact.

    We will explore a few neighborhoods to examine the ways Montreal combats environmental problems in today’s world. We will visit the Biosphere, an interactive eco-museum focused on educating the public on ways to build awareness of major environmental issues. A visit to the TOHU’s sorting center, a complex created to highlight Montreal’s circus arts scene and the base of Cirque de Soleil, will help facilitate our environmental citizenship. We will stay at Auberge Alternative, an arts-oriented hostel. Travel identification is required for this course. There will be an additional fee of $65 for required international travel insurance.

  • Independent Student Research Project

    Location: Portland, Maine

    The Independent Student Project is a Field Course designed to allow students to study, in depth, a topic of their choosing. With a goal of creating something that adds value to the world, students will be able to follow their interests and passions. Centered in the picturesque city of Portland, Maine, students will have the flexibility to ask their own “big” questions and then design a detailed course of study, both academic and experiential, to answer those questions. With faculty assistance, students on this course will brainstorm, plan, set up and carry out their complete curriculum. All participants will create a culminating project and give a group presentation highlighting their work.

    Portland will allow for a tremendous variety of possible courses of study. Individually or in small groups, students have the opportunity to pursue their interests and passions. Previous projects have ranged from creating a series of watercolor paintings to exploring the music and art scenes of Portland to researching the different ways people train for rock climbing. There will be an advanced sign-up process for this course to best meet the needs of the independent projects as well as to begin the necessary logistics for each student idea. Students will be expected to conduct initial research about locations and resources in Portland, and to work with the leaders in advance planning of their project.

  • The Physics of Climbing

    Location: North Conway, New Hampshire
    The sport and art of climbing depends on the science of physics. Physics provides the basic rules that govern how our bodies move, how climbing gear behaves under different conditions, how objects fall, and how things move and respond to different combinations of forces. Having a working understanding of some of the physical principles that underlie the sport can help one become a safer, more creative climber, and provide the basis for improving one’s skill set in the sport. Through hands-on experimentation and problem-solving, students will explore the physical concepts of friction, vectors, mechanical advantage, gravity, force, angles, work, energy and power and how they are related to different aspects of climbing.

    By examining climbing through a scientific lens, we will also take a more critical look into the sport itself. With the aid of modern climbing equipment, we will conduct experiments and construct climbing scenarios. We will also meet with physicist rock climbers who have dedicated their lives to both passions. A visit to the Sterling Rope Company will allow students an inside look at the processes of rope manufacturing and what engineers consider when designing and testing this most important piece of climbing equipment. At Sterling, we will work directly with the Research and Design team to test new and old equipment for tensile strength, elongation and dynamic properties. With our newly acquired knowledge, we will approach the ice cliffs and indoor walls with an informed perspective and a new respect for the invisible forces that govern this sport.
  • Buddhism: The Study and Practice

    Location: Woodstock, New York

    On this Field Course we will travel to Woodstock, New York, to the Karma Triyana Dharmachakra monastery, where we will spend several days learning the basics of Buddhist philosophy and Tibetan history through the experience of living and participating in the life and work of a Buddhist community. We will be learning about and sharing in their practices of mindfulness, Shinay meditation, Sadhana chanting and cultivating the basic Buddhist precepts of compassion and loving-kindness in order to develop a deeper sense of how spiritual life is manifested through these daily rituals. We will be assisting when and where necessary with community tasks and sharing meals. While most of the trip will be spent at the monastery, some time will be given over to hiking as well as an afternoon in the town of Woodstock.

    Because this is a religion-focused trip, it will present some unique challenges. We will rise early each day and spend much of our time in meditation. All of our meals will be vegetarian meals and they will be prepared for us. There will be presentations, workshops and discussions. We will need to be open to an unfamiliar religious tradition, and work together harmoniously as we live in close quarters and follow the rules of the monastery. The trip is meant to be an introduction for those who are genuinely curious about the Buddhist religion and Tibetan culture, but is not designed to convert anyone. There will be an additional cost of $265.00 per student for food, lodging and workshops at the monastery.

  • Winter Photography in the White Mountains

    Location: New Hampshire

    This course will explore the art of photography and the beauty of the White Mountains. Throughout our travels we will be exploring nature photography, learning about a variety of camera settings, and how they affect photographs, while exploring the mountains and backcountry trails of the White Mountains. We will apply our learned skills to the field as we work daily to capture the majesty of winter in the mountains through photography. Along the way we will meet with professional photographers, visit the Bradford Washburn Museum in Crawford Notch and other galleries, and spend time studying a variety of different photographers.

    This course is based in the Mount Washington Valley region of New Hampshire, providing easy access to many picturesque locations. Our lodging will also give opportunities to work on photography editing skills in the evening and to research photographs and photographers of interest. At the end of the course, students will select their best photographs from selected assignments to build a portfolio. In addition, everyone will choose their favorite photographs to be printed, framed, and hung in a gallery at school along with an artist biography, for the viewing pleasure of the community. If a student does not own a digital camera capable of fully manual settings then there will be an additional fee of $50 to rent a camera for the week.


371 West Farm Road  •  Bethlehem, New Hampshire 03574  •  603.444.2928
Founded in 1886 and set in the beautiful White Mountains of northern New Hampshire,
The White Mountain School is a coeducational college-preparatory boarding and day
school for students grades 9-12/PG.