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Academics & Arts

Environmental Justice Semester

Now accepting applications for a change-making experience in Spring 2025
April Virtual Info Session
Tuesday, April 30, 2024
7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

We Want YOU!

Are you a NE Ohio high school student who wants to make a positive impact on society and the environment?

The Environmental Justice Semester (EJS) at Laurel School is a semester-long, academic program open to 10th and 11th Grade girls from any public, private, parochial, or charter school in Northeast Ohio.

List of 3 news stories.

Our Unique Campus

The learner-centered Semester takes place on Laurel’s 150-acre Butler Campus in Novelty, Ohio, which offers a natural space with terrestrial, aquatic, and agricultural ecosystems for student changemakers to devise solutions for the ecological and social challenges facing urban Cleveland, a rustbelt city grappling with many environmental and social justice issues.

Scholarships and Variable Tuition

Changemaker Scholarships cover up to 50% of the cost of attending the semester!
As part of Laurel's longtime commitment to socioeconomic diversity, Changemaker Scholarships and Variable Tuition are available to students joining us from neighboring private, public, or faith-based schools for Spring 2025.
  • All candidates applying for the EJ Semester are automatically considered for a Changemaker Scholarship by virtue of an application to the program.
  • Changemaker Scholarships are merit-based and can be combined with Variable Tuition.
  • Both Changemaker Scholarships and Variable Tuition decisions are offered at the time of admission.
Learn more about Variable Tuition at Affordability at Laurel School

Come to an Admissions Event

Learn how to be a part of a transformational, academically rigorous, and one-of-kind student-centered semester program. Laurel School’s Environmental Justice Semester is for 10th and 11th Grade girls and is open to students from Laurel and all Northeast Ohio schools. Contact Laurel's Admissions Office to learn about curriculum, student-led project work, volunteer partnerships and the admissions process.
March Virtual Info Session
Tuesday, March 5, 2024
6:00 - 7:00 p.m.
April Virtual Info Session
Tuesday, April 30, 2024
7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

About the Semester

List of 4 items.

  • Environmental Justice Defined*

    Environmental Justice (EJ) positions us at the intersection of environmental studies and social justice. EJ issues include such challenges as:
    Climate change
    Inadequate access to healthy food and transportation
    Air and water pollution, and
    Toxicity in homes and communities
    *Environmental Justice Platform adopted at The First People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit, 1991
  • A Semester “Away” in Northeast Ohio

    Current Laurel students and girls from the Greater Cleveland area can pause their studies at their current school and earn a semester of credits through an immersive Fall or Spring semester learning about issues in Environmental Justice and partnering with solution-focused organizations throughout greater Cleveland to take action. At the end of this highly-engaged academic “semester away”, students return to their regular academic program at their high school inspired and hopeful about solutions in the environmental justice movement.

    Learning deeply within a dynamic interdisciplinary structure enables students to more authentically examine the multidimensional aspects of real-world Environmental Justice challenges and understand the varied skills necessary for vigorous scholarship, effective dialogue, and transformational action.
  • Growing the Next Generation of Female Changemakers

    The Environmental Justice Semester is committed to fostering ethical leadership - students make a positive impact in the greater Cleveland area and beyond. As part of their coursework, girls volunteer weekly with EJ-focused partner organizations, matched to student interest, to learn from and support the work already being done in the field of EJ.

    Students become changemakers with the tools, inspiration, and agency to advocate for environmental justice and to use their voices for the greater good. They engage in hands-on research, action for change, and project development in local communities.

    Students will work on individual projects that may include:
    • Climate change policy research
    • Environmental education
    • Lead poisoning policy and education
    • Tackling food deserts
    • Ecological restoration (tree planting, urban gardens, invasive removal)
    • Community organizing
    • Attending local council meetings
    • Journalism
    Over 125 years of experience educating girls and data from Laurel’s Center for Research on Girls (LCRG) shows us that student voice and choice are important, and a feeling of purpose provides motivation for students to discover how they can make an impact in the things they are passionate about and better the world.
  • Environmental Justice Semester Curriculum

    The semester is centered around place-based learning and deep interdisciplinary scholarship while working to build student capacity for compelling storytelling and to foster ethical leadership. English, history, and environmental science courses are taught in interdisciplinary ways, while more discrete subjects such as mathematics and World Languages will be offered online through our longstanding partnership with online educational organization One Schoolhouse (OSH). Our collaboration with OSH provides asynchronous learning that is flexible and complements the EJ semester seamlessly.

    For non-Laurel students, the EJ Semester academic advisors work with the student’s high school academic counselor to coordinate course equivalency and transcripts.

    Students earn semester credits in:
    • Honors English (The Power of Words)
    • Honors Science (Equitable Solutions for a Changing World)
    • Honors History (Environmental Ethics and Policy)
    • Mathematics (placement is tailored specifically for each student; classes conducted online through One Schoolhouse)
    • World Languages (placement is tailored specifically for each student; classes conducted online through One Schoolhouse)
    • Environmental Justice Action Project
    • Physical Education/Personal Wellness
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