Environmental Systems and Societies (ESS)

I don't think we are going to become extinct. We're very clever and extremely resourceful – and we will find ways of preserving ourselves, of that I'm sure. But whether our lives will be as rich as they are now is another question.David Attenborough (1926–) British broadcaster and naturalist

We are often told we are materialistic. It seems to me, we are not materialistic enough. We have a disrespect for materials. We use it quickly and carelessly. If we were genuinely materialistic people, we would understand where materials come from and where they go to. At the moment, the entire global economy seems to be built on the model of digging things up from one hole in the ground on one side of the earth, transporting them around the world, using them for a few days, and sticking them in a hole in the ground on the other side of the world.George Monbiot (1963–) British writer

The more clearly we focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.Rachel Carson (1907–1964) American marine biologist

Environmental Systems and Societies is the study of environmental issues and their impact on today’s society. We study topical subjects, such as: global warming, energy security, conservation of biodiversity, pollution management, agricultural systems, sustainability and carrying capacity.

The feedback from students is extremely positive; they can directly relate to the topic material studied because it affects them today and will do in the future.

At Oakham ESS is taught at Standard Level in the International Baccalaureate and is a good choice for students who also have an interest in Biology, Geography, Politics and Economics. The course is designed to promote holistic thinking about environmental issues through exploration of cultural, economic, ethical, political, and social interactions of societies with the environment. Throughout the course we aim to develop in students a sound understanding of the interrelationships between environmental systems and societies and to help them see the significance of choices and decisions that they make in their own lives.

The subject is taught with enthusiasm and through a variety of activities. Course highlights include: fieldwork that students carry out both locally and at an annual residential field course in Orielton, Pembrokeshire; external speakers and OOs, who give talks about their experiences; and visits to Twycross Zoo, Rutland Water and other conservation areas.

The main topics are studied on both a local and global scale and prepare students for further study in a wide range of possible career paths, for example: Environmental Sciences/Management, Biogeography, International relations, Environmental Law, Environmental Engineering and Agriculture.