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- Global Citizenship
Part of our Alumni – Global Citizen Series
by Liz Lightfoot '77 P '05, '07, '08, '12
Alumni Relations, Community Outreach, and IDEA Parent-Teacher Alliance
Luke Sherman ’08 has a long-standing interest in environmental sustainability and social justice, and he’s using that interest to make a difference globally. After graduating with dual Masters of Public Policy degrees from the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin and Columbia University in New York City, Luke has returned to Germany, where he is working for a Berlin-based consultancy that advises governments and multilateral financial institution on micro finance for sustainable energy in the global south. Projects he’s worked on stand to benefit communities, businesses, and individuals in a variety of countries, including Grenada, Madagascar, and Tanzania.
Luke traces his interest in science and the environment back to his years at The Country School, where in recent years students have spearheaded their own sustainability efforts (scroll down to Editor’s Note). “The advanced science courses I took at TCS helped prepare me for a field of study that places great emphasis on biology and earth and ocean science,” Luke said, adding that his science teachers, Meghan Flynn and Terrie Hartsoe, “gave me the tools I needed to engage in rigorous quantitative and scientific analyses.”
Luke's passion for earth sciences, and also for social justice, grew when he went on to The Williams School, where he continued to focus on science and began engaging with social and environmental justice issues in his work as co-editor-in-chief of the school newspaper. Later, as an undergraduate at Tufts University, where he received his BA in Environmental Studies, French, and Economics, he was involved with Tufts Climate Action, Generation Citizen, and Relay for Life.
In addition to his academic and extracurricular work as a high school, college, and graduate student, Luke has held a multitude of positions interning and/or working for causes he believes in. Those roles include: serving as a reporting intern at Clean Energy Wire; tutoring English as a Second Language; serving on the board of Cinema Politica Berlin, a non-profit media arts organization that screens independent political documentaries; and interning for Oeko-Institute e.V., a Berlin-based company where Luke focused on electric mobility and proposals for reducing the EU’s transportation sector’s greenhouse gas emissions. He was a research and communications intern for Climate Focus in Berlin, contributing research and editing to the 2017 New York Declaration on Forests Assessment Report, and writing and editing social media and blog posts. (Click here to read a blog post he wrote about deforestation.) Other roles include serving as a project assistant for the International Carbon Action Partnership and working as a freelance reporter for The Rainbow Times.
In his current role, Luke has helped to research and develop market and landscape analysis for climate change mitigation and adaptation solutions for small businesses, farmers, and households in Grenada; contributed to feasibility study on Pay-As-You-Go financing for solar home systems in Madagascar; and created a work plan for clean cooking stoves project in Tanzania.
We look forward to welcoming Luke back to campus and learning more about his work and passion for the environment. We know that his activities and interests will offer further inspiration for some of the young environmentalists currently attending The Country School.
Below, Luke and class of 2008 classmates enjoy the "country" campus after a night spent under the stars during the school's 60th Anniversary Tent-In. From left to right, Luke, Capri deBiccari, Alastair Clements, Garrett Osborne, and Hannah Johnson.
Editor’s Note: In recent years, Country School students have embraced several initiatives designed to make our world and our local community more sustainable. Last year, 6th Graders spearheaded an effort to ban single-use plastic bags in the town of Madison, a campaign that preceded the statewide requirement and earned The Country School the Citizen of the Year award from the Madison Chamber of Commerce. (Click here for a newspaper story about the beginnings of their initiative or here to read about students speaking about the issue before the Madison Board of Selectmen.)
This fall, the school began preparing for the installation of solar panels on roofs across campus. Like the plastic bag undertaking, the solar panel initiative was initially inspired by students. While studying the environmental benefits of solar power, members of the class of 2019 became convinced that the plethora of expansive, flat roofs on campus would be ideal places to install solar panels. They lobbied Head of School John Fixx, who took their suggestions to the Board of Trustees, and this fall the roofs were readied. Solar panels will be arriving and installed in the coming weeks.
Students have been studying solar energy for several years now, starting with members of the class of 2014, who were challenged with designing a sustainable House of the Future as part of a STEAM project in Louise Jackson’s Integrated Geometry and Algebra class. Everett Barber, an engineer, solar system consultant, and adjunct at Yale School of Architecture (who is also the husband of longtime history teacher Sarah Barber), joined Mrs. Jackson to co-teach the unit, introducing students to concepts such as the Greenhouse Effect and inviting them to explore statistics related to CO2 emissions and the melting of the polar caps and rising sea levels. They were asked to consider how many BTUs they use to take one shower and to compare CO2 emissions from one country to another. They also discussed how alternative energy is used in other parts of the world and how those statistics compare to what occurs in the United States. Students even made a field trip to the Barbers’ house to see their solar panels and how they work. Several of those initial students have gone on to study science, engineering, and/or sustainability in college. One, Julia Jackson ’14, Mrs. Jackson’s daughter, is focusing on environmental engineering at UConn.
Also the coordinator for the school-wide, cross-curricular STEAM program, Mrs. Jackson and her colleagues are likely to inspire other students to engage in studies that seek to protect our environment. This year’s STEAM Theme is Global Citizenship: Our World, Our Responsibility. Stay tuned for more news about the ways in which Country School students are engaging as responsible environmentally conscious citizens in our world.