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REACH Summer Seminar: Courses

Students will select one of three academic areas of focus, which involves six days of instruction and hands-on learning. The project-based academic seminars are taught by Davidson Academy instructors and take place on the University of Nevada, Reno campus. Academic topics will vary each year.

2021 Academic Seminars

Climate Change by Design: Geoengineering and the Future of Climate Intervention
Instructor: Jon Lawhead

There is a strong scientific consensus that climate change is here, that its effects over the next century will be problematic, and that human behavior is the dominant factor.  However, there is very little consensus about what to do to stop the looming environmental disaster.  Recently, an increasing number of scientists and public policy officials have started to take a once-radical idea more seriously: what if we were to deliberately intervene in the climate system and attempt to engineer its behavior at a global level?

This course will explore the science, policy, ethics, and practicalities of “geoengineering”—a catch-all term for any attempt to deliberately manipulate the global climate system for human benefit.  We will first learn some basic concepts in atmospheric physics and climatology (including how the greenhouse effect works at a physical level, how we make predictions about the future of the climate, and how we evaluate different climate policy proposals).  We will then turn to an examination of geoengineering and other non-traditional policy interventions specifically.  We will discuss the basic mechanics of leading proposals such as stratospheric aerosol injection and carbon capture and sequestration, and consider the challenges associated with attempting to engineer the behavior of a system as large, chaotic, and complex as the global climate.  Students will be given an opportunity to independently evaluate different geoengineering proposals, and to craft their ideal “policy portfolio” of climate policy interventions through independent research and work with the En-Roads Climate Change Solutions Simulator.

Linking Past and Present: Applying History to Today
Instructor: Erin Cummings

In this course students will learn and practice historical thinking skills by doing history hands-on every day! Employing an interdisciplinary approach (including perspectives from history, sociology, political science, philosophy, economics, and cultural studies), students will utilize a variety of local resources and sites, to explore Reno’s regional history and culture in order to understand broader historical themes and patterns, such as the relationships between environment and human communities, between human communities of different backgrounds, and between cultural values and human action. The course will culminate in comparative history research projects. Students will research historical topics of their choosing and compare and contrast them with similar current-day issues to determine what has changed, what has stayed the same, and most importantly, what we can learn from the past to benefit here in the present and going forward into the future.   course introduces students to historical thinking skills by studying some of the world’s greatest empires. Each day students will explore a different empire, delving into its rise to power, the key figures during its reign, and the experiences of its people. As they become historical thinkers, students will also formulate and support arguments for the causes of each empire’s collapse and draw broader conclusions about the nature of empires.

What It Takes to be an Architect: Math Behind It All
Instructor: Arthur Pascual

This summer, students in the REACH Summer Seminar will go through a week course where students will learn and experience all the math it takes to design a floor plan. Through the week, students will explore ratios, area and perimeter, mapping, and even cost analysis. Students will be eventually creating a 3D model of their dream home from the interior to the exterior using accurate measurements and ratios to duplicate a potential real-life building. Furthermore, students will need to “sell” their product to the consumers but explain their building and why “consumers” need to buy or invest in their building. From learning the design, to selling, students will use math the create and explain all the steps in between.

Meet the Instructors

Jon Lawhead is a philosopher with wide-ranging interests in the intersection of philosophy and the natural sciences. He earned a BA in philosophy and a BA in peace and conflict studies from UC Berkeley in 2007. Jon then attended graduate school at Columbia University, where he earned an MA (2010), MPhil (2012), and PhD (2014) in philosophy, with a focus on the foundations of climate science and complex systems theories. After completing his doctorate, he spent two years in a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Southern California working in an interdisciplinary role between the philosophy and earth science departments and doing research bridging the gap between those two disciplines, with a special emphasis on geoengineering and climate model analysis. He has taught at the Davidson Academy since January of 2017, offering courses on a variety of topics, including climate science, complex systems and chaos theory, philosophy, science writing, digital culture, philosophy of science, and post-apocalyptic literature.

Erin Cummings earned her B.A. in history at Metropolitan State University of Denver and continued on to earn her M.A. in history at the University of Nevada, Reno. Before joining the staff of the Davidson Academy in 2017, Erin spent five years designing and teaching courses in the humanities at UNR and TMCC. At the Davidson Academy she teaches Patterns in Ancient History, Patterns in Modern History, and a variety of electives celebrating pop culture, and is delighted to be teaching a humanities course for REACH this summer. “Doing history,” as she likes to put it, continues to open her mind and broaden her perspectives, and she hopes to make it equally as rewarding for students. When Erin’s not doing history, she is baking or cooking, sewing, bingeing true crime and cooking shows, reading, listening to music (and there’s a good chance it’s the Beach Boys), or talking to her houseplants and robot vacuum—not to mention the occasional spider—as if they were human.

Arthur Pascual is excited to be here and teaching math to the REACH Summer Seminar! Arthur graduated with the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011 with a bachelor’s in mathematics and Education with a minor in Japanese and Music. He continued his education further to receive his M.S. in Equity and Diversity Education with his emphasis of getting girls into STEM fields using Spatial Intelligence. With all this educational experience, Arthur has been teaching for 8 years in various places, including abroad in South Korea for three years and Reno for the other five. Arthur has taught various ages from 3rd grade to high school, and various levels of math from Elementary mathematics to Calculus. Besides mathematics, he has also received an endorsement to teach gifted students. Outside of teaching, Arthur is also a musician with various groups including Reno Pops Orchestra playing percussion and Tintabulations Handbell Ensemble. He also coaches marching band and indoor percussion at a local high school. On his spare time, Arthur loves to bake and cook food he has seen on the Food Network, he loves to run races and daily CrossFit routine, and even avidly still play video games (he was a former professional gamer during college) and board games.