New resource for secondary schools: How can soils save the world? by Anna Macphie

Working with The Brilliant Club, Anna Macphie has recently designed a programme of tutorials to introduce Key Stage 4 pupils to the global, regional, and local importance of tropical peatlands. The Brilliant Club is a charity that works with schools across the UK to increase the number of pupils from underrepresented backgrounds progressing to highly-selective universities. Their Scholars Programme invites PhD students to run an 8-week course of university-style tutorials on their research topic to build pupils’ skills, knowledge, and confidence; to encourage them to progress to a top university.

Anna’s syllabus invites pupils to examine the interdisciplinary challenges that arise from managing and conserving Amazonian peatlands. This involves incorporating aspects of lots of different subjects such as politics, economics, geography, biology, social studies, and law, and applying relevant ideas to the specific context of tropical peatlands. Particularly, pupils will analyse the ecosystem services that peatlands provide, reflect upon the impacts that utilisation of these areas can have, and interrogate different management approaches to establish best practises to ensure conservation outcomes are achieved.

More widely, the course asks pupils to break down disciplinary boundaries by drawing in concepts from other subjects and to reflect on how these extra considerations can provide valuable additional context to the challenges and tasks at hand. Analysing case studies and discovering innovative solutions to real-world dilemmas, this course encourages pupils to consider connections between different stakeholders, incorporate concepts from multiple disciplines (such as sustainable development, ecology, anthropology, conservation, and geography), and to think critically about the relationship between people and the natural world.

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