Watershed School Seminar Prepares Seniors for Camden Conference

Months before the Camden Conference convenes each year in February, Watershed School seniors begin Senior Seminar, an intensive course that focuses on the event’s topic. The students each select a different book from the public reading list provided by the Camden Conference, and they study relevant current events through all possible media resources. The seniors also attend presentations in the local area and benefit from the lectures of guest speakers who are invited to Watershed.

For this year’s conference, Refugees and Global Migration, Watershed faculty member, Pete Kalajian, is guiding the Senior Seminar class as they study the psycho-social aspects of the public’s response to immigration in Europe and the United States. The students are exploring both sides of the crisis, examining the personal stories of those who have been displaced in addition to considering the practical concerns that develop when countries try to accommodate the needs of a huge population of refugees.

Kalajian has two major goals for the Senior Seminar class: to help the students continue to hone their skills as thinkers and writers, and to bolster their ability to analyze materials and draw conclusions independently. To that end, the students are expected to produce “publication-worthy” reviews of their Camden Conference reading list selections, going through draft after draft, and they are investigating the refugee crisis through multiple media genres. Resources they have consulted for research include: #Aleppo on Twitter; Denmark’s immigration policy; reports by the United Nations and the Human Rights Commission; National Public Radio’s “Hidden Brain” podcast; graphs and presentations on population dynamics; narratives of refugees; and numerous articles in periodicals and newspapers covering regional, national and international perspectives.

When the Camden Conference concludes, the Senior Seminar will transition into the Senior Project. The class will then use that block of time to concentrate on studies of their own choosing, culminating in presentations on May 25th that will be open to the public. New this year to the Senior Project is the unifying theme of “making the world a better place."

“The exciting part about teaching this class is that the students are motivated to learn about this subject because they have concern and compassion for less-fortunate humans around the world,” said Kalajian.