Winchester Thurston School

Pittsburgh and Allison Park, PA

In 2004, a grant from the Edward E. Ford Foundation catapulted Winchester Thurston School’s City as Our Campus initiative from concept to reality, enabling the school to utilize the considerable resources of the city of Pittsburgh to enrich its curriculum and build experiential learning programs in partnership with regional institutions.

Over the next five years, WT’s intention is to transform the Upper School experience through City as Our Campus, organizing the initiativearound the following paradigm: Independent schools are interdependent with their communities—each school’s destiny is tied to that of its region. By actively engaging students in the public arena as researchers, artists, communicators, and advocates in the cultural, political, and economic life of the city, WT will seek to serve both as a partner in Pittsburgh’s revitalization, contributing to local solutions, and as a leader in educational transformation, fostering within students an ethos of active inquiry and civic engagement. The expansion of City as Our Campus will focus on four distinct programs:

The Urban Laboratory: A required urban studies course for seniors, encompassing academic work and active research on recognized urban problems, with findings and solutions documented in an online archive that serves as a lasting contribution to the region.

The Urban Online Forum: The virtual hub for City as Our Campus and a resource for other schools, with global reach. Utilizing Web 2.0 tools, students will create an active archive of City as Our Campus projects and experiences, and WT will provide other schools worldwide with a forum for community building and knowledge transfer, interactive online resources, best practices, and access to consultation and technical assistance by WT faculty.

City as Our Campus Committee and Faculty Grant Program: Since 2005, WT has offered a grant program overseen by a faculty committee, to support entrepreneurial teachers in developing and creating educational partnerships. The committee will continue to award grants that fuel innovative teaching and provide technical assistance to teachers. The committee will broaden its work by helping other schools develop City as Our Campus programs in an annual conference hosted by WT.

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The Urban Arts Revealed: A comprehensive interdisciplinary arts program building upon the school’s numerous partnerships with regional arts organizations, which will deepen each student’s experience with the arts through immersion experiences, visiting artists, and internships.