Course Description

Advanced Program for High School Students- Art + Science: Local Environments

Artwork by Helen Zhao

Addressing climate change is often posed as happening through macro-scale technological or material innovation. Instead, students in this course consider that change begins with a focus on our own relationship to the environment around us. Students explore not only the science of their local neighborhoods, but also the healthy relationships found in natural systems. Life science and art inquiry processes are bridged to build skills and techniques that showcase our capacity as researchers, observers and creators. Exploration of artists who collaborate with nature, both conceptually and physically, gives consideration to questions that artists grapple with as they imagine possible futures. Assignments will focus on observational skills at the micro and macro scale along with formal elements of artmaking. Students are challenged to experiment with materials through drawing, painting and 3D form. Sketchbook exercises are used to practice techniques and build up research questions, which then become the material for the final project. Time spent outside student workspace is critical to engaging in the course, whether you live near a forest canopy, suburban neighborhood or the shade of a highrise. 


In this intensive course and Visual + Critical Language, students should expect to spend a combined minimum of 20 hours per week engaging in coursework across both courses. Students should plan their schedule accordingly to keep up with class.

In conjunction with your Featured Topics course(s), you are also required to enroll in Visual + Critical Language. When you register for this Featured Topics course, you will also be charged for the tuition of Visual + Critical Language. You will see this enrollment reflected in your Student Portal before the start date of the course. Visual + Critical Language will meet live two times: during the first and final live sessions of your Featured Topics course.


This course is part of RISD's Advanced Program Online, a pre-collegiate program for students ages 15–18 in grades 10–12.

Students who have completed or are currently enrolled in a prerequisite Essential Fundamentals course are eligible to enroll in the Advanced Program Concentration, which includes a Featured Topics course. If you have not yet completed an Essential Fundamentals course, you will receive an Enrollment Warning at checkout, and will be required to submit a Prerequisite Override Request for review.

Applies Towards the Following Certificates

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