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Environmental Education at Harpeth Hall




Each January, the Cumberland River Compact provides a unique three-week course for students at Harpeth Hall in Nashville to explore their environment through art, science, and history perspectives. During the course students learn the value of water, the importance of the Cumberland River through time, the ways art can be used to advocate for environmental changes, and the innovative solutions for water quality that can be applied to their school campus. We use a project-based learning approach where students end the course by developing an innovative solution for water and environmental challenges at their school campus.


  • Viewing of “Voyage of an Adventure”, exploring John Donelson’s journey down the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers.
  • Creation of water marbling art that reflects the geography and geology of the watershed.
  • Examination of primary sources to understand the positive and negative impacts of dams along our waterways.
  • Introduction to Environmental Justice in Nashville through our urban tree canopy.
  • Use of Model My Watershed to gather data on how changes to the school campus may impact water quality.
  • Field trips to the Tennessee State Museum and to Downtown Nashville.

We have led the course in 2017, 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022. Our Cumberland River curriculum is modeled after the Hudson River curriculum taught at the Masters School in upstate New York. Thanks to the generous support of Mrs. Margaret Smith Warner and Mr. Overton T. Smith, on behalf of the Henry Laird Smith Family Foundation, we are able to provide our own version here in Middle Tennessee.