What can we help you find?

Alec McCandless

Back to Faculty Spotlights

Christopher H. Lutz Director of the Alvord Center for Global & Environmental Studies
History, Philosophy, Religious Studies, and Social Sciences
Faculty member since 2007
B.A. Tufts University
M.A.L.S. University of Michigan

What drew you to Loomis?

There was an opportunity for me and my wife Jen McCandless, chair of the Visual Arts Department, to both take amazing positions here at Loomis Chaffee. I also love the community of learners here - it’s something you won’t find anywhere else. Our oldest son will be a freshman starting this fall 2015.

What makes the Alvord Center for Global & Environmental Studies an important part of a Loomis education?

Loomis Chaffee has a long tradition of educating students “for service in the nation and in today’s global civilization.” Our students come from across the country and around the world. We are a founding member of School Year Abroad (SYA), have our own language and cultural immersion program in Spain, are one of the earliest U.S. schools to start teaching Chinese, and our curriculum is broadly and deeply infused with global content. As well, the school has been incredibly active in developing environmental studies and sustainability programs, both inside the classroom and out. The Alvord Center works to develop curriculum in these areas, promote extracurricular programming, arrange for visiting speakers, faculty professional development, energy conservation and sustainability efforts in dorms and faculty housing, and much, much more. We truly believe that you can’t be a global citizen without being an environmentally literate one.

What experience have you brought to the Alvord Center?

I have an interdisciplinary academic background in philosophy, history, anthropology, economics, and political science. I have brought this academic background to bear as a classroom teacher for more than two decades, along with taking up various administrative roles along the way. As a longtime classroom teacher, I have also designed or re-designed many courses, including being part of a couple of our current interdisciplinary courses. I also have an extensive background in travel and outdoor pursuits, particularly in backpacking, scuba diving, and sailing, and study and work abroad experience that lend themselves well to this very exciting position at the school.

What has been your most exciting global experience?

In between my sophomore and junior years in college, I took a year off and volunteered at an independent boarding school in a black homeland in South Africa. While there, I was a dorm-head, taught history, English, and math, and worked with an international NGO to design and install an organic/sustainable gardening program on the campus. This was the fall of 1991 to the fall of 1992. Mandela had just been released from prison, but apartheid was still very much alive. While I was at the school, South Africa held its last white-only election, the sole question on the ballot: “Should blacks be allowed to vote?” The country voted “yes”, and the rest is history—of course, the situation on the ground was a bit more complicated than that. It was a wonderful, challenging, fascinating, transformative year, and an experience that I will never forget. My hope is that many of our students will get to have similar experiences, and now I have a chance to help make that happen!