Mr. Frye’s Contemporary Issues Course Tackles Real World Problems

An elective offered by history teacher Bob Frye aims to educate the next generation on how to tackle the problems of an ever-changing world.


Mr. Frye and his class.

Holyoke High School offers a wide selection of electives for students to take. They range from English based classes, like Literature on Screen, to science based classes, like Human Anatomy. One underrated course is Mr. Frye’s Contemporary Issues class.

The planet is always changing, however more change, most of it negative, has taken place at a very fast rate over the past fifty years. It was 2007 when Frye began developing the class. Geologists proposed that humans had altered planetary conditions and that we had entered a new age called the “Anthropocene,” which by definition means human activity has influenced climate and the environment. After hearing such news, Frye made a class out of these issues to educate the next generation on what they are, and how they can address the problems.

The class is centered around three bigger picture concepts: Global Issues, Systems Thinking, and Sustainability. Frye teaches about the interconnectedness of the bigger global issues and how we can help make the planet a sustainable place for future generations. Topics like culture, governance, media, economics and how they all contribute to various issues affecting the planet, are used to teach students about human impact.

An abundance of issues are addressed in the class. Frye educates students on just about everything, from global warming to gun violence, in a half-year course. The topics, however are often very negative.

“Teaching the class can be a challenge in itself,” said Frye. “Since many people only hear the doom and gloom and not the potential solutions.”

Although talking about these problems can be scary, it makes for a great course and prepares today’s youth for the real world and how we can fix these problems. Frye is very passionate about teaching the class and has even had students from years ago talk to him about what the class means to them now.

“I am proudest, not of the results I see while teaching the class, but what I see down the road,” Frye told The Herald. “I have had several students come up to me while they are in college and tell me that many aspects of Contemporary Issues were fundamental parts of college classes they were taking. Several students are also now working in fields that relate to topics we discussed in class!”

“I really liked the class!” said Lauren Choquette ‘17 “It educated me on serious problems that are affecting the whole planet and everyone living on it. It’s definitely a class everyone should take because we’re the next generation that’s going to have to deal with these issues, so it’s important that we learn about them now.”

Contemporary Issues allows students to learn about the world from many perspectives, discuss important issues affecting the planet, and how we can work to correct these problems. Frye suggests that upperclassmen take the class as they are the ones going off into the world sooner, however it is open for everyone interested. With scheduling coming up, The Herald suggests every HHS student to consider taking this elective.