In recent years Maine parents and educators have become very concerned about how the ongoing funding crisis in Maine's public schools has undermined high school social studies classes, especially those educating students on global issues and their importance to our country.

Two Camden educational institutions, the Camden Conference and the Watershed School, have been working together to offer one solution to this worrisome problem.

On June 24 representatives of the two organizations convened a workshop of social studies teachers from around Maine at the Watershed Independent High School's 32 Washington St. facility in Camden to construct this year's version of the Conference's Curriculum Enrichment Program.

Led by School Director Will Galloway and teacher Judith Masseur, a recent graduate of Brown University's master's program in education, the workshop group was made up of six other experienced educators from Lincoln Academy, Hampden Academy, Foxcroft Academy, and the Maine School for Science & Mathematics, all of whom had attended last February's Camden Conference The Middle East; What's Next? The workshop group took the wealth of information and material from that conference and put it into the CEP format, consisting of conference-related study themes and questions illustrated by video clips from actual conference presentations. The goal was to make this content more user-friendly for high school teachers and their students.

Now that the recent workshop has done its work, the CEP material will be set up on the education page of the Camden Conference website, camdenconference.org, where it will be available for use by teachers and students at no cost.

Charles Graham, CEP program manager, praised Galloway and Masseur, not only for their leadership in this year's CEP process but also for their roles in creating the program four years ago.

"This was Will's original idea. The conference's mission has always been to 'foster informed discourse on world affairs', and the CEP is a way to do that for younger people who might otherwise be overwhelmed by the raw Conference material. What the CEP does, essentially, is take a Niagara Falls of information and bottle it for easier consumption."

In its four years of existence the CEP has been supported financially by Camden National Bank, Maine Humanities Council, and the Emanuel and Pauline A. Lerner Foundation and used by high school teachers throughout New England. Still available at the conference Website is CEP material from other recent conferences concerning: Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Challenges of Asia, and US Leadership in the 21st Century.

The next annual Camden Conference, The Global Politics of Food and Water, will take place Feb. 21-23, 2014, at the Camden Opera House and will be streamed to two satellite venues: the Hutchinson Center in Belfast and The Strand Theatre in Rockland.

For more information visit camdenconference.org, or email info@camdenconference.org or call 236-1034.