Vermont Educational Alliance on Poverty | 2nd Annual Symposium

Friday, October 26th, 2018 | 12 – 6:00pm | Middlebury College Kirk Center

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The Middlebury College Center for Community Engagement. the Privilege & Poverty Academic Cluster, and the University of Vermont College of Education and Social Services, with support from the Fieldstone Foundation, presented this year’s VEAP Symposium – “Fostering Equitable Communities: The links between environments and poverty”.

  • In your community, what links have you seen between poverty and the environment?
  • How has climate change impacted your thinking about community, particularly as the impact relates to individuals and families living in poverty?
  • How can we best situate experiential learning opportunities at the intersection of environment and poverty to foster equitable communities?

Middlebury College Privilege & Poverty Cluster Academic Director and Professor of Religion James Calvin Davis led an opening panel session. The panel featured UVM and Middlebury College students discussing their experiences studying poverty through service-learning in Vermont and around the country, followed by breakout sessions and a keynote address by two UVM faculty members. Lunch, panel and breakout sessions are by invitation. The keynote address was open to the public.  

Keynote Address – “Nature’s Benefit: The wide-ranging role of well-functioning ecosystems in improving human welfare”

Keynote Speakers – UVM Professors Brendan Fisher and Trish O’Kane | Middlebury College Professor Rebecca Kneale Gould, Respondent 

What do we get from the environment?  Well, pretty much everything. In this keynote we’ll look at the many things that ecosystems do to provide us with healthy and satisfying lives. We’ll look, in particular, at how protecting ecosystems and engaging with nature provides clean water, nutrition, and sense of belonging and place. Please join us.

Brendan Fisher is an Associate Professor in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at UVM. His research and fieldwork lie at the nexus of conservation, development, natural resource economics and human behavior. He is the author of over 50 peer-reviewed articles on topics such as poverty, health, ecosystem services and biological conservation, and the author with colleagues of two books, Valuing Ecosystem Services (Earthscan, London, 2008) and A Field Guide to Economics for Conservationists (Roberts and Company, 2015). Brendan teaches courses on sustainability science, behavioral economics, environmental/ecological economics and ecosystem management.


Trish O’Kane is a Lecturer in Environmental Studies and an environmental educator who uses action-research to promote environmental and social justice. Before studying the natural sciences, Trish worked as a human and civil rights investigative journalist for a decade in Central America and five years in the Deep South. In Alabama, she conducted research on white supremacist groups for the Southern Poverty Law Center. Trish has also taught writing in a women’s prison.  She believes in harnessing the power of passionate, knowledgeable and energetic students to help solve community and global problems.

Event Schedule: 

11:45am – 12:00pm: Registration

12:15 – 1:15pm: Lunch, with welcoming remarks by Middlebury College President Laurie L. Patton, and Middlebury College Privilege and Poverty Cluster Academic Director and Professor of Religion James Calvin Davis

1:30 – 3:00pm: Panel session

3:15 – 4:15pm: Breakout sessions

4:15 – 4:30pm: Break, light refreshments served

4:30 – 5:45pm: Keynote address

5:45 – 6:00pm: Closing remarks

Location: Kirk Center, Middlebury College | 217 Golf Course Rd. Middlebury, VT 05753 

The VEAP 2018 Symposium was sponsored by UVM’s College of Education and Social Services, Middlebury College’s Center for Community Engagement, the Privilege & Poverty Academic Cluster at Middlebury College, the Fieldstone Foundation, and the Vermont Educational Alliance on Poverty.

Questions? Contact Jason Duquette-Hoffman, Assistant Director for Privilege and Poverty at the Middlebury College Center for Community Engagement

What is VEAP? 

The Vermont Educational Alliance on Poverty (VEAP) brings its members together to address issues of poverty in Vermont, through collaborative efforts between our institutions and with community partners.  Students, faculty, and staff engage poverty by way of classroom and experiential learning, research, and public advocacy. The Alliance’s activities build student capacities for recognizing and responding to poverty in a wide range of career trajectories, while contributing to the development of human capital in Vermont.

VEAP is proud to both host its second annual symposium this fall and align its efforts with the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty (SHECP), a consortium that has been amplifying poverty studies and engaged learning since 1998.

For information about VEAP or SHECP, please contact any of the following: