Understanding Place Week 5: Cultural views of place

This week we have discussed multiple cultural views of place, and how recognizing those views can help us care for places, and in turn, work towards positive social and environmental change. Students of the Understanding Place class should post a comment here reflecting on the importance of cultural lenses in their understanding of that place.

Sustainability Practicum Essay 4

In a later chapter in his book Flourishing, John Ehrenfeld says that the question of whether one is optimistic or pessimistic about the future is the wrong question. The right question about the future, he says, is, “Are you hopeful?” Why might that be an important question to ask if you are thinking about engaging with issues of sustainability as a young adult?

And what is your personal response to that question? Are you hopeful? If so, why? From what source or feeling do you manufacture your hope? And if not, what motivates you to pursue an educational path that includes an emphasis on a study of the environment even though you are not hopeful for the future?  The best answers will be ones that draw specific information or support from the readings, interviews, and/or case studies we have engaged with throughout our time in the SoE this year, including our week in Washington, DC, with Planet Forward.

Post your essay as a comment to the relevant post of the MSoE’s blog, The Stream, by Friday, July 28th, by 5:00 pm.

Understanding Place Week 3: Non-Human Others and Relational Shaping of Place

This week we have examined several lenses and perspectives helping to make visible (or audible, or tactile…) the influences of non-human others in shaping places. These lenses have included acoustic ecology, highlighting the importance of attending to biophony, geophony, and anthrophony in shaping a multi-species inclusive sense of place, as well as kincentric ecology, a specific cultural lens into traditional foodways. Students in Understanding Place should comment here, reflecting on the influences of non-human others on their chosen places. Don’t forget to also upload your comment through the appropriate link on Canvas.

Sustainability Practicum Essay 3

Reflect on how your exploration of “place” in your other core course, Understanding Place, influences your thinking about the scale, scope, or nature of the system that you are considering for the challenge in the Sustainability Practicum.

Post your essay as a comment to the relevant post of the MSoE’s blog, The Stream, by Monday, June 17th, by 9:00 pm (although you’ll probably want to complete this before we leave for Washington, DC, on Sunday so you don’t have to deal with it while we are traveling).

Understanding Place Week 2: Spatial Scales and Local-Global Connections

This week we have thought about how observing and experiencing place through different spatial scales can help us care for places, and in turn, work towards positive social and environmental change. Students of the Understanding Place class should post a comment here reflecting on the importance of spatial scales in their understanding of that place.

Sustainability Practicum Essay 2

We have progressed in this course from discussing sustainability in broad conceptual terms to working on specific planning and facilitation skills, such as systems mapping, scenario planning, and creative ideation.

Reflect – using at least one specific example from the readings, your experience, or general knowledge – on your views of how such skills can contribute – or not – to developing practical strategies to promote sustainability.

Post your essay as a comment to the relevant post of the MSoE’s blog, The Stream, by Monday, June 10th, at 9:00 am.

Sustainability Practicum Essay 1

In class on Monday, we began discussion of sustainability by considering and comparing the definitions of sustainable development and sustainability offered by the Brundtland Commission, Mathis Wackernagel and Bill Rees, and John Ehrenfeld.

For your first essay, I would like you to briefly critique (in both positive and negative ways, as relevant) each of these definitions.  Then, and more importantly, I would like you to offer and justify a definition that you can support.  This can be one of the formal definitions we discussed, a combination of them, or one of your own creation.

Post your essay as a comment to this post by Monday, June 3rd, at 9:00 am

Understanding Place Week 1: Temporal Scales

This week we have thought about how observing and experiencing place through different time scales can help us care for places, and in turn, work towards positive social and environmental change. Students of the Understanding Place class should post a comment here, each briefly describing a chosen place that they know well, and then reflecting on the importance of temporal scales in their understanding of that place.

SoE Summer 2017, here we come!

 

The SoE is off to a great start! Twenty-four students have arrived and are already delving deep into their classes with returning faculty; participating in workshops on communication styles and teaming; and having lunch with practitioners like Middlebury’s president, Laurie Patton. We took a great hike up Snake Mountain and are looking forward to the exciting, integrative weeks to come.

The SoE heads to D.C.!

I’m excited to announce that we’re adding something new to the School of the Environment’s schedule for this summer.  For one week during our six-week session, we will all be going down to Washington, D.C., to supplement our curriculum and leadership training program with visits with environmental leaders, organizations, and agencies to explore first-hand the strategies for … and challenges of … leading in a time of political change.  In addition, we will engage closely with Frank Sesno and his team at Planet Forward, an organization based at George Washington University with the mission of moving the environmental narrative of the planet forward (hence the name) with evocative storytelling and communication.

Alumni from the MSoE’15 will remember Frank Sesno as our keynote speaker and one of our guest practitioners. He is currently the Director of The George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs and the creator and host of Planet Forward. He was formerly CNN’s DC bureau chief, as well as anchor, interview host, and White House correspondent. He was the long-running host of CNN’s Sunday talk show Late Edition, and he remains a frequent guest host for CNN’s Reliable Sources.

Together with folks at Planet Forward, the MSoE faculty will help the students in this year’s program confront the question, “How can you lead in a time of change?”  In fact, the political transitions we see in the U.S. today call upon all of us to recognize that leadership and strategies for environmental engagement must be responsive to dynamic political and cultural environments, and the question of how to lead in a time of change will frame our entire program this summer.

Our week in D.C. is included in the overall session and will not require any additional costs for the students.  We will depart from Middlebury on Sunday, July 16th, and return on Saturday, July 22nd.  This is the 4th week of our session, giving us plenty of opportunity to prepare in our classes beforehand and to follow-up with what we learned afterwards.  We will be staying in the dorms at George Washington University’s Mt. Vernon campus, and we’ll take advantage of the facilities at the GW School of Media and Public Affairs as well as Middlebury College’s own office complex on K Street.

It is not an exaggeration to say that Washington, D.C., is one of the global capitals for environmental policy and engagement.  The opportunity to integrate this experience with the traditional MSoE curriculum is amazing!

I’ll be posting more about this trip as details are confirmed.  But I can guarantee that the week will be amazing!

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