Calling all MSoE alumni!

We know you’re out there, doing great things and continuing on your path to creating a life of meaning for yourself and the world.  After three summers of MSoE sessions, the number of alumni is starting to grow.  Folks have gone on to graduate school, law school, positions in government, and positions in the private sector.  We have Udall winners, field researchers, journalists, and educators.  And, of course, we have alumni who are still college students and who are interested in connecting with any one of a number of career paths.

It’s time to think about creating an MSoE alumni network.  I’m thinking of something where students could connect with alumni from across the years to ask about job opportunities, advice on job searches, and resources for GSD (“getting stuff done”), as well as advertising and marketing your own initiatives.

So here’s the question: What would be the best platform for this?  What social-media applications would you use and would allow the kind of information sharing that a real network service allows?  You all know that I’m not a digital native and that I’m several decades past my undergraduate years, so I am not well versed in what digital environment would be the most valuable for you all to use.  Facebook? LinkedIn? A listserv mailing list?

The goal is for this to be of use to you.  So I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Comment here or reach out to me via email.

Lines are open, and operators are standing by.

Another successful session!

The 2016 session of the Middlebury School of the Environment came to a close on Friday (August 5th), bringing a successful conclusion to six weeks of classes and environmental leadership training for 21 students from colleges and universities all over the U.S.

SoE 2016.closing banquetThe faculty and staff of the MSoE were extremely grateful for the hard work, humor, and personal engagement all of the students brought with them.  In all eight of the courses, all of the leadership workshops, and all of our time together on field trips, the students were amazing.  We only hope that all of them have safe travels home this weekend, and that we have another amazing group of students next year!

And speaking of next year … we’ll be back for the Middlebury School of the Environment starting June 23rd, 2017.  While it is too early to commit to exactly what the course catalog will include, I can promise that we’ll be offering hands-on practicums, interdisciplinary seminars, skills-based electives, and a wide-ranging program of leadership workshops.  I’ll be announcing instructors, courses, field trips, keynote speakers, and visiting practitioners in the coming months as the schedule comes together.  Stay tuned for details about MSoE 2017 … and stay engaged with the world around you!  We live in critical times that call upon all of us to be leaders for positive social and environmental change.  Let’s all do our part to make it so.

And don’t forget to rock on!

Sustainability Practicum (2016) Prompt #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?

Provide your answer as a comment to this post. Remember – your comments are public.

Sustainability Practicum (2016) Prompt #3

We began the class three weeks ago with a broad macro-scale perspective on sustainability, and quickly worked toward a micro-scale perspective, focusing on methods directed at small, targeted goals that address specific vulnerabilities for a specific system. Reflect on the pros and cons of these two perspectives. What do we gain and what do we lose by adopting one or the other of these perspectives? What do you think are some solutions or strategies for addressing issues of sustainability that would allow us to retain all of the benefits without suffering from the negative consequences.

 

Provide your answer as a comment to this post. Remember – your comments are public.

Sustainability Practicum (2016) Prompt #2

SP3We have progressed in this course from discussing sustainability in broad conceptual terms to working on specific planning skills, in particular systems mapping and scenario planning. Reflect – using at least one specific example from the readings, your experience, or general knowledge – on your views of how such planning skills can contribute – or not – to developing practical strategies to promote sustainability.

Provide your answer as a comment to this post. Remember – your comments are public.

Sustainability Practicum (2016) Prompt #1

In class on Monday, we began discussion of sustainability by considering the definition of sustainable development offered by the Brundtland Commission (1987) and how it might be revised to take into account its limitations as noted by such authors as Wackernagel and Rees, Ehrenfeld, and Engelman. We went from this …

“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (Brundtland et al. 1987)

… to this …

“Sustainability means living within the Earth’s biocapacity to allow people and nature to flourish while assuring the ability of all future life to flourish.” (MSoE 2016)

There was general agreement that this definition also had limitations, either in interpretability, emphasis, or completeness … as well as its fundamental syntax.

For your first writing prompt, I would like you to critique (in both positive and negative ways) the definition we created. If you believe it needs improvement, then I would like you to offer and justify a revision for consideration by the class. If you believe it is perfect as it is written, then I would like you to justify that position.

Add your critiques, revisions, and justifications as comments to this post. And remember, your posts can be seen by anyone on the Internet. Please put your best face forward in your writing.

Reflections on Place

Students in this year’s Understanding Place course will be exploring a shared place — the Otter Creek watershed — and a place of their own through several lenses in order to build a toolkit that will allow them to better understand any place. That toolkit will, in turn, allow students to teach others about the importance of understanding place while working towards positive social and environmental change. Below under the “Comments” section of this post you will find ongoing reflections about the place that each student has chosen, written in light of their readings, discussions, and activities from each week.

Noah Hutton, Director of “Deep Time”

This summer, the Middlebury School of the Environment will welcome director Noah Hutton for a public showing of his 2015 film, Deep Time.”

Deep TimeThe themes exposed in this acclaimed documentary perfectly blend with those of the MSoE: “Ancient oceans teeming with life, Norwegian settlers, Native Americans and multinational oil corporations find intimacy in deep time. Following up his 2009 feature Crude Independence (SXSW), Deep Time is director Noah Hutton’s ethereal portrait of the landowners, state officials, and oil workers at the center of the most prolific oil boom on the planet for the past six years. With a new focus on the relationship of the indigenous peoples of North Dakota to their surging fossil wealth, Deep Time casts the ongoing boom in the context of paleo-cycles, climate change, and the dark ecology of the future” (adapted from the film’s web site).

Deep Time has been well received by critics and audiences alike.  It won the Special Jury Award at the 2015 Environmental Film Festival at Yale, as well as the Jury Award for Documentary Features at the 2016 Wild and Scenic Film Festival.

We’re excited to have Noah Hutton join us for the screening, which will be followed by an open Q&A with the audience to explore both the subject of the film and the craft of film production.

The screening will be held on July 19th, 7:30 pm in Dana Auditorium on the Middlebury College campus.  The film is free and open to the public, and we hope you will be able to join us.

Peter Forbes joins us this summer

I’m pleased to say that Peter Forbes will join the Middlebury School of the Environment this summer as guest practitioner.

Peter ForbesPeter describes himself this way: “I am a life-long student and advocate for the relationship between people and place. I’ve worked with many different people in very different geography from remote Nepal to the Rocky Mountains to central Harlen, New York. My life as emergency medical technician, photographer, author, father, farmer, and facilitator combine unusual aspect of the practical and visionary to produce work that has been helpful to a variety of sectors: conservation, leadership development, sustainability, philanthropy, and social ventures.

The list of his specific projects and writings is long and diverse:

  • Negotiating Generational Change
  • A Man Apart (2015)
  • Making Allies: Western Maine
  • Making Allies between Conservationists and Rural Native Communities
  • Coming to Land in a Troubled World (2004)
  • Integrating Conservation and Human Wellbeing
  • The Great Remembering: Further thoughts on land, soul and society (2001)
  • Connecting Native and Contemporary Land Trust Leaders
  • Strengthening Conservation by Connecting with Community
  • Making a National Case for Community Conservation

Through his work with the Center for Whole Communities, the Trust for Public Land, and currently Knoll Farm (with his wife, Helen Whybrow), Peter will bring to his conversation with the MSoE students a wealth of experience in integrating the voices of the people and the needs of the land. And we greatly look forward to his time with us!

Managing Environmental Conflict

Jeffrey-Langholz-2Having passion is important.  Having a great idea is a good thing.  But sooner or later, in one setting or another, everyone encounters a conflict in moving an idea forward or getting a message across.  It’s normal, and therefore a successful leader doesn’t focus just on avoiding conflict but also on managing it when it occurs.

This summer, we’re pleased to welcome to the MSoE Dr. Jeffrey Langholz from the Middlebury Institute for International Studies, in Monterey, California.  Jeff is recognized as an expert in international environmental leadership, with extensive experience in working with environmental groups in Africa and Asia.  He will join us to teach a workshop called … appropriately enough … Managing Environmental Conflict: a guerilla guide.

Dr. Langholz’s research focuses sustainable use of natural resources worldwide. How can we use fisheries, forests, wildlife, water, and other natural resources in ways that guarantee their long term survival while also being good for people and profits? He is a recognized authority on the growing role that private lands play in accomplishing the triple goals of biodiversity conservation, economic development, and social justice. A past member of the World Commission on Protected Areas (IUCN), much of Jeff’s work takes place in and around parks of varying kinds. He was a Visiting Fulbright Scholar at South Africa’s Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University for the 2005-2006 academic year, researching best practices for combining conservation and development on private lands in southern Africa.

We know that the student’s will be as excited to work with Jeff this summer as the faculty will be to have him join us!

 

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