Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 76.45
Liaison Ryan Ihrke
Submission Date Oct. 17, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Green Mountain College
AC-5: Immersive Experience

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Bill Throop
Provost's Office
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution offer at least one immersive, sustainability-focused educational study program that meets the criteria for this credit?:

A brief description of the sustainability-focused immersive program(s) offered by the institution:

For over a decade, Green Mountain College has offered a series of sustainability immersion courses in various formats. One format for these courses is the nine to fifteen-credit block course. Block courses engage students in understanding the complex social, economic and ecological dynamics of the region and wrestle with competing visions of the region’s future. These have included courses on the northern forest, the local foodshed, the Adirondack Mountains, the Hudson river, and sustainable building. For example, in Fall 2012, professor of environmental studies, Steve Letendre, and assistant professor of renewable energy and ecological design, Lucas Brown, co-taught a fifteen credit course which designed and built a solar garage on the campus farm from start to finish in one semester. The course included analysis of local supplies and energy sources, as well as professional buildings skills such as concrete filling, siding, and professional solar installation. The building is heated by passive solar and boasts a 3.86 kW array on the roof that can charge an electric vehicle parked inside the unit, leaving room for a workshop, storage loft, and a seed germination wall. The project taught students interdisciplinary skill sets and the ability to navigate the complex terrain of social, natural, and financial impacts in the building industry.

In 2014, a block course on climate change and adaptation was taught. This ten-credit block course was entitled “Local Resilience in a Changing Climate”. It included four classes and four professors: “Climate Change Law and Policy” with Christopher Brooks, “Sustainable Development: Theory and Practice” with Jacob Park, “Climate Dynamics” with John Van Hoesen, and “Media Advocacy and Campaigns” with Jason Schmidt. The interdisciplinary course explored the intersection of climate science, policy, community development, and media advocacy as tools to foster and develop community resilience in response to a changing climate. Students investigated best practices and mitigation strategies through relevant case-studies to develop recommendations for effective climate change adaptation and preparation. Through a collaborative service-learning project with the Rutland Regional Planning Commission (RRPC), course participants engaged in the local planning process to create deliverables to share with local communities about how best to position social and financial resources and strengthen their resilience in the face of global climate change.

Another format for immersion classes is the “intensive.” Some of the intensives have been offered as part of the block courses and others have been offered on their own. For example, every summer a sustainable farm intensive is offered. During this field and table intensive, students plow the fields, milk the cows, plant the crops and manage the community supported agriculture program. They take classes and conduct research on topics like organic agriculture and farm systems. They also learn how to live differently. At the end of the day, dinner is about more than food: It's about coming together to cook, laugh and connect. The meal? It's made from produce harvested just down the gravel path from the dining table. Field work weaves into class, which weaves into living. Together, the experience helps students understand how consumption is tied to production, allowing them to navigate complex front burner issues about energy, agriculture and sustainability. Students also leave with a new appreciation for community - how to build it and what it means.

The website URL where information about the immersive program(s) is available:

For more information about the "Local Resilience in a Changing Climate" block course, visit: http://theropeswing.greenmtn.edu/blog/2013/10/24/climate-change-block-course.html

For more information about the solar garage block course, visit: https://reedgmc.jux.com/

For more information about the summer farm intensive, visit: http://www.greenmtn.edu/sustainable_agriculture/farm_intensive.aspx.

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