Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 81.82
Liaison Ryan Ihrke
Submission Date Feb. 23, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Green Mountain College
AC-5: Immersive Experience

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Ryan Ihrke
Director of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution offer at least one immersive, sustainability-focused educational study program that is one week or more in length?:

A brief description of the sustainability-focused immersive program(s) offered by the institution, including how each program addresses the social, economic, and environmental dimensions of sustainability:

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 the fall of 2016, seventeen Green Mountain College students and four faculty members spent the fall semester studying the social, economic and environmental dynamics affecting the north country region in Vermont and the Adirondack region of New York.

The students participated in the 12-credit fall block course, "Envisioning a Sustainable and Resilient North Country”. The block course is a GMC innovation combining perspectives from different academic disciplines—the course was co-taught by Philip Ackerman-Leist (sustainable agriculture and food systems), Prof. Laird Christensen (resilient and sustainable communities), Prof. Teresa Coker (environmental education) and Prof. William Throop (philosophy and environmental studies).

Students met with farmers, foresters, landowners, businesspeople, policy makers, and educators to develop strategies of “resiliency”— creating communities that can adapt to environmental, economic, or social disruptions without losing their capacity to function and coherent identity. They presented some of their findings to stakeholders at the Vermont State House.

Another immersion experience was a 3 week long study abroad experience during the 2015-16 winter break where students explored the cultural and environmental diversity of Nepal. The group, led by anthropology professor Mark Dailey and Vice President of Student Life Joe Petrick, explored the old medieval kingdoms of the Kathmandu Valley, the beautiful upland Annapurna region with its views of the Himalayas, and the dynamic environments and lives of the lowland Terai region. Students prepared for the international experience by reading and discussing anthropological writings about Nepal during the fall term and then spent the next three weeks interacting with a variety of local people and environments. Along the way, they learned about ethnic politics, conservation and indigenous people, local agriculture and food, everyday religious practice, contemporary forms of yoga, and cultural tourism and rural development.

An additional format for immersion classes at Green Mountain College 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 programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

For more information about the "Envisioning-a-sustainable-and-resilient-north-country"

For more information about the summer farm intensive, visit:

For more information about the "Envisioning-a-sustainable-and-resilient-north-country"

For more information about the summer farm intensive, visit:

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