Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 75.15
Liaison Christina Goodwin
Submission Date March 5, 2021
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Sterling College (VT)
AC-3: Undergraduate Program

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.00 / 3.00 Laura Berry
Registrar
Administrative
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution offer at least one sustainability-focused major, degree program, or the equivalent for undergraduate students (I.e. an interdisciplinary academic program that concentrates on sustainability as an integrated concept)?:
Yes

Name of the sustainability-focused undergraduate degree program:
Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems

A brief description of the undergraduate degree program:

Sustainable agriculture and food systems at Sterling College is about taking an ecological approach to farming. Students who earn a degree in this program know how to build a future of small farming that doesn’t exacerbate climate change, water scarcity, or pollution. Thanks to hands-on coursework, students know how to raise crops for human food and fiber needs, how to measure and tend to soil health, and how to work with draft horses.

The heart of the sustainable agriculture side of the degree is our own farm, where students grow 30% of the food consumed on campus. All students on campus work on the farm and gardens at some point during their Sterling College experience. Students learn about season extension strategies for vegetable production, raising pastured meats, and how to use both small tractors and draft animals for a true mixed power model. This particular curriculum has a broad foundation in Biology, Forestry, Soil Science, and Animal Science. Students also learn about small business management practices and will explore state and federal agricultural policy.

As for the food systems component, students examine the social, cultural, and ecological impacts of the way food is produced, consumed, and regarded. Students start with an immersion in the food systems of the region, with hands-on culinary experiences, field visits to the region’s artisanal food producers, seminars in food writing, and intensives in small-scale value-added products such as cheese, meat, and lacto-fermentation. The aspect of Sustainable Food Systems is a launchpad for those who wish to make a difference in food and food policy, food security, food entrepreneurship and business, as well as education and public health.


The website URL for the undergraduate degree program:
Name of the sustainability-focused, undergraduate degree program (2nd program):
Ecology

A brief description of the undergraduate degree program (2nd program):

When students study ecology at Sterling College, they get unparalleled opportunities to explore, research, and engage with the natural world. Sterling College’s Ecology major is designed to educate environmental stewards who will be vital in developing solutions for a sustainable and sustaining future.
Through courses and fieldwork in ecology, natural history, conservation, and related areas, students get an in-depth understanding of the natural world and ecological systems. Students develop a solid foundation in ecological framework, and engage in real world research with leading faculty and partnering organizations. Field courses and internships allow students to apply their knowledge in places from Craftsbury to the American Southwest to Mongolia.
Our Ecology graduates leave Sterling with the necessary skills for a range of careers and well-prepared for further graduate-level studies. Sterling alumni in Ecology work as guides, field researchers, consultants, and other positions for private conservation organizations such as The Nature Conservancy, state-level environmental agencies such as the Department of Environmental Conservation, and federal-level agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Park Service.


The website URL for the undergraduate degree program (2nd program):
Name of the sustainability-focused, undergraduate degree program (3rd program):
Self-Designed Major

A brief description of the undergraduate degree program (3rd program):

The realm of environmentally-focused studies is ever-changing, so the self-designed major allows for students to dive into a topic they feel strongly about. Recent self-designed major examples include Agroecology, Agroforestry, Environmental Chemistry, Farm & Nature Education, Natural Resource Stewardship, Sustainable Building & Design, and Wilderness Therapy.

To make the most of this customizable college experience, the students start their education by taking a Self-Designed Major Workshop in which they work with a professor to propose their major. Next, they combine classes from Sterling’s major programs in Ecology, Environmental Humanities, Outdoor Education, and Sustainable Agriculture and Sustainable Food Systems with Independent Study courses developed with faculty members to create their ideal degree program.

Moreover, the student is then easily able to travel with purpose through the Global Field Studies program that is included in their tuition. Students will gain on-job experience through internships with organizations like The Center for an Agricultural Economy, Independent Power, the Regenerative Design Center, Chandler Pond Farm, Rocky Mountain National Park, and more.


The website URL for the undergraduate degree program (3rd program):
The name and website URLs of all other sustainability-focused, undergraduate degree program(s):
Does the institution offer one or more sustainability-focused minors, concentrations or certificates for undergraduate students?:
Yes

Name of the sustainability-focused undergraduate minor, concentration or certificate:
Climate Justice

A brief description of the undergraduate minor, concentration or certificate:

At Sterling College, Climate Justice is seen as the intersection of environmental degradation, climate change, and issues concerning social inequality. This minor is an opportunity for students to delve into these multifaceted issues by studying the interdisciplinary field of climate justice, exploring the questions, and searching for solutions to the complex issues of climate change and inequality.

Students pursuing a minor in Climate Justice at Sterling College will explore environmental and social justice issues that both contribute to and arise from climate change. With a strong understanding of ecology, an introduction to climate science, and further studies in economics, policy and law, community organizing and social change, Sterling students will become uniquely qualified to engage critically in constructing effective responses to climate change.


The website URL for the undergraduate minor, concentration or certificate:
Name of the sustainability-focused undergraduate minor, concentration or certificate (2nd program):
Natural Resource Conservation

A brief description of the undergraduate minor, concentration or certificate (2nd program):

Sterling College students pursuing a minor in Natural Resources Conservation examine local and global conservation issues including natural resources sustainability and biodiversity protection. Courses provide students with a strong understanding of methods, concepts, and application of conservation and management techniques. Equipped with a variety of field experiences and strong communication skills, students enter the conservation field and work towards viable solutions to pressing environmental issues.


The website URL for the undergraduate minor, concentration or certificate (2nd program):
Name of the sustainability-focused undergraduate minor, concentration or certificate (3rd program):
Natural History

A brief description of the undergraduate minor, concentration or certificate (3rd program):

The study and practice of natural history is fundamental to our existence as human beings and is foundational to our relationship with the natural world. Today, naturalists use field methods that emphasize observation, identification, description and interpretation. Natural History coursework blends natural sciences with training in field journaling, keeping species accounts and species lists, and related interpretive skills such as illustration and education.


The website URL for the undergraduate minor, concentration or certificate (3rd program):
The name and website URLs of all other sustainability-focused undergraduate minors, concentrations and certificates:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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Every major and minor at Sterling College is sustainability-focused. We offer four majors: Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems, Ecology, Environmental Humanities, and Outdoor Education and offer a Self-Design option. Additionally, we offer minors in Draft Horse Management, Education Studies, Natural Resources Conservation, Natural History, and Climate Justice. The overarching goal for all of our degrees is to have our graduates live satisfying and productive lives as environmental stewards.

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