John Elder joined the Middlebury College faculty in 1973. His original appointment was in English, followed by a split-appointment in English and American Literatures and in Environmental Studies. Since 2007 he was appointed as a non-departmental College Professor. Starting in 1981, he has also taught most summers at the Bread Loaf School of English, including at the Alaska, New Mexico, and North Carolina campuses as well as at the Mother Loaf.
John's special areas of interest as a teacher are in American nature writing, English Romantic Poetry, modern American poetry of nature, and Japan's haiku tradition. In recent years, he has also enjoyed exploring the possibilities for service-learning and community-based education, through courses related to residents' sense of place in the nearby town of Starksboro and to the challenges and hopes of eleven Addison County farmers. His three most recent books -- Reading the Mountains of Home, The Frog Run, and Pilgrimage to Vallombrosa -- have each combined discussion of literature, description of Vermont's landscape and natural history, and personal memoir.
With his wife Rita, a retired special educator, John lives in the village of Bristol. They operate a sugarbush in Starksboro with their three grown children and two grandchildren and are active in state and local environmental efforts.
Courses offered in the past four years.
▲ indicates offered in the current term
▹ indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]
ENGL 7635 - The Poetry of Robert Frost
ENVS 0500 - Independent Study ▲ ▹
In this course, students (non-seniors) carry out an independent research or creative project on a topic pertinent to the relationship between humans and the environment. The project, carried out under the supervision of a faculty member with related expertise who is appointed in or affiliated with the Environmental Studies Program, must involve a significant amount of independent research and analysis. The expectations and any associated final products will be defined in consultation with the faculty advisor. Students may enroll in ENVS 0500 no more than twice for a given project. (Approval only)
Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Winter 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Spring 2016
ENVS 0700 - Senior Independent Study ▲ ▹
Senior Independent Study
In this course, seniors complete an independent research or creative project on a topic pertinent to the relationship between humans and the environment. During the term prior to enrolling in ENVS 0700, a student must discuss and agree upon a project topic with a faculty advisor who is appointed in or affiliated with the Environmental Studies Program and submit a brief project proposal to the Director of Environmental Studies for Approval. The expectations and any associated final products will be defined in consultation with the faculty advisor. Students may enroll in ENVS 0700 as a one-term independent study OR up to twice as part of a multi-term project, including as a lead-up to ENVS 0701 (ES Senior Thesis). (Senior standing; Approval only)
Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016
MPAG 8542 - Communicatng for Social Change
This two credit course explores effective modes of communication in interpersonal and intercultural dialogue. Thoughtful exchange requires an environment where one is both trusting and trustworthy. Emphasizing embodied discussion, sessions include movement and writing integrated with close readings of theoretical materials. Specific exercises foster self-knowledge and hone attentiveness to each other’s stories, in the belief that such reflective skills foster healthy communities and mutually respectful relationships [between groups and within nations]. Skills are directly applicable to daily life and multilingual/international work environments. Examples are drawn from Action Research whose major premise includes a commitment to non-violent social change in community development, in partnership with all stakeholders.
Spring 2014 - MIIS