Jonathan T. Isham, Jr.

Professor of Economics

Phone: work802.443.5761
Office Hours: By appointment.
Download Contact Information

Jon Isham is currently the Director of Environmental Studies and the Faculty Director of the Middlebury Center for Social Entrepreneurship, which launched in January 2012. His webpage can be found here.

Jon teaches classes about social entrepreneurship, 21st-century global challenges, climate change, environmental economics, environmental policy, and microeconomics. His research encompasses a broad range of questions about institutional determinants of well-being and sustainability.  He co-edited (Island Press, 2007) and Ignition: What You Can Do to Fight Global Warming and Spark a Movement and Social Capital and Economic Development: Well-Being in Developing Countries (Edward Elgar Publications, 2002); has published articles in Economic Development and Cultural Change, The Journal of African Economies, The Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Rural Sociology, Society and Natural Resources, The Southern Economic Journal, The Vermont Law Review, World Bank Economic Review and other journals; and book chapters in volumes from Ashgate Press, The New England University Press, Oxford University Press, and Cambridge University Press.  More information about his research can be found on his c.v. and his website.

Jon has an AB in Anthropology from Harvard College, an MA in International Studies from Johns Hopkins University, and a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Maryland. He and his wife Tracy Himmel Isham and their three daughters live in Cornwall VT.



indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

ECON 0155 - Intro Microeconomics      

Introductory Microeconomics
An introduction to the analysis of such microeconomic problems as price formation (the forces behind demand and supply), market structures from competitive to oligopolistic, distribution of income, and public policy options bearing on these problems. 3 hrs. lect.


Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2014, Fall 2014

More Information »

ECON 0265 - Environmental Economics      

Environmental Economics
This course is dedicated to the proposition that economic reasoning is critical for analyzing the persistence of environmental damage and for designing cost-effective environmental policies. The objectives of the course are that each student (a) understands the economic approach to the environment; (b) can use microeconomics to illustrate the theory of environmental policy; and (c) comprehends and can critically evaluate: alternative environmental standards, benefits and costs of environmental protection, and incentive-based environmental policies. (ECON 0155) 3 hrs. lect.

Fall 2011

More Information »

ECON 0465 - Environmental Economics Topics      

Special Topics in Environmental Economics
The objective of this seminar is that each student achieves fluency in a set of advanced concepts in environmental economics. The seminar is divided into two main sections. First, we introduce the core theory and policy implications of environmental economics. These include the theory of externalities and public goods; the Coase theorem; and policy instrument choice. Empirical methods used to measure the costs and benefits of environmental policies are also introduced. Second, we study some selected topics: the economics of local air pollution and greenhouse gases; the design of market-based environmental policies; the economics of non-renewable resources, including fossil fuels and old-growth forests; and the management of renewable resources, including fisheries and second-growth forest resources. (ECON 0255) 3 hrs. sem.

Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013

More Information »

ECON 0500 - Individual Special Project      

Individual Special Project
If you choose to pursue an area that we do not offer or go in depth in an area already covered, we recommend the Individual Special Project option. These ECON 0500 proposals MUST be passed by the entire department and are to be submitted to the chair by the first Friday of fall and spring semester, respectively. The proposals should contain a specific description of the course contents, its goals, and the mechanisms by which goals are to be realized. It should also include a bibliography. According to the College Handbook, ECON 0500 projects are a privilege open to those students with advanced preparation and superior records in their fields. A student needs to have a 3.5 or higher G.P.A. in Economics courses taken at Middlebury in order to pursue an Individual Special Project. ECON 0500 does not count towards the major or minor requirements.

Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015

More Information »

ENVS 0211 - Conservation & Env Policy      

Topic determined by instructor - please refer to the section.


Spring 2015

More Information »

ENVS 0401 - Environmental Studies Sr Sem      

Environmental Studies Senior Seminar
A single environmental topic will be explored through reading, discussion, and individual research. Topics will vary from semester to semester, but will focus on issues with relevance to the local region and with interdisciplinary dimensions, such as temperate forests, lake ecosystems, or public lands policy. The class involves extensive reading, student-led discussions, and a collaborative research project. (Senior standing; ENVS 0112, ENVS 0211, ENVS 0215, and GEOG 0120) 3 hrs. sem./3 hrs. lab

Spring 2014

More Information »

ENVS 0500 - Independent Study      

Independent Study
A one- or two-semester research project on a topic that relates to the relationship between humans and the environment. The project, carried out under the supervision of a faculty member with related expertise, must involve a significant amount of independent research and analysis. Students may enroll in ENVS 0500 no more than twice for a given project. (Approval only)

Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Spring 2016

More Information »

ENVS 0700 - ES Senior Honors Work      

Senior Honors Work
The final semester of a multi-semester research project on a topic pertinent to the relationship between humans and the environment. Students may enroll in ENVS 0700 only once. (Previous work would have been conducted as one or two semesters of an ENVS 0500 Independent Study project.) The project, carried out under the supervision of a faculty member, will result in a substantial piece of writing, and will be presented to other ENVS faculty and students in a public forum. (Senior standing; ENVS 0112, ENVS 0211, ENVS 0215, GEOG 0120, and ENVS 0500; Approval only)

Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Spring 2016

More Information »

FYSE 1365 - Soc Entrepreneurship-Justice      

Social Entrepreneurship and Social Justice
What is social entrepreneurship? What is social justice? How do these ideals complement each other? In this seminar we will study the theory and practice of social entrepreneurship and apply what we learn to issues related to the development of societal solutions to large-scale: poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability, and expansion of human rights. Students will undertake research projects on how to implement a specific solution, based on their own ideals and interests, in collaboration with the Middlebury Center for Social Entrepreneurship. 3 hrs. sem.


Fall 2012

More Information »

INTD 0500 - Independent Study      

Independent Study
Approval Required

Winter 2012, Winter 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015

More Information »

INTD 1074 - MiddCORE 2015      

MiddCORE 2014
MiddCORE’s mentor-driven leadership and innovation immersion program builds skills and confidence through collaborative, experiential, impact-focused learning. Through daily, weekly, and month-long challenges, students gain experience in leadership, strategic thinking, idea creation, collaboration, persuasive communication, ethical decision-making, conflict resolution, and crisis management. Visit www.middcore.com to learn more. Acceptance into MiddCORE 2014 is by approval only. Please send an email to middcore@middlebury.edu by 5pm on Saturday, Nov. 2nd with the following information: Name, Class Year, Major, and a brief paragraph explaining why you want to be in MiddCORE. Decisions will be emailed by Sunday evening, Nov 3rd. (Pass/Fail)

non-standard grade WTR

Winter 2015

More Information »

INTD 1122 - Social Entrepreneurship      

Social Entrepreneurship in the Liberal Arts
What are the goals of the liberal arts? What is social entrepreneurship? In this challenging new century, can these two ideals be complements or are they at odds? In this course we will first examine the two-and-a-half millennium history of the liberal arts, asking how ideals rooted in the classical Greek tradition still have meaning in the 21st Century. We will then study the recent history of social entrepreneurship, in theory and in practice. Students will conduct their own research with assistance from the Center for Social Entrepreneurship. (Approval Required; Pass/Fail)

non-standard grade SOC WTR

Winter 2012, Winter 2013, Winter 2014

More Information »

IPEC 0700 - Intl.Pol.&Economics SR. Thesis      

Senior Thesis
(Approval Required)

Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016

More Information »