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Middlebury to Launch School of the Environment in 2014

July 15, 2013

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. — Middlebury College will extend its record of innovation and leadership in environmental education when it opens the new School of the Environment next summer in Vermont. The six-week, credit-bearing program for undergraduates will emphasize hands-on experience in the context of an interdisciplinary approach to environmental studies.

Approved by the Middlebury board of trustees at its May meeting, the new school fulfills a long-held vision of Stephen C. Trombulak, a Middlebury professor of environmental and biosphere studies, who will be the school's first director. Trombulak initially raised the idea of a summer program dedicated to environmental studies in the late 1990s. Recently, Nan Jenks-Jay, dean of environmental affairs, believed the time was right to reintroduce the idea of broadening the scope and reach of its programming in environmental education.

"I'm extremely excited to see this initiative finally coming to life," Trombulak said. "The school has the potential to make major contributions not only to the college's environmental curriculum overall but also to training the next generation of leaders who will help solve the problems that all of society faces."

The School of the Environment initially will be open to rising juniors and seniors from any undergraduate institution who have engaged in some study of the environment and who have completed at least one college-level lab course.

Students enrolling in the inaugural session (June 20 to Aug. 1, 2014) will take three integrated courses: interdisciplinary field study, a skills-based practicum and an advanced elective with an international and global emphasis. The three courses will share connecting themes, tools, strategies and faculty, as well as mentors, visiting scholars and practitioners.

An emphasis will be on linking skills associated with leadership and innovative problem solving with a solid grounding in the principles and concepts of environmental studies.

"We will seek to uncover and implement solutions that are demanded by the critical environmental problems we face today," said Trombulak. "The school will aim to train the next generation of leaders in all sectors of society — government, business and social enterprise — to successfully address the environmental challenges of our time."

Middlebury, which established the country's first environmental studies program in 1965, will launch and nurture the School of the Environment at its Vermont campus, but ultimately plans to move the school to a different location to accommodate a growing enrollment and greater diversify within the curriculum. "There are many exciting possibilities," Trombulak said. "We could establish a campus in a city to explore issues associated with urban studies, or hold the school in a coastal region to explore curricula associated with marine studies."

The cost of the program (tuition, room and board, and fees) has yet to be announced, and financial aid will be offered based on need. For more information about the School of the Environment, contact Prof. Stephen Trombulak at

Reporting by Robert Keren