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Franklin Environmental Center

Franklin Environmental Center

photo of franklin center at hillcrest Housed in Vermont’s first LEED Platinum-certified building, the Janet Halstead Franklin ’72 and Churchill G. Franklin ’71 Environmental Center at Hillcrest serves as a hub of environmental and sustainable action and ideas.

Our Mission

Drawing on Middlebury’s foundational strengths—innovation, research, and the liberal arts—the Franklin Environmental Center seeks to shape a world in which humans, ecological communities, and economic systems can sustainably coexist. The Center engages students, faculty, and staff with emerging environmental challenges and creative, sustainable solutions; supports education and promotes the transference of teaching and learning beyond the classroom; and convenes discussions with diverse audiences on campus and beyond.


Every year, the center invites one of today’s preeminent environmental thinkers, innovators, entrepreneurs, or visionaries from across industries to participate in a short residency on campus and create an intellectual ecosystem for ideas and knowledge to flow freely.

Each residency entails two to three days of conversation, classroom visits, informal discussions, and a keynote lecture. Residents may drop in on an environmental literature seminar, conduct an industry Q&A for student entrepreneurs, or discuss climate policy with faculty members and others over dinner.

In turn, residents become lifelong ambassadors for Middlebury. They help connect students with professional networks in meaningful ways and broaden students’ exposure to and relationships with experts in the field.

Recent Residents:
2011 - Gary Hirshberg, Stonyfield Yogurt founder 
2013 - Mark Tercek, Nature Conservancy CEO
2014 - Gary Nabhan, noted author, farmer and seed saving advocate
2015 - Van Jones, CNN correspondent, bestselling author, founder and president of Dream Corps
2016 - Carolyn Finney, professor in Geography at University of Kentucky, cultural competency consultant and author of Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors
2017 – Mike McGinn P ’20, Former Mayor, City of Seattle (2010 - 2014)
2018 – Katharine Hayhoe, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech, Texas Tech University

Global Partnerships for Sustainability in Study Abroad

These study abroad programs are centered on sustainability-related programming and are currently being tested in pilot projects in Japan, China, Chile and Russia. Several Schools Abroad directors introduced the idea, which was developed collaboratively by the center, the Office of Sustainability Integration, and several departments on campus. Goals include increasing the capacity of Middlebury and host faculty to learn and teach about culture, environment, language, and society as viewed through a sustainability lens, as well as providing applied learning experiences.

The Franklin Environmental Center Fellowship Program

This initiative is designed to strengthen programming at the center and integrate environmental research, projects, and activities by engaging faculty, staff, community partners, and friends within the U.S. and abroad.


franklin center at hillcrest symposia photo Regular symposia hosted by the center focus on complex emerging issues and spark discussion around pressing environmental challenges. These gatherings serve as an open platform for community interest, engagement, and innovation, and often feature issues related to faculty research, class themes, or topics regarding sustainability and stewardship. By offering virtual access to participants worldwide, the symposia serve as a forum to a diverse set of people related to the environment and sustainability.

Recent Events:
2014—Stone Soup Summit, with the Vermont Farm to School Network
2013—Water Conference, with the Vermont Environmental Consortium


The center is directed by Nan Jenks-Jay, dean of environmental affairs
 and professor of environmental studies. She assumed the role in July 2015 and works to advance the College’s environmental initiatives and academic programs, and to foster an integrated institutional vision for sustainability.

Photo of Nan Jenks-Jay For more than two decades she has been actively involved in the advancement of environmental studies programs, their transformation of higher education, and their impact on regional sustainability. She has worked as educator, field scientist, land trust founder, consultant, board member, and administrator. Her current areas of specialization include institutional culture and organizational change.

At Middlebury, she has created an integrated, institutional vision through strategic planning and implementation that has advanced the College’s already exemplary environmental academic program and award-winning sustainable campus programs to new heights.

Jenks-Jay has held appointments on state governmental boards and national committees and locally is a trustee for Shelburne Farms in Vermont. Additionally, she has served on external review committees for 11 college and university environmental programs. She has been an advisor to Orion Magazine, the New England Board of Higher Education, Project Kaleidoscope in Washington, D.C., the Nantucket Conservation Foundation, and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.


Middlebury College works hard to uphold our commitment to sustainability across the curriculum. Click here to view courses that include a sustainability component.Office spreadsheet iconSTARS Course Inventory Apr 2014 .xls