At Middlebury, sustainability is an integral part of how we teach, work, and play.

With innovative ideas from the campus community, a supportive administration, and the oldest undergraduate environmental studies program in the country, Middlebury provides a unique atmosphere to explore real-world problems. Located in the heart of campus and 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

The mission of the Franklin Environmental Center is to shape a world in which humans, ecological communities, and economic systems can sustainably coexist.

Drawing on Middlebury's foundational strengths—innovation, research, and the liberal arts—it guides the College’s environmental vision, carrying forward a long legacy of bold environmental thinking and action. 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. It nurtures partnerships that anticipate issues on campus and beyond, and addresses complex environmental challenges at local, regional, and global scales.

Recognizing the enormity of these challenges, the Center collaborates with an array of internal and external programs, and builds durable partnerships here and abroad. The Center leverages Middlebury’s network of alumni, parents, colleagues, and professionals to develop a rich array of educational experiences and opportunities that prepare our students to serve as resilient global leaders and instruments of change.

What we do

The Center collaborates with departments across the Middlebury enterprise to support a diverse array of environmental programming; promote sustainability initiatives; and engage students, faculty, and staff to identify innovative solutions to environmental challenges. 

Franklin Environmental Center Residencies

Each year, the Center invites a thought leader from any number of backgrounds—from business to nongovernmental organizations to the humanities—to participate in a short residency on our bucolic Vermont campus. The goal? Create an intellectual ecosystem where ideas and knowledge flow freely, where no question goes unasked.

Global Partnerships in Sustainable Study Abroad

This new collaboration between International Programs & Off-campus Study, Office of Sustainability Integration and the Franklin Environmental Center is in response to interest expressed by nine Middlebury CV Starr Schools Abroad directors in developing sustainability-related programming. Next year, Schools Abroad in Japan, China and Chile, will launch pilot projects to test and refine models for enhancing the study abroad experience of their students. Goals include strengthening 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 to providing applied learning experiences.

The Environmental Center Fellowship Program

This initiative is designed to strengthen programming at the Center and integrate environmental research, projects and activities across the institution by engaging faculty, staff, community partners, and friends within the United States and abroad.


Hosted by the Franklin Environmental Center, regular symposia 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. An ideal venue to collaborate with other College centers, programs, and departments, a symposium might focus on an issue related to a faculty member’s research, a class theme, or a topic regarding sustainability and stewardship. By offering virtual access to participants around the globe, both inside the Middlebury enterprise and beyond it, FEC symposia serve as a forum to a diverse set of actors related to the environment and sustainability.

Student leadership and exploration

The Franklin Environmental Center supports innovative individual and group student projects.

Bringing it all together

The Center serves as an institutional core, working with the Environmental Studies Program, School of the Environment, Bread Loaf Orion Environmental Writers’ Conference, Institute of International Studies at Monterey, Partnerships in Sustainable Study Abroad,​ and myriad​ other departments and programs to envision and support Middlebury’s environmental future. 


The Center is directed by Dean of Environmental Affairs Nan Jenks-Jay, who assumed the role in July 2015. 

The Center is guided by an interdisciplinary Advisory Council comprised of faculty, staff, and students, as well as by a Student Advisory Group. 

Interactive, real-time data for energy use and solar production in the Franklin Environmental Center

Franklin Environmental Center at Hillcrest

531 College Street
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753