Click image to enlarge

Gillian Lui ’13, Maya von Wodtke ’13, and Lauren Yang ’13.

Middlebury students present Sustainable Study Abroad Grant projects

April 23, 2013

On Monday, Sustainable Study Abroad Grant recipients from Spring 2012 including Gillian Lui ’13, Maya von Wodtke ’13, and Lauren Yang ’13 presented their projects at the Rohatyn Center for International Affairs.

Lui completed her project entitled "Photographic Representations of Environmental Values Among China’s Youth" during a semester studying at the Middlebury School in China (Kunming). By analyzing photographs taken by Chinese university students, Lui explored how Chinese youth view environmental issues and how these perspectives vary across different social and geological contexts.

von Wodtke also explored the question regarding how people perceive their environment and relationship to it in her project, "Conservation of Concón Wetlands". By involving the community in a clean-up, restoration, and enclosure of the wetlands, von Wodtke strived to generate awareness about the ecosystems and foster connections to the environment, while learning about the importance of collaborating with students and community members and working with a local municipality.

The final project spanned two semesters abroad in two different continents. Yang conducted research for her project, "Smart Cities-- What a Growing Monolith can learn from Copenhagen" while studying at the Middlebury School in China followed by the Danish Institute for Study Abroad. Throughout her travels Yang documented various examples of smart cities, which resulted in a final film project featuring her experiences and observations.

Questions and discussions following the talks highlighted a sense of optimism found throughout the projects regarding environmental problems at home and abroad. Students presented issues while demonstrating thoughtful reflection and solutions as seen through charts, videos, and photographs. In addition, presenters emphasized the relevance these grants still give to their courses, which reach across academic disciplines. Nan Jenks-Jay, dean of Environmental Affairs at Middlebury College stated in response to presentations, “It’s always fascinating to hear from students about their self designed, sustainability research and projects while studying abroad, but even more heartening to see these experiences informing their studies back at Middlebury.”

Sustainable Study Abroad Grants, co-sponsored by International Programs and Off-Campus Study and Environmental Affairs, award up to $500 to students studying abroad through Middlebury College. Grants fund research projects or participation in events or projects related to sustainability issues.  To read more about these projects and past Sustainability Grants visit


Franklin Environmental Center at Hillcrest

531 College Street
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753