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Greetings from the Dean and Director

Greetings from the Dean and Director

July 9, 2014

From the Dean of Environmental Affairs

Another academic year has come and gone, but the Franklin Environmental Center at Hillcrest is still a flurry of activity this summer with the new School of the Environment in its first session. 

But first, let me share some of the hard work and accomplishments of our students, faculty, and staff from this past year with you—our alumni, parents, and friends. Inside this newsletter you will find research highlights, an update on the College’s ambitious lands inventory, and a recap of writer Gary Nabhan’s visit to Middlebury as the Franklin Center’s third annual Environmentalist-in-Residence.

In recent months, we’ve completed a rigorous process of visioning and reflection designed to answer the question, “What should environmental and sustainability education look like in the 21st century?” We also had the honor of hosting the U.S. Energy Summit and welcoming to our campus Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, Representative Peter Welch, Senators Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy, and Governor Peter Shumlin. 

While our undergraduates have bid us adieu until September, many to pursue research opportunities and/or internships, we’ve said hello to a new group of thinkers, activists, and tinkerers—the students of our inaugural School of the Environment. Aimed at junior and senior undergraduate students, this six-week summer program combines leadership training with laboratory work and field studies to comprehensively explore the nuances of environmental issues.

At our Ripton campus, writers and editors joined us in June for the first annual Bread Loaf Orion Environmental Writers’ Conference, the newest addition to the esteemed Bread Loaf Conferences. We’re excited that two of our faculty members were able to audit the conference—Professor of Psychology Michelle McCauley and Associate Professor of Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Environmental Studies Molly Costanza-Robinson—and thrilled that three students were accepted to attend—Kari Nielsen ’13.5, Katie Michels ’14.5, and Anna Mullen ’15. We look forward to hearing about their experiences!

As always, we love to hear from you. Stay connected to Middlebury’s environmental community through our website, where you’ll find news about upcoming lectures and residencies, as well as on our Facebook page, where you can share stories, photos, and announcements of your own.

—Nan Jenks-Jay

From the ES Program Director

2013-14 was a notable year for Middlebury’s Environmental Studies Program. Over the course of the year, we led a hiring process for the first tenure-track faculty with a 100 percent appointment to ES. As a result of this search, we are thrilled to welcome Mez Baker-Medard, Ph.D (University of California at Berkeley), to Middlebury. As of the fall, Dr. Baker-Medard will teach courses related to pressing global and domestic issues in environmental studies. “My research broadly explores how different natural resource governance strategies influence conflict arising at the interface of extractive industry and biodiversity conservation,” she explained recently. “I am especially interested in how the benefits and burdens of these conflicts are spread across different sectors of society in relation to gender, race, class, and nationality.”  

Environmental Studies also underwent an external review from four highly regarded scholars in the field. As a result, we are launching a systematic review of our curriculum, governance, and the student experience. Incoming Environmental Studies Director Molly Costanza-Robinson will lead this charge, working alongside her faculty colleagues as well as staff in the Office of Environmental Affairs.

—Jonathan Isham