MIDDLEBURY, Vt. ? Middlebury College President Ronald D. Liebowitz announced today the establishment of the Middlebury College Fellowships in Environmental Journalism, a program designed to support intensive, year-long reporting about environmental issues by journalists at the start of their careers.

Funded by an anonymous gift of $1.5 million, the program will annually select 10 journalists - two of whom will be Middlebury College seniors whose projects will contribute to senior work for the baccalaureate degree - and work with them to report and produce news stories for print, the internet and radio. Graduate Fellows will receive $10,000 for research expenses and participate in weeklong residencies at Middlebury College in the fall and at Monterey Institute of International Studies in the spring.

Middlebury College Scholar-in-Residence in Environmental Studies Bill McKibben will direct the program, which will begin in September 2007. He’ll be joined by Associate Director Christopher Shaw, former editor of Adirondack Life magazine and the author of “Sacred Monkey River,” a book about river issues in the Mexican rainforest.

Noting that Middlebury College has the oldest environmental studies program in the country and that Middlebury students are among the leaders of the student environmental movement, Liebowitz said, “This program builds on Middlebury’s acknowledged strength in environmental studies. Since journalism is a crucial part of the humanities in our age, this program is a natural extension of our mission to teach excellent communication skills to students, and one that will allow even more exchange between the campus and the broader world on issues of great importance.”

Nan Jenks-Jay, the college’s director of environmental affairs, called the new program one more facet of a widespread effort that includes building a sustainable campus and working with the college’s renowned international studies programs to build global awareness of environmental issues. “We understand that communication of successes and failures is at the root of environmental progress,” Jenks-Jay said.

Fellows in the program will be selected based on a letter outlining their project, according to McKibben, a veteran environmental journalist and former staff writer for the New Yorker, whose work appears regularly in magazines like Harpers, The New York Review of Books, The Atlantic Monthly and National Geographic. “We want projects big enough to stretch people, to make them more able journalists,” added Shaw. “The $10,000 stipend won’t be enough, obviously, to support someone for a year, but it should give them the time and resources for a powerful project.”

McKibben said the program would help find outlets for publishing the reporting projects. “We hope we’ll have interest from newly minted reporters and journalism school grads interested in the environment,” he said. “We’re also hopeful we’ll find people who are blogging or doing other kinds of web-based reporting, and help them broaden their work so it will fit into more conventional media.”

Interested applicants should visit www.middlebury.edu/administration/enviro/fellowship for more information.