Fieldwork is an essential component of the summer program.

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – The Middlebury School of the Environment – a six-week summer program that combines courses in environmental studies with leadership training and field experiences – will open for its fourth summer here on Friday, June 23.

Stephen C. Trombulak, director of the School and professor of environmental and biosphere studies, said this summer’s 25 students will spend a week in Washington D.C. working with Frank Sesno ’77 and the staff of Planet Forward at George Washington University “to explore what it really means to engage with environmental leadership in a time of political challenge,” he explained.

“We are all very excited about this summer’s session of the Middlebury School of the Environment. With respect to the environmental future of the planet, the stakes have never been higher, and the MSoE students this summer will experience the professional realities in shaping that future, and thereby shaping their own.”

Professor Sesno is an Emmy award-winning journalist and former anchor at CNN who directs GW’s School of Media and Public Affairs. The founder of Planet Forward, Sesno also serves on the Middlebury Board of Trustees.

The School of the Environment’s core courses and electives combine practical-skill development and interdisciplinary engagement with an integrated leadership training program. In addition to taking three summer-long courses for college credit, each student participates in a co-curricular suite of workshops and conversations designed to build leadership skills around group collaboration, public speaking, and an appreciation for diversity in its numerous forms.

While in Washington, the students will meet in-service leaders at non-profits, government agencies, and international organizations, and will visit their offices and talk to their staffs to gain first-hand knowledge.

This summer’s program will “confront the question, ‘How can you lead in a time of change?’” said Trombulak. “The political transitions we see in the U.S. today call upon all of us to recognize that leadership and strategies for environmental engagement must be responsive to dynamic political and cultural environments, and the question of how to lead in a time of change will frame our entire program this summer.”

While in the Nation’s Capital, the students and faculty will live at GW’s Mt. Vernon campus. The School will also make full use of the Middlebury in D.C. offices on K Street, including a reception for the MSoE students with area alumni involved in environmental affairs.

In Vermont the students will concentrate on their coursework while engaging in local field trips and hearing from guest presenters on campus. This summer’s speakers will include environmentalist Bill McKibben, the founder of and the Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College, and organic farmer and author Peter Forbes of Knoll Farm in nearby Fayston, Vt.

The summer session of the School of the Environment will run through Friday, August 4.