An environmental justice major has been awarded a $10,000 Projects for Peace grant to conduct artistic workshops focused on sustainable conflict transformation techniques.

Hannah Ennis ’23.5 will focus her work on the discord surrounding endangered wetlands in Valdivia, Chile. In her grant proposal titled “Arts Integration for Social-Environmental Transformation of Wetland Communities,” Ennis notes that Valdivia, where she spent her junior year, is built within an extensive and fragile wetland ecosystem.

Hannah Ennis
Hannah Ennis

“These endangered ecosystems are caught in disputes between opposing interests for land use,” Ennis explained. “They are at risk of being filled in for urban development projects or drained entirely for agricultural or forestry usage.”

Art as a Form of Conflict Resolution

While studying in Chile, Ennis worked with the Center for the Wetlands, the only organization in the country focused on wetlands. She joined a team investigating the intersection between community action, urban wetlands, and the potential impact of social-ecological transformation.

“The team is working to foster individual and collective agency to build momentum for action and deliberate change,” Ennis explained. “This project will train and prepare facilitators who will continue the work.”

Ennis has designed her workshops to integrate dance—including embodied movement—as a form of conflict resolution, specifically to address wetland use.

“My project aims to bridge connections between communities, to bring people together who are geographically centered around similar conflicts but may be fragmented in their viewpoints to the issue,” Ennis explained.

Heather Neuwirth Lovejoy ’08, director of Middlebury’s Innovation Hub, who was part of the Projects for Peace grant selection committee, explained what made Ennis’s proposal stand out.

“Hannah’s proposal brings together her personal interests, a diverse array of her educational experiences, sustained work, and deep connections with community partners,” Lovejoy said. “This project shows how Hannah has made meaning from her time at Middlebury and beyond to address environmental issues.”

Ennis said her background in both the sciences and arts prepared her for this project.

“All of my studies at Middlebury led into this work,” she said. “I am majoring in environmental justice, which has greatly informed my understanding of human relations to the environment to be rooted in equity, reciprocity, and addressing systems of oppression. Additionally, I have spent much of my time at Middlebury in the Dance Department, where I have gained important skills through exploring embodiment practices, facilitation, and working in an ensemble.”

Projects for Peace

Projects for Peace is a global program that encourages young adults to develop innovative responses to the world’s most pressing issues. It awards grants in the amount of $10,000 each to implement a Project for Peace anywhere in the world, typically over summer break.

Since its founding in 2007, the organization has funded more than 2,000 projects, which are nominated by partner colleges and universities. Projects may be led by an individual or by a group of students. This summer Projects for Peace will take place in more than 67 countries and 21 different U.S. states. 

Founded by Kathryn W. Davis on the occasion of her 100th birthday, the initiative began by supporting 100 Projects for Peace, designed “to bring about a mindset of preparing for peace, instead of preparing for war.”