If you can’t get here in person, take a look at some of these informative resources to get a sense of the Middlebury College campus.

What Does the Liberal Arts Look Like?

With 47 departments and programs—and more courses than you can imagine—there’s plenty to choose from.

Explore Middlebury: Academic Life

A liberal arts education is definitely valuable, no matter if you're gonna go and be a molecular biologist or a politician.
t opens up your mind to some bigger things.
It's really a self, it's a journey learning about yourself. I think I was looking for a place that I knew I could go and study and not be the anomaly.

Most students here really care about what they're working on. My name is Anne Runkel, I'm from Helena Montana, and I'm a biology major and I'm studying the genetics behind infertility to better understand the genetics behind planet phytochemistry. I wanted to go to a school that I knew I would be challenged at, and I knew that I could study political science, and read great works of literature.

My struggle was really in finding a place that had an outstanding science curriculum as well, and Middlebury absolutely is all of those things. I have been able to take really profoundly interesting courses that are so different from my science courses that it stretches my brain. Italian Renaissance Art, and one called Gender in Japan.

History of Islam in the Middle East since 1453.
Chinese Politics, Eastern European Politics.
Newtonian Physics course
Acting to theater history.
The stuff that you learn in an English class applies to a chemistry class and vice versa.
You can't just think about your particular area of study in isolation.

Some of the classes that I took at Middlebury have allowed me to see problem solving from a couple different perspectives. But most importantly, the ability for me to apply my research to the real world so that it has value and application as opposed to just doing science in the lab.

 

Diversity and Inclusivity

The world is full of people from all walks of life, and we strive to reflect that on campus.

Anderson Freeman Resource Center

The Anderson Freeman Resource Center is a new place on campus for students of a wide variety of backgrounds that are generally underrepresented in higher education. We hope to create a home for students, domestic students of color, international students, LGBTQ students, first generation students, all are welcome to make use of the resources of the center.

This is seen as a necessary space. I think for a lot of students, the SMP Resource Center can really make the difference between staying, and not only staying but thriving, and from leaving, and really it can make that much of a difference.
We have counseling hours available.

We have a library we have lots of study spaces.
The center has so far been very successful for students because it was made with students in mind.
Most of our diversity initiatives at Middlebury came from student activism, likewise the center came from student activism. So we cannot honor where we are without honoring what students have done to put us in these positions right now.

We have a whole series of regular events that help to make people claim Middlebury who might be lost when they first arrived.
I walk in every day and I feel warm. I feel warmth. Students are excited to be here. They are finding each other, and they're finding us, the staff and the faculty in the building.

But more importantly as they find each other, that's where they're starting to build the communities with each other, and across groups, and across identity groups especially.

 

Carbon Neutral Campus

We pledged to be carbon neutral by 2016, and we celebrated that goal with pride.

Middlebury’s Carbon Neutrality Story

The goal to become carbon neutral started in 2007. It followed on the heels of an earlier goal that was set in 2004. And when it looked like that goal was going to be achieved, because the trustees approved funding for the biomass plant, students went to Ron Liebowitz, the President of the college of the time, and said we should have a new goal.

Our new goal should be neutral by 2016. Ron was impressed enough with the students arguments that he said, I'll give you 20 minutes in the next trustees meeting, you better be prepared.
And he guided them a bit about things to be ready for. And he said, I said to the students, there's one board member who will ask you the first question.

And the first question will be, what if we don't get there, and how will we deal with that? And so the students made their presentation, and the board member put his or her hand up and said, so what happens if we don't make it? And the student having had a little bit of guidance, a little of anticipation, Ron mentioned he was really proud of this, said that we actually haven't figured that out yet.

I completely remember feeling really intimidated and unprepared. And what do we say, what do we do? And getting questions that I didn't know the answer to. And just needing to really be grounded in this is the right thing. At the end of the day, this is the right thing to do.

And the mechanics of how it gets done, and the timeline, and all these variables that have to be negotiated by people who know the technical details, leave that piece to them. But our role as students was making a moral demand that here is Middlebury, this strong leader in sustainability, and here is a very obvious and concrete step the college can take.

And we wanted the college to do it. And I think that's, for student organizers, that is your power.
The trustees essentially said, we're interested but came back to us in February, and show us how we're gonna do it.
There was a deep belief that figuring out a way to get to carbon neutrality was exactly how we wanted to be positioned.

But the idea that we didn't quite know how we were gonna get there was obviously the hurdle.
At that point they formed a subcommittee of these students, and some people from the board, and the college, who worked on that question, and essentially came back and said look, if we don't do anything more than biomass, we could get to carbon neutrality by buying somebody else's offsets.

We don't wanna do that, but if we did, here's the risk, and it was about $200,000 a year. The trustees said well, we could be comfortable with taking that risk. And that's when they adopted the goal to become carbon neutral by 2016.
Because we were an early innovator, the learning curve was steep.

Because we decided that this at the beginning would be inclusive and participatory process, that always makes the process longer and more complex. It also improves it significantly. Ultimately, we got the carbon neutrality through two major steps. One was we switched our fuels primarily to wood chips and biomass to heat and power the campus.

Now the second thing we did is we permanently conserved 2,100 acres of forest land.
By preserving the Bread Loaf Lands last year, will be credited towards our carbon reduction, instead of buying carbon credits somewhere else.
Along the way, there were dozens of things that we looked at and tried.

We had to really spend a lot of time figuring out how to make the biomass plant work well. Today, it works really well. It works better than the manufacturers specifications for it.
The biomass plant came online in late 2008, and the intent, the original design intent of the biomass plant was to displace half of that number six oil, a million gallons a year.

With 20,000 tons of locally sourced renewable wood chips.
So the actual operation plant had a bumpy first year. There were a lot of technical obstacles we worked through. But by about 2010, we'd shattered those barriers, the plant was up and running. We'd reached our goal of 20,000 tons a year.

And as I reflect back now through those times, I mean last year nearly 24,000 tons of wood chips, only 600,000 gallons of number six oil received. So it's really moved forward.
So here we are today, we're carbon neutral by virtue of having switched our fuel to biomass, done efficiency projects invested in renewables.

And we've conserved 2,100 acres of land to do that. And I think in the process we've created our own internal form of offsets. We've done this by taking advantage of the assets, and the resources we have within the college to do it. And I think we can be really proud of the way we've gotten there.

When you look at the past decade that we've been talking about this, you really see that although individuals have changed, and students have come and gone, the commitment, and the methodology to embed this decision making process, and higher learning, and in problem solving, is that's the golden nugget.

An awful lot of carbon neutrality is definitional. If by some definitions, there's plenty of work still to do.
What else is out there? What else can we do to continuously push the envelope? I think our success is due to, we don't stop. We, new students, staff, faculty, the facilities, the operations of the plant, always looking to push the envelope.

For us, it gave us this experience of leadership, and asking for something of the President and getting the answer that we wanted. Which for when you're getting involved in activism, that's kinda the best thing you could hope for, is that through your work the decision maker says yes to what you're asking.

And so I think that helped make a whole generation of Middlebury students really active leaders on the climate movement.
We've created a pathway that other institutions can learn from. And I think it demonstrates that an institution can really do something on its own to contribute solutions to this problem.

As I've experienced this community, we can do almost anything creatively if we put our mind to it. Particularly when it comes to environmental goals, and environmental ethics. So I'm delighted that we are as an institution now thinking about next steps beyond carbon neutrality. And I want everyone to stay tuned as to what we do for the future.

I really believe that carbon neutrality is a continuum that we're on. And it's just part of something more that we're going to be doing. That it is a place that became catalytic, and brought this community together at its very best. While this seems like a milestone, and an endpoint, it's not at all.

We're probably in infancy of what Middlebury is gonna be doing. And that's even more exciting.