Middlebury College’s Global Partnerships for Sustainability program is creating opportunities for students to leave a sustainability legacy in the countries where they study.
Global Partnerships for Sustainability (GPS) develops long-term partnerships between Middlebury’s C.V. Starr Schools Abroad and in-country organizations working on sustainability-related issues. GPS creates opportunities for successive cohorts of students to advance the work of partner organizations and their sustainability agendas.
Through involvement in GPS, students gain significantly greater understanding and proficiency in the language and culture and contribute to a more sustainable future for their host country. The GPS is a collaborative effort between Middlebury C.V. Starr Schools Abroad and the Office of Sustainability and Environmental Affairs.
Existing and Developing Projects
GPS programs are in progress at Middlebury Schools Abroad in Chamonix, France; Heqing, China; Tierra del Fuego, Chile; and Chizu, Japan.
We are excited about a new Global Partnerships for Sustainability program in France launched in Spring ‘22. Environmental Affairs and the Middlebury School in France partnered with the CREA Mont Blanc research center in Chamonix to offer a pilot program for students from the Poitiers site.
Over five-days in late April, four students immersed themselves in the challenges emerging from climate change in this vast alpine region. They field tested new citizen science tools CREA is developing to help assess and address these challenges. They were joined by alum Warren Galloway ’21 who was teaching at an elementary school in France. Warren had done an earlier GPS internship with Anna Saviano ‘23 through our Sustainability Solutions Lab while at Midd to produce a story map about a CREA research paper. David Paoli, director of the School in France, and our dean of sustainability and environmental affairs Jack Byrne also participated.
The group worked with Brad Carlson ‘10 and Hillary Gerardi ‘09 of CREA - both Midd alums and Vermonters living in France for the past 11 years. They explored alpine ecology in the northern Alps and how climate change is altering it and the human and economic consequences. They hiked and snowshoed up to a mountain hut (Refuge du Pres) where they worked for 3 days with the staff of CREA.
The students tested CREA’s new adaptive monitoring protocol for citizen scientists. They defined research questions about the surrounding environment and developed key elements of the protocol for their questions. They presented their results to a team from CREA and received critical feedback. The CREA team found the students work very helpful and have incorporated their feedback in a new version of the protocol.
We are eager to move this pilot forward in the Spring of 2023. Next steps include creating a course at the School in France that the CREA folks could team teach to prepare students for a week of hands on work in Chamonix. It may include an additional track to provide alternatives for students who might prefer an alternative to the more physical aspect of hiking into the mountains and snow to do field work which would involve historical and other research in the archives in Chamonix and the surround region.
The program is also exploring ideas about how this project could connect with Midd’s new conflict transformation initiative, particularly around climate related policy and decision-making goals CREA is pursuing.
In Kunming, China, students and partners at The Nature Conservancy of China, Shelburne Farms, and Yunnan University School of Ecology and Environmental Science collaborate on the development of wetland outreach and education capacity in Heqing, China. They also learn firsthand about efforts to protect Yunnan’s endangered snub-nosed monkeys. Please note that the Kunming GPS program is transitioning to a new partner and program focus (to be determined in the near future).
Students at the C.V. Starr School Abroad in Chile are working with Universidad Austral de Chile and GPS partners at the Wildlife Conservation Society to support the development of the Karukinka Natural Park in Tierra del Fuego and the University of the Frontier in Temuco to study sustainability in the context of rural communities and the problems experienced by indigenous people.
Students in Japan are working with Tottori University of Environmental Studies and the town of Chizu to support the development of strategies for sustainable economic development and the revitalization of aging, depopulating rural areas. A second site and partnership has been established in Tenryu, Japan, with a local tea plantation and community center focused on a similar theme. A summer internship there has also been created.
More on Sustainability Abroad
For more tips, tricks, and opportunities to make your study abroad experience as sustainable as possible, check out the Sustainable Study Abroad website which includes options for sustainability-focused programs, sustainability grants, and tips for sustainable travel, amongst other great resources!
For more information about participating in the Global Partnerships for Sustainability projects at a Middlebury College C.V. Starr Schools Abroad, contact Jack Byrne, dean of sustainability and environmental affairs, at email@example.com.