The Middlebury Institute is a professional graduate school. So our commitment to our students is of a high level of rigor. We struggle with big problems like ocean degradation, and climate change, and global poverty, and approaches to solving it. These are not easy problems, so they require people who have a creative and practical approach.
I can’t imagine any other program which is as comprehensive in terms of the range of courses offered but also in the material that is covered. That is a testament to the degree to which we really offer such an in-depth education to students.
It is a very practical environment. We prepare the students for the professional world, so I play the role of a facilitator in the classroom, encouraging them to lead and to make the class time theirs.
What I really want students to be able to do is to take something that they haven’t seen and be able to come up with a workflow to go through that project.
For me it’s a big reveal to see what decisions they’ve made, and in many cases had to learn things that I haven’t taught them.
I don’t want to look at my students just as a student. I wanna look at them as a human being. And I wanna get away from those roles as much as possible.
Because they already have experience, students hope to contribute, so what I try to do is I invite them to share their experience in the classroom. We learn from each other and we become friends, I mean, we become colleagues.
We don’t take anyone for granted, we don’t take our class sessions for granted. We expect students to challenge us with uncomfortable questions, so we are constantly on our toes. Which is great for us, because it makes us better teachers, better researchers.
There’s a lot of students here who you see take on PhD level investment in what they’re doing. And they go out and they take part in projects and apply their skills in ways they’re not required to, but they want to. And I know this happens in other institutions, but it happens a whole lot here.
Out students are drawn here because of our mission, because they are looking to engage with the world and solve problems. So it’s exciting, it’s exciting because I feel like I, too, am being pressed regularly to figure out what to do, and how to approach these big problems of the world.