| by Sierra Abukins

News Stories

Fulbright scholar Benit Mutombo (Mbiakolo) MAIEP ’24 carried the flag of her home country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, at the Middlebury Institute’s opening flag ceremony.

This fall, the Middlebury Institute welcomed 293 new students from 30 different countries. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be featuring a series with new students sharing how they came to the Institute and where they hope to go with their degrees.

Climate change is top of mind for all of Middlebury Institute’s incoming International Environmental Policy students, but they come with many different points of reference. Our planet is undergoing significant strain and stress. Incoming Middlebury Institute students have had the chance to see that firsthand in many different regions of the world.

Climate Change Concerns in the Congo

“I want to have an impact and work in something dynamic,” said Benit Mutombo (Mbiakolo) MAIEP ’24, a Fulbright scholar from Congo. “Climate change is a topic that the world is concerned about, no matter what country we are coming from, and there are not a lot of experts where I come from,” she said.

Congo depends heavily upon natural reserves extraction; is home to the second largest forest in the world, which is a strategic environmental resource for the whole planet; and also has critical fisheries that are under stress.

“People aren’t able to fight climate change unless they know where to start and how to negotiate,” she said. “We need to diversify our economy and it is absolutely possible.”

Changing Conditions in Antarctica

Her classmate, Libby Mohn MAIEP ’24, has had a different region on her mind lately—Antarctica. Over the summer, she had the unique chance to travel there with the 2041 Foundation, so named because that year is when nations will gather to revisit the current moratorium on mining in the Antarctic.

Libby Mohn
Libby Mohn had the opportunity to go on an expedition to Antarctica in the summer before beginning her International Environmental Policy degree at the Middlebury Institute.

“One of my career goals is to be a part of those conversations,” said Mohn, who got accepted to both the Middlebury Institute and the expedition in one whirlwind week.

She was initially looking at graduate schools “anywhere but the U.S.,” until she found the Institute.

“I got that emotional upwelling. This is the right place—an international school, focused on intercultural competency, with not only an environmental program focused on the social sciences, but a specific ocean concentration, and it’s in Monterey.”

Read Libby’s reflections on her trip to Antarctica.