Spend the winter and spring at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey learning from climate leaders at the graduate level.

Through this program, students have the chance to access the extraordinary resources of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS), which features a Master of Arts in International Environmental Policy, Center for the Blue Economy, and connections with hundreds of environmental and non-governmental organizations. 

Academic Structure

Students arrive in Monterey in January for orientation and the following Winter Term course.

ENVS 1049 Monterey Stories, Cultures, and Environments

In this course we will explore the complex dynamics of environmental history, cultural history, and marine conservation on the Monterey Peninsula and environs. Our major focus of study will be the relationships between climate, biophysical environment, and human civilization at key stages of the region’s modern development. We will read and discuss a variety of works by historians, novelists, poets, and scientists on the complex historical dynamics of different regional groups, from the indigenous inhabitants of the region to various settler groups. Emphasis will be placed on the twentieth-century historical context, when the sardine fishery and canneries competed for predominance with tourism. We will go on numerous field trips to such places as the Elkhorn Slough, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Point Lobos, and Asilomar Beach. Readings will include sections from the following books of local significance: The Death and Life of Monterey Bay, by Palumbi and Sotka, Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, Kroeber’s Ishi Between Two Worlds; Chiang’s Shaping the Shoreline; Ulanski’s The California Current, and Ricketts’ Between Pacific Tides. (This course is for students enrolled in the Middlebury Climate Semester Program (January-May) and will be taught on the Monterey campus.) (Approval Only) AMR, HIS, LIT

Instructor: Dan Brayton

When the spring semester begins at MIIS, students will take a full semester of courses, including two core courses:

1. Living in the Age of the Anthropocene

What does it mean to be living at a time when human activities have impacted the environment enough to constitute a distinct geological change? Using a systems-thinking approach, this course will examine the intersection of environmental science, policy, and resiliency. We will critically assess the planetary boundaries that make Earth habitable, where we have transgressed those boundaries, and examine points of intervention. A key facet of this course will be rooted in the tenet that we are not apart from nature; we are a part of nature. Many of the problems that we currently face in terms of sustainability and the environment lie at the juncture of nature and culture and are driven by separation and division. Throughout the semester, we will seek to bridge this disconnection with an emphasis on interconnectedness through place-based experiential learning, as well as resiliency efforts on both the global and local level. We will read such texts as Sherri Mitchell’s Sacred Instructions, Clare Leslie’s The Curious Nature Guide, and Katherine Hayhoe’s Saving Us, as well as excerpts from All We Can Save, edited by Johnson and Wilkerson, and Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore, by Elizabeth Rush. AMR

Instructor: Lauren Hanneman 

2. Marine Environmental History

Thoughtful, just, and effective conservation and management of coastal and open ocean marine environments require an understanding of the history of marine populations. In order to advocate for the restoration or conservation of Monterey Bay, for example, or analyze changes due to fishing, coastal development, and sea level rise, we need a baseline and a collective understanding of what we mean when we talk about a healthy marine ecosystem or discuss stewardship or “saving” a marine space. In this course we will explore how scholars across disciplines try to piece together historical baselines. As we examine historical fishing methods and how policies and technologies have influenced depletion or abundance, we will discuss which human communities have recorded marine environmental history and how we might ensure that Indigenous knowledge and the environmental expertise and long experience from marginalized communities have genuine voices in forward-thinking management by way of historical information. We will read such studies as The Unnatural History of the Sea, by Callum Roberts; The Mortal Ocean, by W. Jeffrey Bolster; and various article-length studies.


Instructor: Richard J. King

Students’ remaining credits will usually be made up of two courses within the existing IEP curriculum at MIIS. Students may replace one of these courses with either an elective course outside the IEP program focused on a related field such as security, development, or trade, an independent study/practicum, or a course taught at California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) in consultation with the program director.

The combined winter and spring terms will grant students a total of five units of Middlebury credit and up to 18 MIIS credits.*

*3-4 MIIS credits = 1 Middlebury College credit;
1 Middlebury College credit = 4 semester credits, for students from institutions on a semester credit system

Sample Electives

Note: this is not a comprehensive list. Use the course catalogue to find details about each elective from the International Environmental Policy degree program. 

IEPG 8507 Governing the Global Commons
IEPG 8591 Applied Conservation Science
IEPG 8606 Contemporary Environmental Campaign Strategy
IEPG 8625 Land Use Planning and Environmental Review
IEPG 8628 Corporate Sustainability Management and Strategy 
IEPG 8663 Ocean and Coastal Economics 
IEPG 9632 Advanced GIS 
IEPG 8609 Environmental Justice 
IEPG 8671 Renewable Energy & Policy 
IEPG 8608 Beyond Plastic: Business Innovation 
IEPG 8519 Foundations in Financial Management 
IEPG 8609 Conservation Finance


The program will take place from early January to mid-May. 

View the current MIIS calendar.

Get a head start on your master’s degree and a scholarship too

Apply your Study Away semester toward a master’s degree in the International Environmental Policy program at the Middlebury Institute. Talk with Ms. Toni Thomas, Associate Dean, about how these courses will apply toward your degree: tmthomas@middlebury.edu.

The Middlebury Institute guarantees $10,000 scholarships for alumni of any Middlebury degree program and their extended family members. Past participants in nondegree Middlebury programs like study abroad and the Language Schools are eligible for a $5,000 scholarship.

For more information on Admissions, Fees, and Housing, please return to the main Study Away page.

Get Started

Applications are due beginning February 1st

Apply Now


Contact Professor Dan Brayton with any questions.

Get in Touch

Study Abroad
Sunderland Language Center, First Floor
356 College Street
Middlebury, VT 05753