I’m delighted to be a part of our latest graduate program, designed to prepare students for the urgent work of creating communities that are more resilient, ecologically sustainable, and socially just.
I’ve spent much of my adult life working as an activist and community organizer, even living for a number of years in intentional communities. As the first director of our MS in Environmental Studies, I introduced our bioregional approach to online education: the transformation of our communities must be informed by a deep understanding of the ecological and cultural characteristics of the places we call home.
While we were designing the MRSC program, however, there came a moment when I had to question whether I was the right person to direct it. I was taking advantage of a four-hour airport delay to catch up on a folder full of articles, most of them projecting the troubling consequences of climate change and resource scarcity. As the father of a five-year-old son, it was all I could do to keep from sinking into despair!
Soon enough, though, I realized how much we need optimists to help answer the questions that will define the 21st century: What will our cities and towns look like in fifty years? How will they ensure that everyone has access to clean water, to wholesome food? What technology will power our lights, our keyboards, our phones? What yet unimagined jobs will be waiting for my son?
As we leave behind the old industrial models on our way to more resilient and sustainable communities, many of the new models will come from minds that are collaborative, playful, and digitally connected. The least we can do, in preparing a space to learn and dream and lay great plans, is to surround that space with hope, not despair.
I hope that you will join us on this great adventure!
MRSC Program Director