Trips abroad are a regular part of courses at Green Mountain College, typically at the end of a spring term or over the month-long winter break in December. The trips allow students to get out into the wild or foreign communities to experience first-hand what they've learned in the classroom, through excursions into the outdoors, sociological and anthropological research, or scientific study. Click on any image to see photo albums of a trip.
Culture & Environment
For three weeks during their 2013-14 winter break, 13 Green Mountain College students got to explore the cultural and environmental diversity of Nepal. The group, led by anthropology professor Mark Dailey and Vice President of Student Life Joe Petrick, explored the old medieval kingdoms of the Kathmandu Valley, the beautiful upland Annapurna region with its views of the Himalayas, and the dynamic environments and lives of the lowland Terai region.
Students prepared for the international experience by reading and discussing anthropological writings about Nepal during the fall term, left the day after Christmas, and then spent the next three weeks interacting with a variety of local people and environments. Along the way, they learned about ethnic politics, conservation and indigenous people, llocal agriculture and food, everyday religious practice, contemporary forms of yoga, and cultural tourism and rural development.
Whether sipping morning tea at eye level with the tops of clouds, recovering from a hike in the Chitwan National Forest, or sitting underneath the carved eaves of Bhaktapur's medieval temples, students spent much of their free time writing in their anthropological field journals--and exploring off the beaten path with a variety of local people, especially the Tharu, Gurung, Magar and Newari people.
Thailand Research Excursion
Four Green Mountain College students spent three weeks in the summer of 2013 in Thailand, studying under the tutelage of prof. Sam Edwards (environmental studies and pre-law). Each student selected an area of research: water policy, forestry policy, agricultural policy, and citizen participation in environmental policy-making. The students gained a background understanding of Thailand’s policies, preparing them for field interviews with the top NGOs, government officials, academics, and religious figures in Thailand. The team also partnered with law students from Thammsat University, one of Thailand’s top law schools. According to their abstract: "Initial results indicate that Thailand’s environmental development is a complex story with many strong points and challenges, similar to those in the U.S. Of particular note is the strength of civil society in Thailand where NGOs play an essential role in representing the interests of various stakeholders including those of the ethnic ‘Hill Tribes.’ The strength of NGOs coupled with a strong judiciary are aspects that can serve as a model for other countries seeking similar environmental development.” To read summaries of independent research conducted by Kristen Friedel, Titania Green, Luz Guel and Nick Ravotti, read this story from the Asia Network website.
Students Explore Morocco during Winter Break
Over winter break December 27-January 11, a handful of prof. Mary Jane Maxwell’s history students escaped the biting cold of Vermont to Morocco to experience first-hand the culture and history they had explored together in the classroom. Led by prof. Maxwell and adjunct history prof. Andrew Duffin, students in the class Morocco: Arab, European, and Berber Fusion traveled the breadth of the northern African country, including its dense cities, high mountains and the remote Sahara desert. After landing in Casablanca on December 27th, the group began its journey in the historic city of Marrakech, and witnessed the mélange of old and new traditions. Before the conclusion of the fall semester, each student completed an in-depth project on an aspect of Morocco’s history and culture. While in the country, students presented their research at places that related to their topic. By the time the students ended their journey in Fes they had experienced an intensive introduction to Moroccan culture which included exploring the city of Marrakech, riding camels into the Sahara and stopping for lunch at an oasis, and getting fitted with jilbabs in Fes.
See a video of the trip produced by Mike Magnotta '13 here.
Block course in the Italian Alps
A contingent of GMC students, led by prof. Steve Fesmire (philosophy), are taking part in an intensive 17-credit block course in northern Italy from March 1-May 31. This intensive semester of study is based at Brunnenburg Castle, a renowned study center operated by the family of poet Ezra Pound located above the Vinschgau Valley. The focus of the block course, which takes place during spring semester every two years, varies according to the professor accompanying the trip. Three classes including Agroarchaeology, The Poetry of Ezra Pound, and Food, Culture and Land: A European Perspective, are taught in every block course.
This semester, students are taking an aesthetics course on traditional philosophies of art (intensified by excursions to Venice, Florence and Rome) and the aesthetics of natural environments (focusing on the Alps); and a course on agrarian philosophy with comparative reflections on ethics, culture and politics.
Culture & Environment
For three weeks over winter break in January, Green Mountain College students studied and experienced “Culture and Environment in Nepal” for three credits in sociology/anthropology. The group included a vibrant cross-section of the GMC community including 19 students, professor Mark Dailey (anthropology), vice president of student life and trip organizer Joe Petrick, and board of trustees member Al Wakefield.
The group visited a variety of Nepali environments including the ancient cities of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Pokhara, the lowland Terai region, and the upland Annapurna region with its magnificent views of the Himalayas. Along the way, students interacted daily with the themes of the course: conservation and ecotourism, ethnicity and culture change, and religious practice.
Highlights included an impromptu speech to the group in the highland village of Ghandruk by Nobel Peace Prize candidate Jagan Suba Gurung about her work with women, conservation and rural development; discussing with Tharu citizens the historical displacement of that ethnic group from Chitwan National Park; and encountering the colorful ubiquity of religious expression, both Hindu and Buddhist, among garlanded statues, ancient trees and bodies awaiting cremation on the ghats of Pashupati.
Indigenous Agriculture, Policy, & Human Migration
During the winter break, seven GMC students gained insight into a culture very different from that of Vermont: the state of Chiapas in southern Mexico in the small village of San Isidro, just north of the Guatemalan border.
The students were participating in the course Indigenous Agriculture, Policy and Human Migration, which explored why approximately 120 young people from San Isidro, a town of 1,200, have migrated to Vermont in order to work long hours on Vermont dairy farms. Migration has caused drastic changes in the community structure of many Mexican towns. Students learned about traditional agricultural systems in Chiapas by visiting small subsistence farms and by harvesting coffee beans with a local family. They shared in long discussions regarding alternatives to migration and the possibilities for creating sustainable economies in southern Mexico.
Students also had the opportunity to visit Zapatista communities and engage in discussions with local farmers and key community members.
Japanese Life & Culture
Students challenged their assumptions and explored the culture and customs of Japan through a trip in May and June of 2009. Prior to leaving, the group completed an intensive Japanese study week. They wrote papers and gave presentations on an aspect of Japanese culture, then revisited this work after experiencing the nation first-hand. While in Japan, students traveled to the cities of Nagoya, Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Tokyo, and visited places including Nagoya Castle, the Toyota plant, the Tokugawa Art Museum and the Peace Park and Bombing Museum in Hiroshima. The course was led by Prof. Sam Edwards (environmental studies, law & policy).
Sustainable Development &
What is sustainable development in a developing economy? How can a destroyed forest recover when only 6% of its original range is intact? Fifteen students and two professors traveled to Southeastern Brazil in May and June of 2009 to study water policy, rainforest restoration, and the challenge of sustainable development over the course of 27 days.
The class prepared for the trip by studying the history, language and culture of Brazil and beginning collaborative research projects with Brazilian students. Once in Brazil, the class traveled to São Paulo to discuss the political and logistical challenges of providing clean drinking water to the residents of South America’s largest city. Students toured reservoirs, water system restoration projects, an Atlantic Rainforest preserve, and a mangrove growing near one of Brazil’s most polluted cities. The class spent 10 days at the Universidade Metodista de Piracicaba, where GMC students worked with Brazilian research partners to prepare public presentations on a variety of environmental issues. Other destinations included PETAR, a state park known for caving and ecotourism, Nature Conservancy restoration and conservation projects, and the city of Curitiba, recognized internationally as a model of urban planning.
The course was led by Prof. Rebecca Purdom, (environmental studies, law & policy), and Anne Colpitts, Adjunct Professor and Director of International Studies Programs, with additional instruction and support provided by professors and staff at the Universidade Metodista de São Paulo and the Universidade Metodista de Piracicaba. Visit the Brazil 2009 trip website.
Block course in the Italian Alps
Green Mountain College’s first international block course took students to Brunnenburg Castle in Dorf Tirol, Italy, to study how agriculture, geology and history intersect in this independent province in northern Italy. Thirteen students – including one student from a GMC EcoLeague partner school – lived and studied at this 13th century castle from March until May 2008.
The castle, a renowned study center operated by the family of poet Ezra Pound, is located above the Vinschgau Valley, a historic east-west route through the Alps. It is also close to the Brenner Pass, a primary north-south thoroughfare that places Brunnenburg at the intersection of Mediterranean and Central European cultures. The block course took advantage of this rich heritage by integrating many hands-on experiences with classroom lessons on agriculture, food production and consumption, natural sciences and literature.
Utah & Colorado 2008
Outdoor leadership training
Ten students traveled to the southwestern United States for this trip, which was led by Professor Thayer Raines, Professor Tom Stuessy, Bruce Saxman, GMC's director of involvement, leadership and adventure programming, and Professor Will Hobbs. The course's primary objective was to provide students with the opportunity to become certified outdoor leaders through the Wilderness Education Association (WEA) National Standards Program. Students spent six days canoeing on the Dolores River and 12 days backpacking in the Grand Gulch Primitive Area in Utah.
In the summer of 2007, with a $26,000 grant from the ASIANetwork Freeman Foundation Student Faculty Fellows Program, four Green Mountain College students (Matthew Bower ’08, Paula Maciel ’08, Svea Miller ’07, and Ashley Potter ’09) and faculty mentor Prof. Vangie Blust (sociology) conducted field research in the Philippines on the impact of overseas Filipino employment on families left behind. The students interviewed members of five case families and 30 other community residents, as well as attended conferences with officers and staff of the Department of Labor and Employment and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration in Manila.
The students shared preliminary results of the study with about 40 people in the community of study, and with three graduate classes at the University of the Philippines in Los Banos. The research team also presented the Philippine study to the GMC College community and at the New York Conference on Asian Studies at Binghamton University. As a requirement of the ASIANetwork grant, the four students had a poster presentation at the organization’s annual conference in San Antonio, Texas. Prof. Vangie Blust presented a paper entitled "Touched by Overseas Filipino Employment: Four Women. Four Struggles, Similar Outcomes" at the Women’s World Conference in Madrid, Spain.
New Zealand 2006
Outdoor leadership training
Recreation professors Thayer Raines and Tom Stuessy, both Wilderness Education Association-certified instructors, traveled as evaluators with a class of 13 to the New Zealand back country to determine if the students would become internationally WEA-certified Outdoor Leaders. The group flew out of Boston and landed in Christchurch, New Zealand. After buying and sorting out their food, they set out on a 14-day, 66-mile hike through Mt. Aspiring National Park. The January 2006 hike included one summit of approximately 10,000 feet, ending at Sylvan Lake, from which they proceeded to Fox Glacier for ice climbing. Next stop was a day of whitewater kayaking on the Kluther River, north and west of Queenstown. They wrapped up the trip with a couple of free days to explore in Queenstown and Christchurch.
Fresh water ecology
Biology, law & policy, ethics
In the May 2006 travel course to Brazil, 13 Green Mountain students and three professors studied fresh water ecology, policy, and distribution ethics in the country. The group spent five days in San Paulo and two weeks in Piracicaba, studying and working to establish a relationship between Green Mountain College and the universities of San Paulo and Piracicaba. The course was organized and taught by Biology Professor Meriel Brooks, Professor of Environmental Studies, Law and Policy Rebecca Purdom, and Provost William Throop.
Agroecology in the Alps
Biology, law & policy, ethics
Brunnenburg Castle and Agricultural Museum in Dorf Tirol, Italy, was the home base for studying the interrelationship of Alpine ecology and the local multiethnic communities on this trip. The course, conducted by Professor Philip Ackerman-Leist, consisted of spring orientation lectures, on-site lectures, daily field trips, two workdays in the castle vineyards, and overnight trips to high-elevation pasturages. The course met during the regular spring 2006 semester and traveled to Italy in the summer of 2006.
Culture change in contemporary China
In May 2005, 14 students traveled with Professor Mark Dailey to eastern China’s Jiangsu Province for a three-week course called “Culture Change in Contemporary China.” The group conducted hands-on anthropological field research to learn about shifting practices and values in China today. Topics included increasing class inequality, gender roles, informal vs. formal economies, and ideologies relating to modernization and the environment. The class was hosted by Yancheng Teachers’ College, where Dailey taught and lived with his family for a year in 2000.
In the summer of 2006, Dailey and five Green Mountain students made a return trip to China funded by a $33,000 ASIANetwork Freeman Student-Faculty Award. The grant funded the 4-week research trip for Dailey and students Felipe Estudillo-Colon, Ashley Converse, HariNarayan Khalsa, Keith Solmo, and Tala Wunderler-Selby. The students conducted ethnographic research on the changing traditional behaviors and beliefs relating to ancestors in Jiangsu Province, China. “China is changing at light speed and how people are responding to modernization – especially as it relates to the deep cultural meaning of ancestors – can tell us a lot about this society,” Dailey said. The students focused on 3-4 families during the course of their research. They also sought the views of local officials and developers. The group conducted their research in Yancheng, which translates to “Salt City.”
The Green Mountain College choir had an ambitious schedule in spring of 2006. In early March, 50 choir members along with Professor Jim Cassarino made their third concert tour of Wales. The 2006 tour featured three concerts. The first was with the Adlais Choir from the island of Angelsey. Adlais had previously performed at Green Mountain College in 2002 on their U.S. tour. The Green Mountain choir also performed with the Anglesey-based Lobscows Choir at the Galerie Performing Arts Center in Caernofon. This performance included a pre-concert lecture by Dr. Jerry Hunter, a professor at the University of Wales, Bangor, who specializes in the Welsh-American cultural links. Finally, the choir performed with the Bethesda Women’s Choir in Bethesda.
Environmental biogeology of Hawaii
In May 2005, biology professor Meriel Brooks and geology professor John Van Hoesen brought students to Hawaii for a two-week course on the biology and geology of the island. The course, called Environmental Biogeology of Hawaii, took advantage of Hawaii's unique volcanic landscape to help students learn about a diverse range of life and rock formations.