In the grand tradition of GMC’s multi-credit block courses, in which students spend an entire semester exploring a specific subject through a variety of disciplinary perspectives, this fall the College is offering a 12-credit course “Building a Sustainable and Resilient North Country.” Professors Philip Ackerman-Leist, Laird Christensen, Teresa Coker and Bill Throop will co–teach the course, which is centered on field trips throughout the region and discussions with a broad range of stakeholders.
The course is designed to appeal to students from across our academic majors who want to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to promote sustainable and resilient communities–wherever they may eventually live. If you are interested in learning more about this course and applying to be in it, come to the informational meeting this Wednesday, March 23 at 4 p.m. in Terrace 124. Feel free to contact any of the instructors if you cannot make the meeting.
Inspired by our latest master of science programs—one in sustainable food systems and another in resilient and sustainable communities—our faculty members are eager to find case studies for applying questions of theory and practice to actual communities. While GMC has been a pioneer in exploring how to develop communities that are sustainable—that is, able to thrive without depleting resources and opportunities for future generations—conversations within the profession have turned increasingly toward also creating communities that are resilient, or able to adapt to environmental, economic, or social disruptions without losing their capacity to function and maintain a coherent identity.
Of course, questions about sustainability and resilience invite regionally distinctive answers, as we will see when we ask them of human communities here in the North Country, with its short growing seasons, mountainous terrain, and small cities. A landscape of limits with a deep history of traditional skills provides an optimal opportunity to consider how the values of sustainability and resilience can be put to work in one’s profession and community.
Beyond simply studying relevant theories, students will test them by applying them to a sampling of communities. They will learn to understand and engage in some of the systems that are central to sustainable living–skills and trades in food, farming, fiber, forestry, fuel, foraging, fermenting, and fabrication are critical to survival in the North Country. They will also learn strategies to help enable communication across the differences between stakeholders in these communities and find common ground. Together students will craft a vision, formulate a plan, and engage in the cutting edge of community education by assembling and sharing an array of digital stories.