Seventeen Green Mountain College students and four faculty members spent the fall semester studying the social, economic and environmental dynamics affecting the north country region in Vermont and the Adirondack region of New York.
The students participated in the 12-credit fall block course, Envisioning a Sustainable and Resilient North Country.”The block course is a GMC innovation combining perspectives from different academic disciplines—the course was co-taught by Philip Ackerman-Leist (sustainable agriculture and food systems), Prof. Laird Christensen (resilient and sustainable communities), Prof. Teresa Coker (environmental education) and Prof. William Throop (philosophy and environmental studies).
Students met with farmers, foresters, landowners, businesspeople, policy makers, and educators to develop strategies of “resiliency”— creating communities that can adapt to environmental, economic, or social disruptions without losing their capacity to function and coherent identity. They recently presented some of their findings to stakeholders at the Vermont State House.
“We looked closely at resilient practices already happening here in the North Country—practices that we can improve upon and spread to empower more people to live in a sustainable way,” said Simon James, ’17.
At the end of the program students presented 24 information artworks illustrating people advancing sustainable practices throughout the North Country. The students’ work will also be incorporated in the North Country Climate Conference hosted by GMC on April 21, 2017.
The information artworks were created by students with the help of Douglas Gayeton, a multimedia producer, filmmaker and writer who created Project Localize, an educational program that helps students promote sustainable progress in their communities.
Finding Common Ground Website
Learning from the Controversy over Refugee Resettlement in Rutland, Vermont
One of the block course classes, “Communicating Across Differences”, allowed students to meet with Rutland residents representing various perspectives on the subject of refugee resettlement.
The students listened very carefully to their concerns, without judgment and created the website Finding Common Ground. The website is intended to facilitate productive communication by representing a range of voices and providing information that may help interested parties answer whatever questions they may have about resettling Syrian refugees in Rutland.