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.
Cuba in Transition Travel Course 2017
Energy, Sustainability and Justice
During the summer of 2017, Environmental Studies students embarked on a unique travel opportunity to see Cuba in transition—a result of the opening of American trade, new business opportunities and the influx of tourists, research endeavors, and political shifts.
The travel course was led by instructors, Steve Letendre and Mindy Blank, and accompanied by President Bob Allen and Provost Tom Mauhs-Pugh. The trip to Cuba took place mid-May through early June, following the conclusion of two courses, “Cuba in Transition: Energy, Sustainability, and Justice” and “Renewable Energy: Technology & Applications”.
“Cuba in Transition: Energy, Sustainability, and Justice” examined historical and modern Cuban culture, with focus on conceptions of sustainability, capacity for incoming renewable energy businesses, and the relationship with social justice in a country that is governed by socialism.
“Renewable Energy: Technology & Applications” focused on the course project on assessing the renewable resource potential in Cuba in support of the “Cuba in Transition” course. The project built off of students’ understanding of renewable energy resources, technologies, and policies to deeply examine current and future projections for clean energy development in Cuba.
Turning Traditions Into Markets: Study Tour 2017
Master’s in Sustainable Food Systems
Course participants traveled to Kyrgyzstan located in Central Asia, a global hotspot for agricultural biodiversity, and collaboratively traced and mapped food traditions from their nomadic-pastoral origins to current local food systems with home garden agroecosystems at their foundation. The itinerary included portions of the Silk Road, traditional food production systems, traditional and modern markets (bazaars), and a dramatic landscape dominated by the Tian Shan mountain range and Lake Issyk-kul. The trip was facilitated by Dr. Robin Currey, Daria Toguzbaeva, Munara Muratalieva and Dr. John Van Hoesen.
Culture & Environment
For three weeks during their winter break, Green Mountain College students got to explore the cultural and environmental diversity of Nepal. The group, led by anthropology professor Mark Dailey and 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, local 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 Thammasat 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.
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 Agro Archaeology, 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.
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.