Environmental Studies Community-Engaged Practicum (Section A)

Through this interdisciplinary capstone experience, our senior environmental studies majors collaborate with community organizations to lend their creativity, perspectives, and research skills to addressing current environmental issues in our region and beyond. We are interested in a broad range of topics as they apply to environmental studies. We favor projects that draw on numerous disciplinary perspectives.

Middlebury Contact: Mez Baker-Medard

I am open to a wide diversity of topics pertaining to fisheries, forests, farming, water, transportation, energy, recreation, environmental health, and land rights and access.

The theme of environmental justice and equity is something that I would like to pull through at least one to two of the four projects supported by the course, but it does not need to be the focus of all four projects.

I have interdisciplinary academic training spanning the social and natural sciences, and a love for teaching students how to think critically about environmental problems and solutions.

Pulling from multiple fields of study including human geography, conservation biology, environmental policy, and gender studies, my own work explores how different natural resource management strategies influence biodiversity conservation as well as who gains access to and control over natural resources.  My current research is oriented towards building a framework to quantify and qualify feedbacks within reef-based, marine, socio-ecological systems.

I received my PhD in environmental science, policy, and management from the University of California, Berkeley, and my BA in environmental science and international development from Smith College.  I have had the good fortune of working with a great diversity of international and U.S.-based organizations focused on conservation and sustainable development.

Prior to coming to Middlebury College, I worked with international conservation organizations such as the Wildlife Conservation Society, Conservation International, and the World Wildlife Fund as well as community-based organizers based in Madagascar, South Africa, Boston, and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Students in the course will all have foundational environmental studies training as well as coursework relevant to their “focus” with the environmental studies major. These foci range across the social sciences, natural sciences, humanities, and the arts.  As senior majors, many will also be bringing relevant internship and work experience to these projects.

In addition to the learning goals of our Environmental Studies Program (http://www.middlebury.edu/academics/es/goals), specific goals for projects in this course include the following:

    • Ensuring students have the opportunity to apply interdisciplinary thinking to their projects
    • Deepening their understanding of local, state, or regional environmental challenges
    • Improving their ability to consider diverse perspectives and to listen to others
    • Critically engaging with questions of justice and inequity
    • Strengthening their teamwork and project management skills

Community-based projects are the focus of this course and students will work on them for the entirety of our 12-week semester. Based on past experience, we will work collaboratively with community partners to design projects at a scope and scale appropriate to this full-semester timeline.

There are three required one-hour meetings that occur at regular intervals throughout the semester (beginning, midpoint, and near the end). You can expect that students will be in contact with you via an agreed upon mode with periodic questions in between these meetings.  Draft project documents will be shared with you for your review and feedback.  We also request that you share any relevant data or resources with students as appropriate.  Lastly, we typically work with partners to arrange for some form of final public presentation of their work.

Past projects have focused on a broad range of topics as they apply to environmental studies. Details of all past projects can be viewed here: https://sites.middlebury.edu/envs0401/project-archive/project-statement-archive/