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Green Mountain College’s
Innovative Undergraduate
Education
Sustainability Across the Curriculum
Tom Mauhs-Pugh,Provost
Contributions by Professors Heather Keith and Bill Throop
Ma M...
What makes GMC’s
education special?
General characteristics of liberal arts colleges
Liberal Education: An approach to college learning that empowers individu...
Mission
“Green Mountain College prepares students for fulfilling lives
by taking the goal of creating just and sustainable...
Achieving the sustainability mission
AASHE STARS Gold rating overall and #1in curriculum in the 2015 STARS index,
with 44%...
Student transformation
In 2014, researchers from Oklahoma State University and Texas State
University interviewed our stud...
Institutional integration: strategic planning
Sustainability 2020: “Through innovative education and
research, Green Mount...
Learning at GMC
Whether online or residential, graduate or undergraduate, professional or liberal
arts, or environmentally...
Graduate Online Programs
Master of Business Administration
Sustainable MBA (2006)
Master of Science in Environmental Studi...
Graduate Online Programs Focus on
●  Bioregional theory
●  Sustainability
●  Applied to individual learner’s context
●  Th...
Graduate Online: Educational Methodology
Rooted in place: a bioregional approach. Our instructional
model deepens your con...
Rather than simply delivering relevant concepts
and case studies to students in each course, the
Green Mountain College mo...
Online Advanced Start Bachelors: OASB (Degree
Completion) [2014]
●  B.S. in Business Administration
●  B.A. in Interdiscip...
Killington School of Resort Management (2001)
●  B.S. in Resort and Hospitality Management.
●  100% integrated with Killin...
Poultney Campus residential undergraduate
26 majors
Liberal arts & sciences: Art, Biology, English & Writing,
History, Phi...
Poultney main campus, contd
●  Professional graduate study preparation:
pre-law, pre-med, pre-vet
●  Self-directed study: ...
Theory into practice
●  10+ majors require internships.
●  KSRM co-ops and applied curriculum.
●  Online programs capstone...
More theory into practice
●  Biology undergraduate research lab and seminars.
●  Psychology research seminar and clinical ...
Applied education
isn’t just about practicing skills or making theory clear by
seeing examples, it is about gaining agency...
Sustainability education
isn’t just about understanding ecosystems and human
impacts. It is also about taking the best of ...
The core of GMC’s transformative education
Liberal Arts with a purpose, aimed at
transforming whole individuals who will b...
What employers want, what effective citizens need...
1.  The ability to work well in teams—especially with people differen...
How does GMC help students learn these valuable skills
and dispositions?
In learning skills such as moral reasoning, criti...
What do GMC graduates know?
What can they do?
ELA Learning Goals
Systems Thinking
Students will understand the structure and dynamics of representative social and natur...
ELA Learning Goals, cont.
Environmental Awareness
Students will understand the factors contributing to our domestic and gl...
ELA Learning Goals, cont.
Liberal Arts Understanding
Students will demonstrate interdisciplinary integration of traditiona...
The structure of the ELA general education program
The core (required classes)
Images of Nature and Culture
Voices of Comm...
Others: Intro psych, Intro religion Us: Exploring Virtues; The Sacred Earth; Homesteaders
Ecology
Others: Math Us: Games, ...
Christina Guarin, ‘18
“The ELA allows students to take new classes and expand their knowledge by
finding new ways to link ...
“A recurring theme across GMC's ELA core courses is deep self-reflection. Professors encourage us to
confront the question...
The Academic Path
Goals: academic skills (self-reflection), community skills (citizenship), plans
beyond GMC (career)
One ...
The Core ELA Curriculum
Images of Nature and Culture
○  First semester, intro to ELA, writing/communication/reading, first...
Images of Nature and Culture (ELA 1000)
Bioregional, cultural, and academic goals
•  Writing and communication
•  Understa...
A Delicate Balance – the ELA capstone course that focuses
on the transition to post graduation life
Students synthesize wh...
Major Assignment 1: The Reflective Essay
•  What challenges and opportunities have shaped who I am today?
•  What do I wan...
Major	Assignment	2-	The	Project	
•Students	read	a	short	project	management	text.	
•Students	write	a	detailed	project	propo...
Sample Projects - all linked to the strategic plan
•An Outdoor Classroom
•Campaign to Ban the Sale of Bottled Water on Cam...
What are the student reactions?
“I am confident that I can apply my experiential education
knowledge to any path I choose,...
“ … I sometimes struggle to recognize my own
strengths. This is definitely evident in my thinking
that I am not a leader. ...
“Though I have always had a passion for helping
others, this passion is even stronger now that I
have realized the amount ...
“If I end up becoming a public servant, I will likely face
situations in which I will have to decide which
principle will ...
Surveying our graduates
% of those employed who report that their occupation is:
% of those employed who report that they ...
Thank you.
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Presentation at 2016 Massachusetts Sustainable Campuses and Communities Conference

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  1. 1. Green Mountain College’s Innovative Undergraduate Education
  2. 2. Sustainability Across the Curriculum Tom Mauhs-Pugh,Provost Contributions by Professors Heather Keith and Bill Throop Ma Massachusetts Sustainable Campuses Conference April 15, 2016
  3. 3. What makes GMC’s education special?
  4. 4. General characteristics of liberal arts colleges Liberal Education: An approach to college learning that empowers individuals and prepares them to deal with complexity, diversity, and change. This approach emphasizes broad knowledge of the wider world (e.g., science, culture, and society) as well as in-depth achievement in a specific field of interest. It helps students develop a sense of social responsibility; strong intellectual and practical skills that span all major fields of study, such as communication, analytical, and problem-solving skills; and the demonstrated ability to apply knowledge and skills in real-world settings. Liberal Arts College: A particular type of institution—often small, often residential—that facilitates close interaction between faculty and students, and whose curriculum is grounded in the liberal arts disciplines. (American Association of Colleges and Universities)
  5. 5. Mission “Green Mountain College prepares students for fulfilling lives by taking the goal of creating just and sustainable societies as the unifying theme for its interdisciplinary graduate and undergraduate liberal arts education. The College fosters the ideals of environmental and personal responsibility, civic engagement, entrepreneurial spirit, and global understanding.”
  6. 6. Achieving the sustainability mission AASHE STARS Gold rating overall and #1in curriculum in the 2015 STARS index, with 44% of undergraduate and 89% of graduate courses either including sustainability or being sustainability focused. Received the highest scores in the Princeton Review’s green schools categories since the category was created. Rated #2 Greenest School in the country in 2015. Consistently ranked in the top 15 of Sierra Magazine’s Cool Schools annual ratings.
  7. 7. Student transformation In 2014, researchers from Oklahoma State University and Texas State University interviewed our students and observed our classrooms “to better understand the real impact of holistic sustainability education in a higher education context, using the student’s voice.” Their findings “indicate that in a holistic setting, the line between the informal and formal curriculum are significantly blurred, and what is implicitly communicated through university practices and values is what most transforms the students’ explicit understanding of sustainability.” Armstrong, C.M., Hustvedt, G., Hiller, K.Y.C., LeHew, M.L.A. , & Anderson, B.G. (In Press). When the informal is the formal and the implicit is the explicit: Holistic sustainability education at Green Mountain College. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education.
  8. 8. Institutional integration: strategic planning Sustainability 2020: “Through innovative education and research, Green Mountain College will achieve authentic sustainability by the end of this decade.” To achieve authentic sustainability, we need to give more than we take, to restore our “account balance” in three areas: natural, social, and financial capital. This is neither a search for mere survival nor a quest for perfection, but rather an endeavor to thrive.
  9. 9. Learning at GMC Whether online or residential, graduate or undergraduate, professional or liberal arts, or environmentally focused, all programs: Put theory into action; applied focus Are backed by an interdisciplinary, sustainability infused core education that provides the learning outcomes employers want and effective citizens need. Offer education on a human scale, with a holistic view of students and community
  10. 10. Graduate Online Programs Master of Business Administration Sustainable MBA (2006) Master of Science in Environmental Studies MSES (2006) Master of Science in Sustainable Food Systems MSFS (2013) Master of Science in Resilient and Sustainable Communities MRSC (2015)
  11. 11. Graduate Online Programs Focus on ●  Bioregional theory ●  Sustainability ●  Applied to individual learner’s context ●  Theory + relevant application ●  Complex understanding tied to high practicality
  12. 12. Graduate Online: Educational Methodology Rooted in place: a bioregional approach. Our instructional model deepens your connection to your own organizations, bioregions and businesses. In each program you will apply concepts learned in class to real-world challenges in the community where you live. In the process, you’ll develop new understanding about the bioregions or business environments of your cohorts.
  13. 13. Rather than simply delivering relevant concepts and case studies to students in each course, the Green Mountain College model depends on building a learning community that functions as an open system, helping students attain a more nuanced and sophisticated understanding of course content.
  14. 14. Online Advanced Start Bachelors: OASB (Degree Completion) [2014] ●  B.S. in Business Administration ●  B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies ●  Students enter with 60 +/- credits. ●  All students take 2 Environmental Liberal Arts courses: ○  The Power of Sustainability ○  Paths to Sustainability
  15. 15. Killington School of Resort Management (2001) ●  B.S. in Resort and Hospitality Management. ●  100% integrated with Killington Ski Resort as industry partner. ●  The Lodge as living-learning laboratory. ●  2 winter co-ops at Killington: high quality, first-hand experience; mentored by the best in the field. Students earn while they learn. ●  1 internship anywhere in the world; in any type of resort facility. ●  Sustainability integrated throughout curriculum; students fulfill Environmental Liberal Arts requirement, ⅓ of total credits.
  16. 16. Poultney Campus residential undergraduate 26 majors Liberal arts & sciences: Art, Biology, English & Writing, History, Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology/Anthropology Professional: Adventure Education, Business, Communication Studies, Education, Wilderness & Outdoor Therapy Environmentally/Sustainability focused: Animal Conservation & Care, Environmental Studies, Natural Resource Management, Renewable Energy & Ecological Design, Sustainable Agriculture
  17. 17. Poultney main campus, contd ●  Professional graduate study preparation: pre-law, pre-med, pre-vet ●  Self-directed study: progressive program, self-designed major, interdisciplinary studies ●  Minors/certificates: Asian Studies, Biopsychology, Documentary Studies, Geology, Music, Religious Studies, Theater, Water Resources Management, Women & Gender Studies, Sustainability Skills
  18. 18. Theory into practice ●  10+ majors require internships. ●  KSRM co-ops and applied curriculum. ●  Online programs capstone projects: theses, business plans, applied professional projects. ●  Sustainable agriculture students operate an on-site organic farm that helps feed the campus and supports a CSA. ●  REED students design and build. ●  Adventure Education sophomore block, professional certifications, and practica. ●  Education programs’ field courses and student teaching.
  19. 19. More theory into practice ●  Biology undergraduate research lab and seminars. ●  Psychology research seminar and clinical experience. ●  History majors senior seminar: archival research and professional quality article. ●  Art majors senior show. ●  Philosophy students doing applied ethics and logic. ●  All majors involved in projects related to achieving authentic sustainability. ●  ELA program’s culminating experience: A Delicate Balance ●  Natural Resource Management May field course. The campus as a living laboratory and case study for all majors.
  20. 20. Applied education isn’t just about practicing skills or making theory clear by seeing examples, it is about gaining agency in the world, learning in a very real way how to make change and how to work effectively with diverse people and systems. Applied learning is transformative and pragmatic.
  21. 21. Sustainability education isn’t just about understanding ecosystems and human impacts. It is also about taking the best of what we have learned over the past 10,000 years about human health and wellbeing, political and financial systems, technology and natural resources and applying that learning to today’s and tomorrow’s real world challenges. It is about human flourishing, today and for generations to come.
  22. 22. The core of GMC’s transformative education Liberal Arts with a purpose, aimed at transforming whole individuals who will be part of a just and sustainable future. Environmental Liberal Arts: our interdisciplinary, sustainability infused general education program.
  23. 23. What employers want, what effective citizens need... 1.  The ability to work well in teams—especially with people different from yourself 2.  An understanding of science and technology and how these subjects are used in real-world settings 3.  The ability to write and speak well 4.  The ability to think clearly about complex problems 5.  The ability to analyze a problem to develop workable solutions 6.  An understanding of global context in which work is now done 7.  The ability to be creative and innovative in solving problems 8.  The ability to apply knowledge and skills in new settings 9.  The ability to understand numbers and statistics 10.  A strong sense of ethics and integrity Source: "How Should Colleges Prepare Students to Succeed in Today's Global Economy?" (Results of a national poll by Peter D. Hart Research Associates, 2007).
  24. 24. How does GMC help students learn these valuable skills and dispositions? In learning skills such as moral reasoning, critical thinking, interest in and ability to engage in intellectually challenging work, well being, socially responsible leadership, and the ability to interact with diverse people, the most important factors are: Good teaching and high quality interactions with faculty mentors faculty/staff interest in teaching and student development out-of-class student/faculty interactions Academic challenge and high expectations hard work, challenging assignments and interactions synthesis, judgment, integration, and reflection (“deep learning”) Interactional diversity meaningful interactions with people, beliefs, and ideas that differ from those which students are accustomed to Blaich and Wise, Overview of Findings from the First Year of the Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education
  25. 25. What do GMC graduates know? What can they do?
  26. 26. ELA Learning Goals Systems Thinking Students will understand the structure and dynamics of representative social and natural systems and their interrelationships. 1.  Students will demonstrate knowledge of social systems and their historical development. 2.  Students will demonstrate knowledge of ecological systems and how they have been historically conceived. 3.  Students will demonstrate the ability to integrate knowledge of social and ecological systems to predict, assess, and analyze the effects of human activities. Critical Thinking and Communication Students will develop and apply strong problem-solving skills and communication skills. 1.  Students will demonstrate the ability to communicate complex issues and ideas to diverse audiences in a variety of media. 2.  Students will demonstrate the ability to evaluate reasoning and to create effective arguments that address these issues. 3.  Students will demonstrate information literacy through the ability to access, understand, apply, and evaluate sources of information critically and to distinguish fact from opinion. 4.  Students will apply these skills in service to their community.
  27. 27. ELA Learning Goals, cont. Environmental Awareness Students will understand the factors contributing to our domestic and global ecological challenges and demonstrate the ability to evaluate proposals for creating a more sustainable future. 1.  Students will understand contemporary environmental issues such as climate change, resource depletion and biodiversity loss as well as the complexity of proposed solutions. 2.  Students will understand the history of land use and the changing relationship between humans and nature over time. 3.  Students will be able to articulate a positive vision for a just and sustainable society. Reflective Self Awareness and Responsibility Students will demonstrate ethical responsibility, aesthetic sensitivity, and multicultural awareness. 1.  Students will demonstrate reflective self-awareness of their strengths and weaknesses. 2.  Students will demonstrate empathy for others and the ability to entertain multiple perspectives. 3.  Students will demonstrate the ability to clearly identify the ethical dimensions of environmental issues. 4.  Students will understand the roles that concepts such as race, gender, sexual identity, religion, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity may play in identifying problems or responding to events. 5.  Students will demonstrate an ability to respond to and reason about aesthetic considerations.
  28. 28. ELA Learning Goals, cont. Liberal Arts Understanding Students will demonstrate interdisciplinary integration of traditional liberal arts areas. 1.  Students will demonstrate familiarity with the subject matter and methodologies of the arts, humanities, natural sciences, mathematics, and social sciences. 2.  Students will draw on the knowledge base or methodologies of two or more disciplines to analyze, evaluate, or solve a complex problem. 3.  Students will demonstrate the ability to use quantitative and qualitative methodologies to interpret and analyze natural and social phenomena.
  29. 29. The structure of the ELA general education program The core (required classes) Images of Nature and Culture Voices of Community Dimensions of Nature A Delicate Balance The distribution (categories) Quantitative Literacy Examined Life Aesthetic Appreciation Moral Reasoning Historical Context Human Systems Natural Systems
  30. 30. Others: Intro psych, Intro religion Us: Exploring Virtues; The Sacred Earth; Homesteaders Ecology Others: Math Us: Games, Systems, and Sustainability; Data Analysis and Modeling; Quantitative Environmental Analysis Others: Intro bio, chem, geology Us: Natural Disasters; Local Flora; Climate Dynamics Others: Intro soc, anthro Us: Simplicity and Sustainability; Utopias: Envisioning the Good Society; Unraveling Food Systems; Animal Law and Policy Others: Art, music appreciation Us: The Nature of Design; Nature in Theater and Film; Chinese Nature Poetry Others: Intro history Us: World History and the Environment; American Views of the Environment Others: Intro philosophy, ethics Us: Environmental Ethics; Moral Beliefs ELA distribution
  31. 31. Christina Guarin, ‘18 “The ELA allows students to take new classes and expand their knowledge by finding new ways to link what we think we already know to establishing new ways to think and act in order to contribute to a just and sustainable society. In this, the ELA goes beyond what a student has to know or classes she needs to take to graduate and get a job. ELA classes hit different points of real life experiences and understanding to benefit the students and our views about the world on a larger, more effective scale.”
  32. 32. “A recurring theme across GMC's ELA core courses is deep self-reflection. Professors encourage us to confront the questions of "Who am I?" "Who do I want to be?" and "Where am I going?" knowing that while we might not yet have answers, we grow from trying to find them. No other college encourages critical thinking and self-reflection like Green Mountain College does. This generates a student body that goes forth into the world with a level of care, empathy, and conviction that is rare to find so uniformly across a diverse body of people. I have just been accepted at one of the top law schools in the country-- one of many GMC graduates to do so in the past few years. Graduating from Green Mountain College means being a part of a legacy not only of academic excellence, but also of breaking past a limited understanding of what is possible for ourselves, and for our world.” Shannon Saulsbury, ‘15
  33. 33. The Academic Path Goals: academic skills (self-reflection), community skills (citizenship), plans beyond GMC (career) One of many projects made possible by the U.S. Dept. of Ed. Title III and Davis Educational Foundation grants.
  34. 34. The Core ELA Curriculum Images of Nature and Culture ○  First semester, intro to ELA, writing/communication/reading, first-year skills, cohort-building Voices of Community ○  Second semester, writing, research, community skills, intro to project management, Make a Difference/Make a Living Dimensions of Nature ○  Sophomore year, history and philosophy of science, systems thinking, methods of problem-solving, historical context A Delicate Balance ○  Junior/senior year, project management, reflection on skills, social and ecological systems, transition to post-GMC, Make a Difference/Make a Living
  35. 35. Images of Nature and Culture (ELA 1000) Bioregional, cultural, and academic goals •  Writing and communication •  Understanding “place” (ecologically, socially, politically; depending on the section’s topic) •  field experiences •  College skills and challenge •  Team building and leadership •  Looking ahead https://vimeo.com/155045338
  36. 36. A Delicate Balance – the ELA capstone course that focuses on the transition to post graduation life Students synthesize what they have learned at Green Mountain. Students develop a powerful story about their skills, knowledge, and character traits and how these enable them to achieve their post-college goals. Students develop/manage a service project that meets a genuine need and expresses their relation to the mission of the College.
  37. 37. Major Assignment 1: The Reflective Essay •  What challenges and opportunities have shaped who I am today? •  What do I want to do post-college? •  What are my strengths and what weaknesses do I need to address to get where I want to go? •  Where do my passions for service to community lie? (Where do I want to make a difference?) How do those passions shape my future trajectory? Students learn how to turn their answers into an elevator speech that they can use when networking and job hunting.
  38. 38. Major Assignment 2- The Project •Students read a short project management text. •Students write a detailed project proposal with measureable goals, deliverables, budget, and @meline. •Students acquire approvals for the project, manage the project process, write a research paper on the topic, present the results at a poster session in Withey, and write a reflec@on on what they have achieved and learned through the process. They also produce a resume descrip@on of the project.
  39. 39. Sample Projects - all linked to the strategic plan •An Outdoor Classroom •Campaign to Ban the Sale of Bottled Water on Campus •Killington Shuttle Project •Pottery for Hunger Project •Ceramic Tile Mission Project •The Future Generations Voice – An earth day project for 4th grade students •Accessible Garden and Curriculum Design •Local on the Menu: Expanding The Coffee House’s Menu to Include Local Food •Raw Milk Dairy Day in Vermont •Social Media Unplug Challenge and Workshop •Reducing Waste in the RHM Lodge •Analyzing the Alumni Impact survey
  40. 40. What are the student reactions? “I am confident that I can apply my experiential education knowledge to any path I choose, but though this class I am realizing that I may not have been looking in the right places…. Finding an organization with a mission that resonates with me, then looking for an appealing job within that organization significantly expands my search for jobs and opportunities.” (MB)
  41. 41. “ … I sometimes struggle to recognize my own strengths. This is definitely evident in my thinking that I am not a leader. Reflecting on my skills, values, and goals not only put me in a leadership position but prepared me to flourish in a leadership position.” (MS)
  42. 42. “Though I have always had a passion for helping others, this passion is even stronger now that I have realized the amount of privilege and advantage I have. Since I have realized this, I have applied to the Peace Corps for a mission that aims to help people learn English and learn about sustainability.” (CB)
  43. 43. “If I end up becoming a public servant, I will likely face situations in which I will have to decide which principle will maximize the public interest, which may or may not be embraced by the most powerful or by minorities. These new perspectives and reflections have allowed me to think further about the profession that I want to have and how I envision advancing the public interest in …” (AC)
  44. 44. Surveying our graduates % of those employed who report that their occupation is: % of those employed who report that they were: % of those employed who report that they were: Class of 2014 One Year Out Class of 2011 Three Years Out Class of 2004 Ten Years Out SOMEWHAT or CLEARLY RELATED to their GMC degree 85% 71% 82% WELL OR VERY WELL PREPARED by GMC for their current occupation 83% 78% 100% POORLY OR NOT AT ALL PREPARED by GMC for their current occupation 17% 22% 0% SATISFIED OR VERY SATISFIED with their current position 96% 94% 96% UNSATISFIED with their current position 4% 6% 4%
  45. 45. Thank you.

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