Middlebury School of the Environment

What is the Middlebury School of the Environment?

  • A six-week environmental studies program for college undergraduates. In 2018 the program will be based in Yunnan Province, China, with dual sites in Kunming and Dali.
  • The equivalent of three college courses (nine semester-hours of credit) offered within a specially designed immersive curriculum that includes core course work, electives, leadership training, and field experiences.
  • A program featuring nationally recognized faculty and environmental leaders from the US and China.

Why study in Yunnan, China?

We have twin bases in Dali, a small city in the western reaches of western Yunnan province and the foothills of the Himalayas, and Kunming, the province’s capital and largest city. It gives us the ability to move between and explore social-ecological systems along the wilderness, rural, urban interface. The landscapes and unique conservation areas nearby become our classroom as we seek to understand place. The students will get hands on experience with environmental leadership and cultural diversity. As the world pivots to China, the country and its people illustrate the complexities of environmental problem solving in the 21st century.

Is there financial aid?

Yes, we offer need-based financial aid.

How can I apply?

The application process has a few simple steps, and applications are reviewed on a rolling basis until the program is full or until visas can no longer be obtained. You will be notified of a decision within six weeks of submitting your application.

Course Descriptions and Learning Outcomes

The MSoE pedagogy is problem-based. We tackle significant environmental problems from various angles, bringing the knowledge of many disciplines together to investigate the causes of environmental challenges, and generate creative, sustainable solutions by dissolving traditional disciplinary boundaries.

MSoE in Yunnan will offer three required courses: Understanding Place, Sustainability Leadership Seminar and Environmental Analysis.

Understanding Place

Manifesting solutions to environmental challenges requires a deep understanding of “place,” by which we mean a sense of the history, culture, economy, and ecology of a location. Facing environmental challenges cannot be divorced from understanding either the people or the ecological realities of the location where the challenge is situated or from where the solution is to emerge. This is best understood by focusing first on a single place, and then examining that place in its global context. This course will explore a specific place through both ecological and cultural narratives (in other words, through geography, history, biology, literature, geology, and political science) to understand how this place came to be in the condition it is today; its global connections on multiple temporal and spatial scales; and how to improve conditions for both itself and the human communities associated with it. 1 Unit (3 semester-hours).

Sustainability Leadership Seminar

Governance and administration in China. Wicked problems. Sustainable communities. Spatial and systems thinking. Structured decision making. Persuasive communication. These are just a few of the topics this course will cover. Through a series of field-based exercises intended to hone your observational and analytical skills, and workshops from environmental leaders and practitioners based in the US and China, such as The Nature Conservancy, this course will enhance, amplify and elevate your sustainability leadership skills. 1 Unit (3 semester-hours).

Environmental Analysis

Using a case study method, students in this course will use an interdisciplinary lens to explore critical environmental issues from both scientific and humanitarian perspectives. The class will explore pollution monitoring and management, and biodiversity conservation in the field and in the lab. Students will also learn the art of storytelling and filmmaking, while exploring the role of the arts in communicating about environmental problems and solutions, especially in a history- and culture-rich local context. Students will come away from this course with a solid background in the physical and natural sciences, as well as appreciating the role of environmental ethics in problem solving. 1 Unit (3 semester-hours).

More info.