Progression of Study
Year One—Fix Your Compass and Set Your Roots
During the first two weeks of the semester you complete a course called A Sense of Place, you read articles or books and engage in small group discussions, you reflect on your experiences in your journal, you identify over 40 native trees and plants, and you experience team building challenge activities, such as orienteering, hiking, canoeing, and camping. Then, you delve into other courses in the natural, applied, and social sciences as well as the humanities. You build a repertoire of applied and academic skills that foster an ability to communicate and work effectively with a variety of people. Shared experiences and class projects foster a sense of unity. By the end of the first year you understand more completely what it means to be part of a community that honors service and meaningful work.
A sampling of first-year core and elective courses:
Years Two and Three—Gain Experiences and Explore
In the next two years, you divide your studies between an off-campus internship and on-campus semesters. The internship applies and enhances your classroom experience and helps refine and focus your interests. Courses concentrate on social, economic, and ecological consequences of management decisions. By design, the second semester of the junior year provides opportunity to begin preparation for the senior year. Other options include participation in our summer food systems program, an exchange at another college or university, or an independent study specific to your interests. You will explore all options with your advisor and get the help you need to make the right decisions.
Year Four—Put Your Ideas and Skills to Work
In the final year of your Sterling College education, your focus turns to your Senior Capstone Project. You begin planning your project in your junior year and plans are carried out in the fall semester. The project is designed as an integrated learning experience that applies your education and skills to the study of a real-world problem in your major. Topics might include designing recreation plans for public use of U.S. Parks Service lands, creating a study of marketing and management issues for a community-supported organic farm, or analyzing how different leadership styles reflect outcomes in a chosen learning environment. You return for the spring semester to complete Senior courses in your major, present the results of your project, and celebrate your achievements at graduation.