Recent Self-Designed Majors in Environmental Humanities-related areas:

  • Ethan Higgins (2014), Ethnodendrology
  • Madeleine Philpott (2015), Farmstead Arts
  • Brighde Moffatt (2015), Cultural Geography
  • Gabe Burford (2015), Perception Studies
  • Gina Basiliere (2017), Sustainable Building & Ecological Design
  • Chris Estrada (2017), Human Ecology
  • Jolwes Phanord (2017), Integrated Mindfulness
  • Jake Garner (2019), Cultural Anthropology
  • Eli Barlow (2019), Ecological Design
  • Eliza Dery (2019), Cultural Ecology
  • Alli Summerly (2019), Agroecological Humanities

Recent Environmental Humanities Major Senior Capstone Projects

  • Alice Haskins (2017), “Sweet History: An Exploration of Culture, Community, and Place through Baked Goods”
  • Nelly Detra (2017), “10,000 Broken Threads: Or How to Weave the Hard Way, and Why You Should Try It Some Time”
  • McKenzie McCann (2017), “The Naturalist’s Calendar: A Saijiki of the NEK”
  • Olivia Loeffler (2018), “Reflections on Design: Looking to the Past to Design for the Future”
  • Carly Wile (2018), “Place-Based Clothes-Making”
  • Renee Barry (2015), “Exploring the Knowable World through Documentary: Art and the Challenges of Representing ‘Reality’”
  • Grace Costin (2015), “Together with Bread: Food, Culture, and Community from the Vermont Hearth”
  • Erin Honeycutt (2011), “Landscape Phenomenology: Seeing Iceland”
  • Schirin Oeding (2012), “Talking Bees, Thinking Bees: Vermont Beekeepers Tell Their Stories”
  • Jessy Lee (2015), “Phenomenology of Diamond Dust”
  • Claire Goldman (2015), “What the Thunder Said” (multi-media performance)
    Ethan Featherston (2017), “Stump to Structure: Building a Timber Frame from the Ground Up”
    Zac Oppenheimer (2017), “Music & Language”
    Jolwes Phanord (2017), “Spiritual Revolution: An Unconventional Perspective on Re-Evolving through Spirituality”
    Emma Roger (2019), “A Root In Soil: The Agrarian Writer”
    Alli Summerly (2019), “Queer Bodies & Rural Landscapes”

  • “At Sterling, there’s a real history of being able to see where you’ve been, where you are now, and where you’re going. Sterling is a really experiential place. Here, you can get a feel for the kind of world you want to live in, and what kind of world we can create.”

    Brighde Moffat ’15

    Brighde Moffat ’15

    Cultural Geography Self-Designed Major

  • “I wouldn’t have gone to college if it weren’t for Sterling. I thought college was a sham. But here you can do your own thing and take as much initiative as you want. If you put your time in and give it a whirl, you can have an amazing experience. The people who do are top in their field where they work.”

    Dan Pittenger ’10

    B.A. Conservation Biology. Pittenger went on to earna master’s degree in Hydrology and Water Resources Science from Central Washington University. He works as a wetland ecologist in Fairbanks, Alaska.

  • “My love of hard labor and taught me to see the world with an ecologist’s eye and a naturalist’s heart.”

    color photo of man casting a fishing pole on a beautiful summer day

    Ben Matthews ’09

    B.A. Ecology. Matthew is a fish biologist for Trout Unlimited

  • “There is so much wildness here, from our setting to people who are having wild, inspired ideas everyday. There is room to roam here physically and intellectually.”

    Lou Lepping ’16

    Lou Lepping ’16

    Restoration Ecology self-designed major

  • “This small college is one of the most important places in this country. Any institution can announce its ideals; great ones live them out–in the curriculum, on the campus, and in the portfolio.”

    Bill McKibben

    Bill McKibben

    honorary Sterling alumnus, environmental activist, and author of The End of Nature, Deep Economy, and Oil and Honey

Studying Environmental Humanities at Sterling gives you the opportunity to:

  • Customize your degree by choosing major electives in Applied & Visual Arts, Ecological & Cultural Studies, and Writing & Literature.
  • Take classes in environmental philosophy, literary studies, creative writing, woodworking, fiber arts, pottery, arts electives, such as Eco-Art, Basketmaking, or Animation.
  • Study ancestral lifeways in the Southwest U. S.,  the rich folk music culture of Cape Breton Island, or the Hudson River School of landscape painting through Sterling’s Global Field Studies program (included as part of your tuition).
  • Gain hands-on career experience through the Sterling College Work Program by serving as a mentor in Sterling’s  Learning Center, helping others conduct research in Sterling’s library, assisting as a public school reading tutor, shooting imagery for Sterling’s social media channels, or working in other jobs.
  • Complete an internship with an organization related to your major, like the Peabody Essex Museum’s Art & Nature Center (Salem, MA), Old Sturbridge Village (Sturbridge, MA), or the Maine Forest & Logging Museum (Bradley, ME).
  • Create independent studies in specialized topics like: Meditative Creativity, Leporidae in Folklore, Norse Mythology, Medieval Literature, Screenwriting, Craftivism, Literature of the Great North Woods, Social Justice ‘Zines, Literature of the Fiber Experience, Equine Photography, Grasping Spoken Word Poetry, Poetry & Faith, French language, Gender in Folk Tales, Native American History, and Satire. 
  • Spend a semester studying at Yestermorrow Design/Build School or a college in Vermont that is part of the AVIC exchange program.
  • Pursue a Senior Year Research Project (SYRP) working with a faculty advisor on a focused topic of your design.
  • Gain first-hand exposure to nationally known speakers, like writers John Elder, Janisse Ray, Camille Dungy, Rick Bass, and Gary Nabhan, performers Keith Murphy & Becky Tracy and Pete Sutherland, and artists like Judy Dow.
  • Participate in conferences and other special events like the 2013 Cultural Sustainability Symposium and the 2010 Rural Heritage Institute.

Put your hands and mind to work as an Environmental Humanities major at Sterling College

Come discover your sense of place on Craftsbury Common

Meet Some Environmental Humanities Alumni

Sterling College students who graduate with degrees in Environmental Humanities go on to pursue careers in education, research, writing, art, and other ecology and agriculture work.

Michael-Tesler_AlumniSterling College provided me with experiences that allowed me to dig deep into myself and to find work that is meaningful to me. I would say Sterling College has taught me the significance of loving the work that you do. And also doing work that is about more than yourself, giving back to the community, to the earth, and to future generations.” —Mike Tessler ’09

Michael Tessler, B.A. 2009 Natural History, is a Ph.D. student and research fellow at the Robert Gilder Graduate School at the American Museum of Natural History.

Schirin Oeding ’12 is pursuing coursework for her M.Sc. in organic agriculture and food systems at the University of Hohenheim in Germany. The focus of her recent research has been the socioeconomic aspects of small-scale farming. She recently spent half a year working on a project about Swiss dairy farmers in the high Alps and the challenges they face as they reach retirement age and have no successors willing to keep farming their land. When not doing school work, she helps with chores and harvesting on the 8-cow biodynamic dairy and CSA farm where she lives. She also writes regularly for Taproot Magazine, on topics related to farming, ecology, and place.

Ethan Higgins_AlumniEthan Higgins ’14 has found steady and rewarding work in historic barn restoration and custom home building. Working as a timber framer gives him the opportunity to both integrate forest products into a functioning and practical part of everyday life, and to create a space in which the utilization of these products can be appreciated for both their material and the inherent value of the craft required to construct it. Ethan writes, “It’s preserving the heritage of craftsmanship so vital to human infrastructure and survival in the Northern Hemisphere, as well as cultivating and sharing a full and robust appreciation of where our building materials come from, the intrinsic value that its use carries, and the immense culture that springs from our close proximity to it. Using wood has always been part of the human experience, and I’m fortunate enough to have found a profession that allows me to daily celebrate this part of who we are, as well as to make a concrete change in my community by using sustainable materials to create spaces that will both honor vital cultural traditions, and facilitate meaningful human experiences long after I’m gone. I believe that it’s the best thing that I can be doing to actively change the world (that, and picking up trash).”

Erin Honeycutt ’11 is pursuing a M.A. degree in Art Theory at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik. Her thesis research focuses on the video art pioneers, Steina and Woody Vasulka, media archaeology, and how they expanded aesthetic notions of electronic images by inventing video processing tools. Erin writes, “I was attracted to [these artists] really because of their focus on landscape imagery… a continuation there from my interests at Sterling.”


Read about the work of some of our alumni

Jordan Charbonneau ’15, Rabbit Ridge Farm (blog):

Melissa Eckstrom ’15, Willow Bend Environmental Education Center; her personal blog:

Jessica Parker Foley (2016),

Nelly Detra (2017), weaver and proprietor of Black Cat Judaica

Erin Honeycutt (2011), artist and scholar based in Iceland

Weylin Garnett (2017) on making ‘zines

Dig In!

The Power of Music

The power of music is exactly proportional to the community it engenders. We’ve heard it said that music is a universal language, that it has the power to heal, that it…

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Cultural Sustainability Symposium at Sterling College – Carol Dickson

In August, Sterling hosted “Sequestering Tradition?: A Cultural Sustainability Symposium” (co-sponsored by the Vermont Folklife Center and Goucher College’s MA program in Cultural Sustainability). Thirty-five scholars, students, practitioners, and community…

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Much Can Be Learned in 9 Yards

In Winter Intensive 2015, the students of Fiber Arts II bent their attention to the ages-old art of weaving threads into fabric. Two weeks of immersive introductory studio practice with…

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