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

  • Jesse Scarlato (2014), Environmental Studies and Writing
  • Jesse Lee (2015), Systems Philosophy and Cultural Ecology
  • Kendra Dempewolff (2014), Natural History and Cultural Ecology
  • Ethan Higgins (2014), Ethnodendrology
  • Madeleine Philpott (2015), Farmstead Arts
  • Brighde Moffatt (2015), Cultural Geography
  • Gabe Burford (2015), Perception Studies

Recent Environmental Humanities Major (and related self-designed major) Senior Projects and Senior Applied Research Projects

  • 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”
  • Aliyah Cohn (2012), “Herbalism, Plants and People: Herbalism and the Natural World through the Words of Six Herbalists Living in Vermont”
  • 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)

  • “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.

  • Sterling College reinforced 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, a cold-water fisheries conservation organization.

  • “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, photography, painting, and other studio arts, including summer intensive electives such as Traditional and Primitive Arts, Mandala Murals, and Animation That Matters.
  • Study Labrador culture in Arctic Canada, 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 Writing 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, Lapidary, Cyanotyping, Social Justice ‘Zines, Literature of the Fiber
  • Experience, Equine Photography, and Grasping Spoken Word Poetry.
  • Pursue a Senior Year Research Project (SYRP) or Senior Project working with a faculty advisor on a focused topic of your design.
  • Gain first-hand exposure nationally known speakers, writers, and performers like John Elder, Janisse Ray, Keith Murphy & Tony Barrand & Becky Tracy, Pete Sutherland, Camille Dungy, David Budbill, Laurie Alberts, Leland Kinsey, Rick Bass, and Gary Nabhan.
  • 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

The list below includes required and elective courses for this major. Specific requirements can be found on the major checklist. Students are responsible for knowing the requirements for their major.  It’s also possible to earn a minor in Environmental Humanities and this is the minor checklist.

Title Course ID Credits Start Term Faculty
Literature of the Rural Experience HM345 3 Long Block Carol Dickson
Nature Writing HM326 3 Long Block Carol Dickson
Introduction to Cultural Ecology HM271B 3 Long Block Laura Beebe
Mandala Murals (ST) HM270A 4 - Tara Goreau
A Reverence for Wood HM215 2 Long Block Charlie Ryland
Studio Art: Natural History Illustration HM255 3 Session I Leland Peterson
Fiber Arts I HM230 3 Long Block Princess Van Gulden
Fiber Arts II HM325 3 Intensive Princess Van Gulden
Stories and Storytelling HM/SS245 3 Intensive Laura Beebe
Oral History: Family Stories and Cultural Identity (ST) HM270D 3 Session M Carol Dickson
Field Study: The Hudson River Watershed INT381 4 Intensive Farley Brown
Performance Ecology: Myths, Masks and Movement HM472B 3 Long Block Laura Beebe
Resilience, Complexity, & Flow (ST) HM472 3 Long Block Pavel Cenkl
Senior Seminar/Posthumanism: Exploring the Margin between Human and Non-human INT431 3 Long Block Pavel Cenkl
Adventure Literature HM227 3 Long Block Pavel Cenkl
Pottery (ST) HM271 3 Heather Stearns
Eco-Docs: Intro to Down and Dirty Environmental Filmmaking (ST) HM270I 3 May 15 – 26 Meredith Holch
Birch Basketry 0 ceu August 4th, 2018 Prin Van Gulden
Ash Basketry - Shaker Style Cheese Basket 0 ceu October 13th, 2018 Prin Van Gulden
Rewild Your Art: Making Paper, Charcoals, Crayons, and Sketchbooks from the Landscape (ST) HM270/CE270G 1.5 June 26-30, 2017 Nick Neddo
Rewild Your Art: Craft Your Art Supplies Directly from the Wild! 2 ceu July 16-20, 2018 Nick Neddo
Buffalo Bill’s Wild West: Images of Race and Gender in the American West (ST) HM382A 2 Intensive Carol Dickson
Cape Breton: Folk and Fiddle (Global Field Study) INT271 4 Intensive Carol Dickson, Laura Beebe

Meet Sterling College Environmental Humanities Faculty

  • Laura Beebe

    Laura Beebe

    Faculty in Environmental Humanities

  • Man taking a photo in the snow with a dog

    Pavel Cenkl

    Associate Dean of Academics,
    Director of Athletics,
    Faculty in Environmental Humanities

  • Carol Dickson

    Carol Dickson

    Faculty in
    Environmental Humanities

  • Charlie Ryland

    Charlie Ryland

    Faculty in Environmental Humanities

Environmental Humanities Adjunct Faculty Members

  • Leland Peterson, Visual Arts
  • Heather Stearns, Pottery
  • Tara Goreau, Mural Painting
  • Princess VanGulden, Fiber Arts
  • Meredith Holch, Animation
  • Nick Neddo, Primitive Arts

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:


Dig In!

Faculty Member Jody Frey ’10

Jody Frey ‘10, faculty member in Environmental Humanities, is a triple alumna of Sterling College. “I’ve had every degree except [from] the boy’s school,” she laughed. As someone with a…

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Rewild Your Art: Natural Art Series

Spend five or 10 days in this earthy art and art supply making intensive, where you will make items from the landscape like paint, ink, paper, crayons and charcoal.  Learn how to…

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Fiber Class Designs “Sterling Tartan”

This year’s Fiber Arts II class was charged by President Derr to design and create an example of a Sterling tartan. The class, consisting of students Nelly Detra ’17, Beth…

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