CRAFTSBURY COMMON -- Agriculture is one of Vermont's most important economic sectors, and two institutions from the Higher Education Food Systems Consortium are collaborating to offer students a global take on climate change and sustainability. Sterling College and Vermont Technical College are teaming up in a Global Field Studies course on Agricultural Adaptations to Climate Change that provides students the opportunity to study the political, ecological, and historical aspects of sustainable agriculture in and around Chiapas, Mexico. The Chiapas region offers a unique living classroom for students to learn about climate change and sustainability. This two-week international course is open to the public and will provide each student with four college credits.
"The Chiapas, Mexico Global Field Studies course is not only a great way for students to earn credit during winter break, it supports the connection between different regions of the world and the problems we all face," said Carol Dickson, academic dean at Sterling College. "Participants will explore a deeper global perspective by engaging in lessons that can't be found in a conventional classroom."
Students who participate in the Chiapas Global Field Studies course will learn firsthand about the pressures of climate change on agriculture. They will have the opportunity to observe solutions in action, including integrated watershed management, agroecological production systems, shade-grown coffee and community development programs. In the Chiapan jungle, students will meet with indigenous groups to discuss links between the global economy, deforestation and palm oil plantations, as well as explore the Mayan heritage of the region.
"This new collaboration is an exciting step forward and opportunity for Vermont Tech, our students and those interested in climate change," said Molly Willard, Agriculture Training and Market Garden manager at Vermont Tech. "This course provides a direct look at how agriculture is changing on a global scale, and the real world solutions and strategies needed around the globe as well as back in Vermont."
Sterling College and Vermont Tech have been at the forefront of agricultural education in the northeast and are leading providers of experience-based learning. Sterling College's Sustainable Agriculture program is one of the oldest in the country and values a curriculum that exposes students to global issues, as well as local issues in agriculture. This new collaboration between Sterling College and Vermont Tech will help further the support of the agricultural community of Vermont and allow students and citizens alike to broaden their agricultural horizons.