Environmental studies and college environmentalismEdit
The Environmental Studies major at Middlebury was established in 1965, making it the first undergraduate major of its kind in the nation. Susan Johns (Paulsen) was the first graduate in 1969. The Program is an interdisciplinary, nondepartmental major that draws upon 52 faculty members from 26 departments.
Middlebury has a reputation as an environmentally conscious campus. Several student groups operate on campus and organize frequent trips to the state capitol and beyond. The highly successful Project BioBus initiative, spearheaded by Brian Reavey, Dan Dunning, and Leland Bourdon, raised nationwide awareness of biodiesel and other renewable energy alternatives. Project BioBus later donated the bus to Energy Action for use in the Road to Detroit initiative, the purpose of which was to protest the auto industry's environmental practices. The college is active in sustainable agriculture and recycling programs. Local farmers and the student-run organic garden supply more than a quarter of the food consumed in the dining halls, and the campus-wide recycling program has a 60% diversion rate. Moreover, the college has steadfastly used "green" building techniques in its recent construction.
Middlebury is committed to environmental sustainability and stewardship, both in its academic programs and in practice. Middlebury recently incorporated environmental stewardship into its new mission statement. The college is a signatory to the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment and the Talloires Declaration. Additionally, the college has committed to be carbon neutral by 2016. Middlebury was one of only six universities to receive a grade of “A-” from the Sustainable Endowments Institute on its College Sustainability Report Card 2008, the highest grade awarded.
Middlebury is ranked as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the United States. It offers its students a broad curriculum embracing the arts, humanities, literature, foreign languages, social sciences, and natural sciences. Middlebury is an institution with a long-standing international focus, a place where education reflects a sense of looking outward. Indeed, the college claims that the central purpose of a Middlebury education is precisely to transcend oneself and one's own concerns-for some through the study of the environment. Middlebury College has set a goal of carbon neutrality by 2016. The implementation strategy adopted by the College relies on a switch of the fuels it uses for heating, cooling and cooking from fossil based to renewables. Toward that end, the College recently built a $12 million biomass gasification system which uses wood chips from nearby forests and mills. This has cut Middlebury College's carbon footprint by 40%, or 12,500 metric tonnes, cut fuel costs by $750,000/yr. and has put $800,000 new money into the local economy. 
"Middlebury College has set a goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2016 for several important reasons. We recognized early on that the threats of climate change are serious and that they can only be addressed through coordinated local and international efforts by all sectors of society. By taking leadership on this issue we are expressing that concern and showing that there are solutions that make sense from a sustainability perspective - solutions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve the local economy, and strengthen the vitality and health of surrounding communities. We joined CN Net because it provides a means for adding our voice and our examples of leadership to a growing international movement to take substantive, effective action to address the challenge of climate change." - Jack Byrne, Director, Sustainability Integration Office, Middlebury College
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