By Danielle Walczak, Farm & Sea to Campus Communications Intern

Posted April 7, 2016

News, Opportunities

Community-Based Sustainability Degree at Colby-Sawyer

Community-Based Sustainability Degree Now Offered At Colby-Sawyer College

New Hampshire college partnering with local town to offer three-year degree

In the Fall, community-based sustainability will be offered as a three-year Bachelor’s of Science degree at Colby-Sawyer College. On February 12, the college’s Board of Trustees announced the program where students develop complex problem-solving skills, while working with regional stakeholders, and potential employers, all while helping improve the community of nearby Franklin, N.H.

“We are very excited about this new major, which will allow our students to gain valuable professional experience as they participate in the sustainable revitalization of a local city — all while paying twenty percent less for their college education.  And, the long-term vision of the project partners is for the downtown area to become a model for applied permaculture and regional self-sufficiency with regard to food, water, energy, culture and community, so that the downtown begins to offer everything residents need to live, work and play,” Director of Sustainability at Colby-Sawyer College, Jennifer White said.

The major pairs well with Colby-Sawyer’s campus-wide Sustainable Learning Initiative (SLI) at Franklin Falls, which already works with community partners to create sustainable solutions to the community’s evolving needs. Many programs that SLI students are currently involved in connect campus and community constituents to the challenges of local food, as one important element of sustainability.

“One of our seniors, Shesan Poudyal, is currently conducting a comprehensive foodshed analysis of Franklin for his Capstone project and there are certainly many possibilities for educational programs related to food on the horizon. In addition to other initiatives, preliminary discussions have begun about school and community gardens and other ways to give students and residents ready access to more fresh, locally-grown produce,” White said.

Current and future projects such as: a locally themed restaurant and microbrewery, a volunteer-based coffee shop, a permaculture and edible landscape project, a farmer’s market, a holistic health center, and a aquaponics and mushroom farm lay the groundwork other food-based projects for students who take on the major. Students with this major will have the opportunity to connect their education to their local food community’s needs in a variety of projects.

The three-year degree will also allow students to pay around 20 percent less for their college education and will give them an extra year to start a career or graduate school.

The community-based sustainability major resulted from an innovation grant Colby-Sawyer received from the Davis Educational Foundation. The SLI program was made possible through a partnership with the nonprofit PermaCityLife based in Franklin. Read more in Colby Sawyer’s press release.

Pictured: A UMass student works in the campus gardens. Courtesy of UMass Amherst.