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ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES PROGRAM REPORT TO THE ANDREW W. MELLON FOUNDATION
Following the announcement of the grant from The Mellon Foundation to Colby, a Coordinator Search Committee was formed, consisting of Elizabeth DeSombre, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies and Government; David Firmage, Clara C. Piper Professor (Biology) of Environmental Studies; and Thomas H. Tietenberg, Mitchell Family Professor (Economics) and Director of the Environmental Studies Program. A recruiting ad was written (see Attachment 1: Environmental Studies Coordinator Recruiting Ad) and disseminated nation-wide. In addition to a willingness to work part-time, the coordinator would need a wide variety of skills and expertise with which to oversee the on-campus activities, such as assigning student internships and arranging for outside speakers, as well as the ability to address issues relevant to the program with state and federal agencies.
The Committee received 57 applications (24 men applicants and 33 women applicants). Two were from known minorities. Applications arrived from twenty different states, more than half were from outside Maine. The Committee initially reviewed all of the 57 applications and selected approximately 22 in which they had substantial interest. These candidates were notified that they had made the first cut and asked several more questions about how they would approach the job. From these responses the list was narrowed down to four candidates, who were brought to campus for on-site interviews. Three were women and one was male. All had superb credentials. Following this process, the Committee unanimously selected Sharon Treat who was offered the job, and she accepted.
The new Environmental Studies Coordinator at Colby College is Sharon Anglin Treat (see Attachment 2: Resume of Sharon Anglin Treat). Ms. Treat received her JD degree with honors from Georgetown University. Her background includes several years as a Maine State Senator specializing in environmental legislation. She has also taught environmental law and has represented public interest environmental advocacy groups. She combines wonderful academic credentials with an extensive knowledge of the environmental policy community in the New England area.
Ms. Treat began work on March 7, 2000 following the legislative season. (The Maine legislature meets from January through March or early April.)
Since her arrival in March, Sharon Treat has established the Environmental Studies Program office and begun to identify January Semester and summer internship opportunities in Maine and throughout the nation, including many new internships offered by Colby Environmental Studies alumni. This first summer she sent out a newsletter (see Attachment 3: Fall 2000 ES Newsletter) and questionnaire to over 500 alumni of the ES program to solicit internship opportunities and develop stronger ties between current students and faculty, and graduates who have remained in the environmental field.
The response has been enthusiastic and the information is being organized into a database that will be accessible through both the Environmental Studies and Career Services websites. Ms. Treat has been working closely with both the Career Services staff and the Colby internship director to share resources and build expertise on environmental opportunities within Career Services staff. There will be an Environmental Resource Corner within the career services library dedicated to providing information on opportunities with an environmental focus.
Lunchtime Speaker Series: An Environmental Studies lunchtime speaker series has been organized for at least every other Wednesday throughout the semester. Faculty, students, experts in the field, and activists will be speaking on timely environmental issues and research. Topics for fall semester (2000) include the environmental implications of food, exercising consumer power through forest sustainability certification, environmental ethics, research using freshwater mussels to track and clean up toxins, and environmental literature. As annotated in Attachment 3, the schedule includes the following:
Student Advisory Committee and Environmental Coalition: We are initiating an Environmental Studies Student Advisory Committee this semester to serve as a sounding board and provide advice and feedback to the program faculty and staff. Initial responsibilities will be to determine a long-term structure for the committee and investigate initiating participation in an Environmental Studies honor society.
Ms. Treat has also been working closely with the leadership of the Colby Student Environmental Coalition and has identified grant possibilities and other resources to assist the coalition in its efforts. She will be working closely with the coalition and the student advisory committee to assist them in their efforts to initiate a campus greening project. This project will be focused on improving the campus recycling program and further institutionalizing environmentally sensitive practices at Colby.
Website and Electronic Networking: Ms. Treat is working with the Communications Department to develop a new Environmental Studies website which will be much more interactive and useful. The website should be up and running by mid-October 2000. The website will be a primary tool for students seeking assistance locating internships. The site will feature photographs and commentary from students participating in The Mellon Foundation Internships and other field experiences. This information will be archived so that in the future, there will be an online file of internship opportunities. In addition, the site will link to the new online Colby Internship database being developed by Career Services, as well as to a page of environment-oriented internship opportunities and web-based resources.
The website will also provide a link to alumni through an online newsletter. A listserv has been developed so that alumni may access newsletters by email as well as through the website. During the year, the coordinator will be sending weekly email newsletters to students discussing new internship opportunities, upcoming speakers, and events. This newsletter was initiated in April 2000.
Outreach to Other Environmental Studies Programs: Sharon Treat has met with faculty and staff in several environmental studies programs at colleges in the northeast over the spring and summer. These contacts have been invaluable in developing several of the initiatives discussed above, including the speaker series, campus greening project, alumni and career services networks, and the internship program. She has met with program administrators at Bowdoin and Middlebury Colleges and the University of Vermont. In addition, she participated in the New England Board of Higher Education Internship Conference and made valuable contacts there. She will be attending the Environmental Studies conference at Williams College in November and plans to meet with the Williams program staff at that time.
Student Research Assistantships
One of the most notable areas in the achievement of Colby's Plan for the Sciences in the 1990s has been the College-wide increase in numbers of students participating in independent research with their faculty mentors. It is with that success in mind that we asked The Mellon Foundation to fund research assistantships enabling students in Environmental Studies/Science to further enhance their education-through-research participation. The funds allow faculty to hire students for research work with the faculty member either during the academic year or during the summer. It is assumed that academic year positions will be in the neighborhood of 8 hours/week, but the time commitment is somewhat flexible. Summer assistantships will be for a maximum of 11 weeks at 35 hours/week.
In Spring 2000, Christopher A. Connell '00 worked for Professor DeSombre on issues of uncertainty, risk and science in global environmental policy, for an upcoming book. Mr. Connell was an economics major who became interested in environmental issues late in his academic career at Colby. This research assistantship helped him solidify his interests in the field; he is now looking into permanent employment in environmental policy.
Over Summer 2000, Kathryn Wasik '01, an environmental policy major, worked with Professor DeSombre as part of the same book project, focusing primarily on issues of ozone depletion, climate change, and acid rain. This summer experience not only enabled Ms. Wasik to improve her research skills, but it also intensified her interest in these environmental policy issues as well as research approaches for systematically investigating them. Outside of work hours, Professor DeSombre and Ms. Wasik had long discussions about the process of research design and about the environmental issues she was examining. Her research was excellent, and she plans to build off the work she did this summer to do either a year-long honors thesis or a year-long independent study project, beginning in Fall 2000, something she would not have considered before this opportunity.
Environmental Studies Summer Internships
The Environmental Studies Program Committee (Professors DeSombre, Firmage and Tietenberg), working with Coordinator Treat, developed the criteria for the Environmental Studies summer internships. The amount of money available for each stipend depends on the nature of the internship, the anticipated budget and financial needs of the applicant, and the availability of other resources including the employer's ability to provide partial compensation.
The criteria decided upon by the Committee included offering a preference for EP majors, ES minors/concentrations, for internship opportunities related to environmental science or policy coursework. Preference also was offered to students interning in humanitarian, not-for-profit, and governmental organizations. Applicants needed to be in good academic standing and able to demonstrate financial need. The application would include a written proposal describing the organization sponsoring the internship, the internship responsibilities, and the relationship of the internship to environmental science or policy coursework and to the student's future career goals; a letter of recommendation from a Colby faculty member; a current resume; and a budget proposal listing projected income (including wages, stipends, family contribution, gifts and other) and projected expenses (including transportation, housing, utilities, food, and other); and a letter or other communication from the sponsoring organization confirming the internship.
Two students were awarded stipends from The Mellon Foundation Environmental Studies Program in order to participate in environmental internships over the summer of 2000. Both students were financial aid recipients, and the Mellon stipends enabled them to take advantage of excellent opportunities.
Kathryn K. Rowen '01 was awarded a stipend to work with a lawyer from the Connecticut Fund for the Environment over the summer. Ms. Rowen compiled spill data used in hearings concerning aquifer protection areas in Connecticut and assisted in preparing cases for litigation. Anna L'Hommedieu '02 was awarded a stipend to work over the summer at Shorebank Pacific, a lending organization in the Pacific Northwest that is pioneering the field of channeling financial resources to environmentally sensitive projects.
Both students will be sharing their experiences with the rest of the ES community during the fall semester as part of the new lunchtime speaker series. In addition, the students' internship experiences will be featured on the revised ES website internship page. This webpage will also have links to databases and web-based resources on environmental internship opportunities.
Professor Tietenberg and the Environmental Studies Faculty Advisory Committee at Colby College are extremely excited by the successful recruitment, in the first year of the grant, of Sharon Treat to be Environmental Studies Coordinator for the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Environmental Studies Project Because that effort took more than half a year, most activity in the Environmental Studies Project office was delayed until the latter half of the year. However, Ms. Treat's talents and enthusiasm quickly brought about the initiation of many of the planned objectives, promising that Year Two and subsequent years will show rapid expansion of the program.
Those students who were able to participate in internships and research assistantships during the first year if the project were highly enthusiastic about their experiences, demonstrating heightened interests in exploring environmental issues in subsequent academic or professional settings.
Colby faculty and students are grateful to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for the opportunity to expand and enhance the Environmental Studies program and helping us meet the goal of strengthening the integral relationship of research and teaching within the environmental studies curriculum at the undergraduate level.
ES Mellon Grant Home | Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
4000 Mayflower Hill Drive
Waterville, Maine 04901-8840