The Environmental Liberal Arts Curriculum

The heart of Green Mountain College's mission-driven curriculum is the Environmental Liberal Arts (ELA) general education program.  In this part of their academic experience, students take four required core courses and choose courses from seven distinct areas aimed at building college skills and dispositions, such as writing, quantitative literacy, historical analysis, scientific methodology, and critical thinking, and encouraging values such as citizenship, empathy, and a positive vision of resilient people and communities.  All the details of our ELA general education program, as well as our major and minor programs, can be found in our Catalog.

A liberal arts education aims at educating well-rounded and purposeful citizens who are engaged in their world and who have the skills to be change agents in their communities, skilled and adaptable colleagues in their careers, and resilient and happy individuals.  As William Cronin suggests, liberal education "aspires to nurture the growth of human talent in the service of human freedom."  For Cronin's excellent article on ten qualities of liberal education, see "Only Connect."

Students at any four-year college take a number of general education courses, such as Introduction to Psychology, Math, and First-Year Composition; students at Green Mountain take courses such as "Exploring Virtues," "Natural Disasters," "Poverty and Inequality in America," and "Voices of Community."  In addition to readings, assignments, and class discussions, many of our ELA courses include field experiences, group projects, and service to our community.  In fact, all students complete a major ecological or cultural sustainability project in their ELA capstone course "A Delicate Balance."  We encourage you to talk about ELA goals and courses with your student.  You may even become interested in doing the fascinating readings and assignments yourself!  For parents of first-year students entering in the fall semester, you can get a sense of your child's first ELA course "Images of Nature and Culture" in Lesson 2.

Finally, you have an important role in your child's Environmental Liberal Arts experience.  As Cronin suggests, liberally educated people "have the intellectual range and emotional generosity to step outside their own experiences and prejudices, thereby opening themselves to perspectives different than their own."  When your student arrives home on break, you may find that they are learning to challenge perspectives they've previously tacitly accepted.  Support this important growth process in your child, but also be willing to engage them in challenging discussion and share with them stories of your own intellectual growth.

You can hear about the ELA, including the first-year seminar "Images of Nature and Culture," from some of our great students: .

If you have any questions about the ELA program, please contact Heather Keith, ELA Director:  keithh@greenmtn.edu.  For questions about transfer credits and the ELA, please contact the Registrar's Office:  802-287-8215.
Last modified: Tuesday, 13 June 2017, 11:51 AM