Bill Clinton, when he was “just” Governor of Arkansas, spoke at my high school graduation. In his commencement address, he didn’t tell the graduates of Conway High School to reach for the stars, follow our dreams, or even do good for the world. Instead, he challenged us to stay connected. Specifically, he said, look around you and find three people. Stay in touch with those three people for the rest of your lives. I’ve done that, more or less, since I left Conway about 25 years ago.
But how are we connected to one another in this university-wide Environmental Program? Some of us on this list are in the Political Science department. Others are here in Bittersweet. Still others work at UVM Recycling and Waste Management. Who knows where the alumni who are reading this are. What’s the best way for us to keep in touch with one another?
And to those of you who have graduated and left Burlington or even Vermont, how are you connected to the Environmental Program? Are you connected? (I suppose if you’re reading this email, you are somewhat connected). But would you like to be more connected? (As an aside, Cherie Morse has an interesting paper on environmental homesickness experienced by rural out-migrants from Vermont.)
Here at UVM, we are dispersed across campus and rarely (if ever) get everyone in the Environmental Program together. We have faculty meetings and fikas, but we can and should be doing more to strengthen our connections to one another. One idea would be to make sure we find time to talk about teaching and scholarship with one another (like at the fikas), or perhaps by inviting colleagues from across campus to give seminars in our own departmental seminar series (hat tip to Ernesto, Bindu et al. for this suggestion). There are other ideas we’re working on as well. Stay tuned…
And there are ways we could make sure we’re connecting more with students outside the classroom. Trish O’Kane’s teas are a wonderful idea, and I greatly enjoyed the one I went to last week.
We would all love to hear more from our alumni. If you’re passing through Burlington, stop by Bittersweet to say hi. And if you’re on email, get in touch so maybe we can meet up wherever you are. Just this week, I was in New York meeting with alumni. I would like to do more of that, and will in the coming months. And we’d like to bring more alumni back to Burlington to interact with current students in the program, and we will.
In the coming weeks and months, we’re going to roll out a couple of things on social media and on our website that we hope will help us stay better connected with one another.
But in the meantime, to quote Garrison Keillor, “Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.”