“I transferred to Bennington in my sophomore year, from a school where doing what I wanted to do would have meant a double major with a couple of minors added. I wanted to study environmental studies and economics, and I wanted music to be a part of my college experience too, even if it wasn’t the thing I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Coming to Bennington and having the chance to sit down with very knowledgeable faculty and say, ‘This is what I want to study’ has been so different from saying ‘this is what I want to major in.’
“I’m still concentrating in environmental studies, but what’s changing is how I’m going to focus my efforts. For example, I took architecture on a whim in my first term here, thinking ‘I don’t know the first thing about this.’ Since then, I’ve been moving more toward architecture, because it seems to perfectly encapsulate everything that I’ve been trying to do: economics, sociology, the environmental impact of building. What cemented it for me was taking a design lab called Critical Practice in Design with [architecture faculty member] Donald Sherefkin and [design faculty member] Sue Rees, because I realized that design gives you the ability to connect seemingly disparate things together, and it’s that kind of thinking that is necessary to get around issues like climate change.
“When I first got here, I talked with President Coleman about Bennington signing on to a climate commitment, which gives you a framework to move toward climate neutrality: having a net-zero impact on the environment, or close to it. She encouraged me to find out if it was feasible. So right now I’m working on a greenhouse gas emissions audit of the Bennington campus.
“What that entails is looking at all the different operations the College supports and how those relate to our emissions and our environmental footprint. In the simplest form, that means looking at energy bills: how much we’re spending on fuel and electricity, how that changes over the years, the emissions that result. I’m working with the Office of Student Life as a Sustainability Coordinator, and I’ve also had some faculty input; I’m in a group tutorial with [science faculty member] Tim Schroeder called Climate and Energy Solutions. We meet once a week, and each of our final projects will be things that could be easily implemented on campus or locally.
“There are so many classes where you learn what should be happening, and when you get a class that actually gives you the chance to go and do something about it, that really ties it all together. My idea, when the energy audit is done, is to make the information available and approachable for a variety of uses, so we can go even further. Other students will be able to comb through it and fix things that need to be fixed, or use it as a starting point for projects and studies of their own.”