Environmental Studies at UVM

Stephanie Kaza

Professor, Environmental Program Director, Advisor

Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources

Bittersweet House Room 200

  • (802) 656-4055

Areas of Interest: 

Buddhist environmental thought, religion and ecology, sustainability studies, impacts of consumerism, bicycle commuting quality of life values

Bio: 

Dr. Stephanie Kaza is Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Vermont and Director of the Environmental Program. Her courses include Unlearning Consumerism; Religion and Ecology; Women, Health, and Environment; and other values-based courses. She co-founded the Environmental Council at University of Vermont, a campus-wide consortium on sustainability, and is the faculty director for the UVM Sustainability Faculty Fellows program.  She advises graduate and undergraduate research on sustainability related topics and is currently working on quality of life indicators for bicycle commuters.

Dr. Kaza is the 2011 winner of the UVM George V. Kidder Outstanding Faculty Award for excellence in teaching.  Her books include Mindfully Green (2008), Hooked! Buddhist Writings on Greed, Desire, and the Urge to Consume (2005), Dharma Rain: Sources for Buddhist Environmentalism (2000, co-edited with Kenneth Kraft), and The Attentive Heart: Conversations with Trees (1993).   She serves on the Executive Councils of the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences and the Council of Environmental Deans and Directors and is vice-president of the UVM Faculty Senate.

Education: 

  • M. Div., Starr King School of Ministry, 1991
  • Ph.D. Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz, 1979
  • M.A. Education, Stanford University, 1970 (Secondary Life Teaching Credential, 1970)
  • B.A. Biology, Oberlin College, 1968
  • Sunset High School, Portland, Oregon, 1964

Other Professional Affiliations: 

  • Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences (AESS)
  • National Center for Science Education (NCSE)

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Info for Prospective Graduate Students: 

My primary area of scholarship is Buddhist environmental thought and related topics in religion and ecology. I have also been very involved with campus sustainability projects through my work as faculty advisor to the UVM Office of Sustainability.  I have advised graduate students on projects drawing on ecofeminism, environmental justice, consumer values, food systems, and transportation planning.  At the moment I am working with two master's students and three doctoral students.  I am currently not accepting any new graduate students.

Stephanie Kaza on crazy tandem bike

I am a bicycle commuter, at least when temperatures are above freezing.  I love the freedom and fresh air of riding my commuter bike, not to mention its environmental virtues.  My own passion for riding got me interested in asking, “why do other bike commuters ride?”  I spent my fall 2011 sabbatical in Portland, Oregon, and returned in summer 2012 to interview commuters and transportation planners in the metro area.  Portland is one of four cities to receive a platinum rating by the League of American Bicyclists and has over 315 miles of bike lanes and over 100 bike shops and businesses.  It was a dream to bike to my interviews as Portland is famous for its extensive best practice bicycle infrastructure, including bike boxes, bike corrals, bike signals, bike lane markings, designated bike boulevards, and bike mileage signs. The inspiring but pragmatic 2030 Bicycle Plan lays out how the city can achieve at least 25% of all daily trips by bicycle by 2030.

biker in Portland, OregonWhat did I find out? The most important quality of life values reported by commuters were 1) safety and security, 2) economic benefits, 3) convenience and self reliance, and 4) health benefits.  In addition, people enjoyed increased social interaction on the street and developed an informed sense of place in the city. Some but not many mentioned environmental benefits such as reducing carbon emissions, but that alone was not enough motivation to bicycle commute.  Most people really enjoyed their rides, and the contact with other people, even in less than ideal weather, and felt satisfaction from being healthy and saving money, all while getting to know and love their city as part of everyday life.