Susan’s interest in the outdoors drew her to the Environmental Program, a passion that continued to grow during her years at UVM. “I had always been interested in nature, but once I took ENVS 001, that really pushed it for me. When you’re 18, it is a powerful time in your life. The Program gave me words for things that I always thought about. It was a very formative, holistic approach.”
Susan spoke to the strong integration among different courses and educational opportunities. “There was a lot of synergy. I remember taking an anthropology class that really worked well with what I was studying in environmental studies. The Program offered a broad, interwoven fabric for individual curiosity. You could pursue many different strands that were constantly crossing one another.”
Faculty engagement in local policy issues and state environmental groups increased the opportunities for student learning. “Faculty all walked the talk. The Program was not an ivory tower but instead a resource for the community.” Susan’s senior thesis looked at one aspect of that resource, Burlington’s citizen engagement in the early 1980s. Susan went on to complete an M.S. in Natural Resource Planning at UVM and work for the Vermont Natural Resources Council as Communication/Education Director. She recently completed her second book, Slow Democracy: Rediscovering Community, Bringing Decision-Making Back Home. Susan lives in Middlesex, Vermont with her husband Mark Bushnell and 13-year-old son Harrison.