Lyman-Roberts Professor of Classical Languages and Literature, Department of Classics

M. D. Usher is a UVM alumnus (BA in Greek and Latin) and joined the UVM faculty in 2000. Before attending UVM as an undergraduate, he apprenticed in Germany as a post-and-beam carpenter. Upon graduation from UVM, he earned a PhD in Classics at The University of Chicago. To read a profile of Dr. Usher and his work in Tableau, the magazine of The University of Chicago’s Division of Humanities,  visit

He teaches courses in Greek and Latin language and in classical civilization. He also teaches a course on the cultural history of sustainability for UVM's Liberal Arts Scholars Program: Earth and Environment, and courses in Classics for the Teacher-Advisor Program (TAP), and the Honors College. Read a UVM story about his sustainability class’s weekend field trip to our farm. 

Dr. Usher's research and writing in Classics has taken him around the world. He has given lectures on classical topics not only in Europe and North America, but in Mongolia, Egypt, Singapore, and China. In 2013, funded by a Fulbright, he was commissioned by the newly formed American University of Mongolia to draft its Humanities curriculum. He has particularly close ties with Chancellor College, the University of Malawi, in Zomba, where he served as a visiting professor in 2010-2011 and as external examiner in 2015.

He is currently finishing a book that traces modern ideas about sustainable systems back to their unacknowledged roots in classical antiquity (Cosmos [to] Commons: Systems and Sustainability in Classical Life and Thought, forthcoming from SUNY Press, 2019). His interest in Environmental Studies springs from the fact that in addition to being a Classics professor, Dr. Usher is a practitioner of diversified agriculture. (He and his wife Caroline own and operate Works & Days Farm in Shoreham, where they produce lamb, eggs, honey, and maple syrup on 125 acres and built their own house and outbuildings.) In conjunction with one of the chapters in his book, Dr. Usher is developing a UVM study abroad program at an ancient olive grove in Mompeo, Italy that combines food systems, sustainable agriculture, and classical archaeology. In addition to publishing books and articles in the field of Classics, he has written two opera libretti in Greek and Latin (for text, music, and video see and children's books.

Areas of Expertise and/or Research

Systems and sustainability in Greco-Roman antiquity; ancient philosophy; comparative mythology and poetics


  • PhD, Classics, University of Chicago
  • BA, Greek and Latin, University of Vermont


  • 802-656-4431
  1. Department Webpage