Faculty, staff, and students with expertise in environmental thought, culture, education, and behavior pursue studies of environmental ethics and social justice; environmental interpretation and education; sustainability values and advocacy; environmental and human health; and how cultural, religious, and gender identities emerge from and shape perceptions of the natural environment.

Faculty Research Programs

Rachelle Gould

Mountain biker on a trail in Vermont

Sustainability values, well-being, learning, policy, diversity, equity, behavior

Rachelle’s collaborative interdisciplinary research investigates the relationships between ecosystems and well-being, focusing on the intersection of environmental values, learning, and human behavior. Using the lens of Cultural Ecosystem Services and with particular attention to issues of diversity and equity, she examines how nature improves well-being in nonmaterial ways.

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Adrian Ivakhiv

Book cover

Environmental ethics, aesthetics, and philosophy; environmental communication; cultural and media studies; religion and ecology

Adrian's research is focused at the intersections of ecology, culture, identity, activism, media, religion, and the creative arts. His research has included ethnographic study of cultural and religious factors influencing the perception of environmental controversies in Ukraine, the U.S. Southwest, and Cape Breton Island (Canada); and textual and visual analysis of environmental communication in film, media, and the audio and visual arts. His most recent book is a detailed ecophilosophical study of cinema and its 120-year history. Current projects include, among others, an analysis of new media use for environmental communication and a study and analysis of the growth of "green pilgrimage" around the world.

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Matthew (Matt) Kolan

Instructor and students at Shelburne Farms

Ecological approaches to educational design, whole systems thinking, power and privilege, ecological leadership, nature-connection, natural history, wildlife tracking

Matt's research interests focus on ecological leadership and explore how the wisdom of nature can inform leadership practices and structures. His research questions consider how to align the way we think, learn, and lead with the way nature works, how leadership practices can create optimal conditions for the full scale of life to thrive, and how to unlearn dominant and colonial patterns of leadership that are perpetuated in many well-meaning change-making initiatives. During his recent sabbatical, Matt used ethnographic research methods to engage with diverse initiatives in sustainability leadership and transformational learning. He interviewed thought leaders and practitioners who are using unique approaches, systems, and practices to foster a more just and sustainable future. He is applying these findings to higher education through development of curricula for a new professional Master's concentration in Leadership for Sustainabiltiy.

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Christine Vatovec

Hospital garden

Environmental health, socio-ecological consequences of medical care, health benefits of nature contact, qualitative methods

Christine's work lies at the intersection of the environment and health. Her overarching research goal is to promote human health and well-being by acknowledging human dependence on ecological flourishing. To support this goal, Christine studies both the environmental impacts of medical care and the human health benefits of nature contact. She is interested in the social governance of complex medical systems and how we can practice medicine sustainably. Christine's current research projects include examining the socio-ecological consequences of breast cancer overtreatment, the impacts of pharmaceutical waste on ecosystems, and the stress-reducing effects of nature contact on cancer patients and survivors.

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