How can I turn my diverse, yet overlapping academic interests, into a career that creates meaningful change? How can I turn my major that I don’t think is sustainability related into a sustainability career? How can I integrate my sustainability passions into a way of life after my time at Dartmouth?
These are questions we often hear from our upperclass students. To support students as they reflect on these questions and empower them to find their own answers, the Sustainability Office partnered with Edie Farwell, Executive Director of the Sustainability Leaders Network, to pilot the Sustainability Leadership Program (SLP). Farwell is a Dartmouth alum, Class of ‘83, and previously led the Donella Meadows Leadership Fellows Program to train sustainability professionals and leaders in systems thinking, organizational learning, visioning and coaching. This capstone program supports 17 senior students, as they plan for life beyond Dartmouth, with tools, community, and leadership skills to address multifaceted environmental, social, political, and economic issues.
“Seniors in particular are in a unique moment where they are reflecting on both their Dartmouth experience and what they want their life to look like after Dartmouth," says Assistant Director, Jenna Musco. "We hope that all Dartmouth students, no matter what field they go into, find a way to connect their passions and values to creating positive change. Having a community of peers to navigate that transition with and to share in reflection is something we have heard students ask for year after year” explains Jenna Musco, Assistant Director of Sustainability.
Students meet once per week during the academic term to practice peer to peer coaching, harness the discipline of vision in service of sustainability, receive coaching, and network with identified alumni, community members, and program leaders. The goal is to help students identify their personal values and to connect those values to a vision of how to create change in the world after graduating from Dartmouth.
"Dartmouth students are well poised to take on significant leadership roles, both personally and professionally, to make meaningful contributions on moving our world to a more sustainable path. In addition to teaching skills and knowledge of what sustainability entails, we help foster a close cohort of peers who can support, inspire, and network with each other to serve as sustainability champions for a lifetime," said Farwell.
Evie Bird ‘19 says team building is one of the things she has enjoyed most about program. “I have enjoyed building a small community around a topic that everyone in the group feels passionate about. There is a lot of support and curiosity present which has pushed me to grow.”
A community of sustainability-minded peers is an important outcome of the program. “It’s been great to create a new community out students who have been involved with some similar spaces but also not and continue to learn from and share the same questions,” says Sustainability Fellow, Madison Sabol. “Even though these students come from different spaces on campus, there is a universal quality to the group. They’re all here to ask: what’s next?”
As the snow flies and graduation approaches, participants are in the thick of their job searches. Rodriguez says community is more important now than ever. “There are plenty of programs available to students to help with their job search, but most of these are individually based, and can leave students feeling alone. Our hope for SLP is that students can seek resources and support from us as staff members, but also from each other.”