I am an omnivorous learner, and chose to return to graduate school in mid-life in the field of Environmental Studies, because this was a way I could "legitimately" combine my political, social, economic, cultural and ecological concerns in an academic setting. I value the opportunity to teach at Union Institute & University because I engage this interdisciplinary frame of reference with all the learners I work with. My students, in turn, constantly provide me with new insights and angles from which to explore the relationship between people and the planet, and underlying questions of ethics, equity, and justice.
I received my B.S. from Cornell University in 1979, where I had studied biology, anthropology, rural sociology and nutrition. After college, I worked in a collectively run bakery, and considered taking up farming, but instead moved to the city, became political active (working as an editor for a social change foundations for eight years), became interested in radio production and earned my M.S. in Mass Communications in 1988 at Emerson College. During some twenty years of work as a public radio journalist I produced documentaries and feature stories on a range of topics including education, health, art, politics, women's issues, immigration issues, prison issues and in general continued to satiate my omnivorous tendencies as a journalist I produced two major audio series: one on women in prison and the other on recent women immigrants; and, I completed a book about programming for women in prison. These experiences shaped my teaching philosophy, which emphasizes the importance of meaningful and effective communication, while recognizing the great diversity of ways in which we humans think and speak about nature, science, food, health, cultural values and beliefs, and our political and societal concerns and desires.
I completed my doctorate at Antioch University in the area of environmental anthropology in 2005. My fieldwork was with small-scale organic farmers, most of whom are Maya Indians, who produce coffee, cacao and tropical fruits in the cloud forest highlands and rainforest lowland regions of Chiapas, Mexico. In particular I examined the relationship between the organizational pluralism of farmer cooperatives and economic, ecological and cultural sustainability and resilience. I was also interested in the ways these farmers expressed their ecological values, and how I might collaborate with them in sharing those values transnationally through radio programs.
In addition to my work here at Union Institute & University, I have taught environmental anthropology, agroecology, and political ecology (ask me what these mean!) at Keene State College in NH, and Marlboro College in Southern, VT. This growing season I have been teaching "ecological agriculture: the art and science of gardening with nature in mind" at my very small-scale organic vegetable farm - Sowing Peace Farm - which I operate in Westminster West, Vt.