Connect with Vermont's Local Resources
All good jokes are built on a kernel of truth. Consider
A man walks up to a
New Zealand sheep farmer and says, "If I can tell you exactly how many
sheep you have down there, can I keep one?"
After glancing at his sprawling
flock of sheep, the farmer snickers and agrees.
The man looks carefully at the sheep
and says confidently, "5,279."
The farmer is shocked. "How did you
do that?" he asks.
"I'd rather not say,” the
man replies. Can I have my animal?"
"I guess so," says the farmer. The
man picks up an animal and starts to walk away.
"Wait!" yells the farmer. "If I can
guess what you do for a living, will you give me my animal back?"
The man shrugs, and says, "Sure."
"You're a theoretical biologist,"
says the farmer.
"How did you do that?" the man asks.
The farmer says, "I'd rather not
say. Can I have my dog back?"
In this joke (also told with economists, planners and any of a number
of other professionals) that kernel of truth is that even the best
educated and most highly trained scientists are vulnerable to the
narrowness of their own expertise. Consequently, approaching a problem
from multiple perspectives often provides the key to solving it
Working across disciplines is
especially important when addressing environmental and natural resource
challenges as these challenges are frequently composed of a host of
interconnected physical, biological and social phenomena.
Integrating scholarship across disciplines, therefore, is a central
focus of the Rubenstein School of
Environment and Natural Resource and one of the guiding
principles behind the Vermont Field Studies course.
The Vermont Field Studies course (VFS)
provides students with a week-long introduction to the state of Vermont
and the types of work being done at the Rubenstein School. For
2008, nine incoming and three returning graduate students met with 30
professionals and educators at sites throughout the Lake Champlain
watershed. Over the course of the week the students had the opportunity
to explore issues of urban planning and sustainable development, water
quality in rivers and lakes, different
health, recreational land use management, and the
overlapping and interrelated concerns that unite these issues. The VFS
students gained valuable exposure to a wide range of research areas and,
after visiting Roelof’s farm on Wednesday, all VFS participants are able to distinguish between dogs