Cultural Sustainability Symposium Regisration
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Sterling College Cultural Sustainability Symposium
c/o Carol Dickson
P. O. Box 72
Craftsbury Common, VT 05827

To register with a credit card by phone:

Vermont Folklife Center
(802) 388-4964

Questions?
Email culturalsustainability@
vermontfolklifecenter.org or call Andy at the Vermont Folklife Center: (802) 388-4964

Symposium Abstracts and Presentation Media

 


Sequestering Tradition?: A Cultural Sustainability Symposium
August 15-18, 2013
Sterling College, Craftsbury Common, Vermont

 

Keynote Abstracts, Audio Recordings and Presentations

Jeff Todd Titon

Jeff Todd Titan

Friday August 16, 9:30am-10:30am

Folklore, Sustainability, and Public Policy: A Few Thoughts on "Economic Man," Conservation Biology and the Commonwealth of Culture.

Downloads:

Audio Recording (MP3, 57 MB)
Visual 1 (PDF)
Visual 2 (PDF)

Abstract:

How may we contribute to the struggle for cultural sustainability in the face of increasing environmental, economic, and social injustice? Resilience thinking—today’s fashionable replacement for sustainability—puts us in a defensive posture that is ultimately unsustainable. Nor will a greater reliance on Western economic reason lift all boats on a rising tide. On the contrary, economic reason, based on neoclassical assumptions about “economic man,” has only exacerbated the current crises. Sustainable alternatives to economic rationality may be found in folklore’s emphases on commonality and orality. Commonality: folklore is not owned, but shared in a cultural commons. Cultural memory sequesters tradition by keeping it available; folklore is preserved by giving it away. Orality: sound vibrates us into co-presence with other living beings. Sound bundles human beings into relationships; economic man isolates individuals. Both commonality and orality may be observed at work in nature as well as culture. An enlightened cultural policy would borrow four principles from conservation biology: diversity, interdependence, limits to growth, and stewardship. But the relationship between culture and the environment goes beyond analogy. The commonwealth of culture is entwined directly with social, environmental, and economic justice. It is impossible to contribute effectively to one without working for all."

Bio:

A professor at Brown University and a Fellow of the American Folklore Society, Jeff Todd Titon began writing about musical cultures as ecosystems in 1984. Since 2006 he has published and lectured widely on music and sustainability, and he maintains a research blog on the subject at http://sustainablemusic.blogspot.com. His most recent publication, “A Sound Commons for All Living Creatures,” appeared in Smithsonian Folkways Magazine at http://www.folkways.si.edu/magazine/2012_fall_winter/sounding_off.aspx. His most recent public lecture was the keynote address at the conference of the Association of Brazilian Ethnomusicologists (ABET), in May, 2013, on “The Nature of Ecomusicology.”

 

Anthony Seeger

Anthony Seeger

Friday August 16, 7:30pm-8:30pm

Is It Possible to Safeguard Intangible Cultural Heritage? And If So, Should We?

Downloads:
Audio Recording (MP3, 79 MB)
Presentation (PDF)

Abstract:

Few musical traditions simply 'disappear.' Most are actively 'disappeared' by intolerance, laws, bureaucratic action/inaction, and changing economic and social processes. Should scholars and policy makers do anything about this? Does it help if they try? In 2006, enough member nations had ratified the UNESCO International Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage to enable it to enter into force. The Convention emerged out of the concern of many nations about the effects of rapid changes on their cultural traditions and an effort on the part of UNESCO to create an international approach to addressing those concerns. The idea of "safeguarding" is itself complex, and the processes through which certain traditions are maintained and others disappear are also complex, rife with issues of cultural hegemony, nationalism, and unintended consequences. This paper addresses the effectiveness of cultural policies implemented around the world through the Convention and whether it is possible to safeguard intangible cultural heritage, and if it is, whether we should try."

Bio:

Anthony Seeger is Distinguished Professor of Ethnomusicology, Emeritus, at UCLA and Director Emeritus of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings at the Smithsonian Institution. His books and numerous published articles have focused on issues of land and human rights for Brazilian Indians, issues of archiving and intellectual property, and ethnomusicology theory and method. Seeger has been President of the Society for Ethnomusicology and the International Council for Traditional Music, a UNESCO affiliated NGO where he also served a term as Secretary General. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

 

Rory Turner

Rory Turner

Saturday August 4:30pm-6:00pm

Looking Forward: What’s Next and What Does It All Mean?

Downloads:
Audio Recording (MP3 57 MB)

Abstract:

One of the most exciting features of cultural sustainability as a field is its emergent quality. Conferences like this one offer an opportunity to collectively help to articulate and develop our agendas, perspectives and practices. This session will provide an opportunity to interactively engage with different aspects of the cultural sustainability concept and share reflections on the issues raised in considering sequestration and its consequences.

Bio:

Rory Turner is a member of Goucher College’s Department of Sociology/Anthropology. He founded and launched Goucher College’s Master of the Arts in Cultural Sustainability (MACS) and continues to teach and advise MACS students. As Program Director for Folk and Traditional Arts and Program Initiative Specialist at the Maryland State Arts Council, he co-founded and directed the Maryland Traditions program from 2000-2007. Maryland Traditions developed a robust infrastructure for the study and support of traditional arts and culture in Maryland including grant programs, research, and, and award winning products such as the Bridge to Boardwalk audio journey of Maryland’s Eastern Shore. He is former president of the Middle Atlantic Folklife Association and co-founded the Baltimore International Rhythm and Drumming Society. Publications include articles, reviews and creative writing in such journals as Folklore Forum, Anthropology and Humanism, the Journal of Folklore Research, and TDR (The Drama Review). He has conducted fieldwork in Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, Northern Kentucky, Southern Indiana, and through Maryland . His A.B. in Religious studies is from Brown University, and his MA and PhD are from the Folklore Institute at Indiana University Bloomington.

 

Presentation and Workshop Abstracts

Friday August 16, 2013

Session One (10:45-11:45): Theory & Pedagogy

Mary Hufford (Department of Religion and Culture, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA). Dialogues All the Way Down: Applying Genre Theory to Link Cultural and Ecological Sustainability

Aldo Leopold’s notion of the land ethic remains one of the clearest articulations of culture as the driver of ecological sustainability. What Leopold called the “land community” remains an idealized object of stewardship, awaiting a transdisciplinary, multisectoral research framework that scholars are exploring across the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. Recalling that ecological field sciences have long relied on communication with members of host communities, I argue that what is needed is reflexive participation in the forms of communication that ongoingly constitute and renew places: names for places and species, genealogical orientations, foundation narratives, local sayings, anecdotes, and scriptural allusions, as well as a host of practices and celebratory events.

Using examples of speech genres drawn from story-dominated conversations among participants in a community-based science monitoring project, I argue that conversational genres are interactional routines that function in multiple ways. Lending ourselves to such interactional routines, we consent to our initiation into worlds in common for which we may now co-exist, often well beyond the duration of conversations that are anything but beside the point.

Derek Owens  (Institute for Writing Studies, St. John's University, Queens, NY). A Biodiverse Curriculum: Cultural Sustainability and Compositional Experimentation as Pedagogical Imperatives

I believe a curriculum fostering cultural sustainability is one where students research and unpack all manner of stories--about their neighborhoods, traditions, customs, family histories, faiths, languages, art, religions, and various subcultural practices. This premise is motivated by the conviction that the study and celebration of all cultures is crucial to any sustainable ethic.

But I also believe such personally relevant exploration needs to occur in classroom sanctuaries encouraging a range of compositional forms where diverse composings proliferate: autobiography, memoir, biography, manifesto, rant, op-ed piece, creative nonfiction, research essay, "free" verse, flash fiction, prose poetry, etc. The media too should be as varied as possible, whether handmade books made from string and cardboard, digital portfolios, video mashups, or collaborative performances. My presentation will connect the link between cultural sustainability and compositional biodiversity, arguing that an ecopedagogical stance demands multigenre, multimodal, multimedia experimental risk-taking in our classrooms.

Session Two (1:15- 2:15): Policy Matters

Kasturi Hazarika (INCLEN Trust International, Okhla Industrial Area, Phase-I, New Delhi, India).  Empowering Intangible Cultural Heritage, With Reference to the Traditional Delicacies of Assam, Addressing Public Health

Downloads:

Audio Recording (MP3, 34 MB)

Abstract:

This paper aims to look at the Intangible Cultural Heritage and why it is important to strengthen, rather than preserve intangible cultural heritage. Beginning with the mean of intangible cultural heritage, the paper goes on to discuss what it means to preserve it; that mere preservation will not take cultural heritage anywhere, as culture is a living thing and it constantly needs to grow and evolve in order to survive; hence, the stress on strengthening rather than preserving.

Drawing from the tradition of gorging on traditional delicacies by the Assamese people, during the festival of bihu, this paper will look at the importance of preserving this tradition both from the perspective of public health care and economic development. I will discuss how the growing culture of fast food consumption and its adverse effects on health could be checked by promoting and strengthening traditional delicacies. Further emerges another interesting twist, of, how strengthening traditional delicacies could lead to entrepreneurship development of the region, thus raising the economic condition of the region. The idea is to open a room for discussion, with interchange of ideas, which will lead to plans and programmes aimed at safeguarding and documenting the intangible heritage of local communities.

William Westerman (Cultural Sustainability, Goucher College, Baltimore, MD). Talking About the Destruction of Cultures in the Active Voice

Those working in the field of cultural sustainability who trained in the field of folklore learned the received wisdom that traditional cultures are dying out, languages are becoming extinct, traditional arts and customs are being forgotten. Always missing from this was an analysis of the social, political, and economic forces actively causing such loss. Some writers, such as Naomi Klein, Susan Griffin, Jane Jacobs, Mike Davis, and others have taken this on, assigning agency to those individuals and policymakers whose actions disrupt local cultures with destructive, sometimes even genocidal, impact. The social and political contexts include colonialism, economic exploitation and ideology, and even personally violent impulses. A passive apathetic public may allow cultural destruction and homogenization to occur, but there are people behind the initial decisions that actively set social calamities in motion – or who capitalize (literally) on seemingly “natural” calamities. Understanding that agency, and the surprising ways that communities view their intangible riches as sources of strength and resistance, is an essential piece of the emerging paradigm of cultural sustainability.

This paper argues that if we don't assess the forms these threats take and we don't analyze the mechanisms of cultural destruction, then cultural workers and communities cannot organize sustainable responses. Perhaps only the human capacity to create and re-create can confront and neutralize the impulse to dominate, whether destruction is the means, the collateral damage, or even a pretext for another end.

Session Three (2:30-3:30): Public Performances

Jamie Andrew (Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine, Portland, ME).  Culture Scholars: Engaging Immigrant teens as Cultural Leaders

Culture Scholars is a youth employment program at the Children’s Museum &Theatre of Maine (CMTM) for immigrant and refugee teens. Program participants develop and lead cultural education programs based on their personal background and experiences. Initially a pilot grant-funded program, Culture Scholars is now a thriving source of employment for teens at CMTM. The students reflect the diverse population of Portland, Maine, where the museum is located and provide rich perspectives to the museum and its audiences.

Beyond providing cultural education programs for visitors, Culture Scholars gives immigrant youth a safe space to practice and share elements of their family’s cultural practices. By hiring them as employees to perform this work, students feel empowered by their cultural identity and motivated to maintain traditions and folkways that they may otherwise abandon for assimilation. Being young, they are able to straddle several cultural modalities and use their ability to codeswitch between school, museum, and home spaces swiftly. This cultural agility makes them ideal potential leaders to not only practice family traditions, but also to translate and make relevant for all members of a community. This community relevance is key to the assignation of value to cultural practices; without it, folkways become obsolete and without context.

Betty Belanus (Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.).  Back to the Future: Interpreting Sustainability at the 2009 Smithsonian Folklife Festival's Wales Smithsonian Cymru Program

Downloads:

Audio Recording (MP3, 23 MB)

Abstract:

Sustainability is written into the constitution of the country of Wales in the UK. It was only natural, then, that the main sponsor of the 2009 Wales Smithsonian Cymru program, the Welsh Assembly Government, wished for aspects of sustainability to be included in a significant way. The curatorial challenge was how to tie the modern concept of sustainability to its antecedents in the cultural history and present day folklife of Welsh communities and individuals. For instance, how does a folklorist "sell" the idea of featuring the building of an iconic folk boat, the coracle, now carried on by a mere handful of craftspeople, over something more currently economically viable in the maritime industries?

Through four case studies included in the Festival program, all of which involved considerable negotiation and compromise, this paper will examine the process of choosing and presenting a variety of Welsh traditions which illustrate the continuum between ancient (or at least historic) and modern, cutting edge technologies and concepts of sustainability within the country. Through a number of different concepts of “sustainability,” this paper will explore some important question: What did the stake holders in the Festival project gain and lose? What were the lessons learned? Did the program create a lasting legacy?

Session Four (3:45-6:00): Food and Agriculture

Laura Beebe (Sterling College), A Berried Geography: Fruit from the Circumpolar North

Since time immemorial, peoples from across the Circumpolar North have depended on the same berry species for food, spiritual rituals, story vessels and community cohesion. Today, these berries have extended beyond local patches to become important players in global issues of food justice and political sovereignty. This talk discusses the ways that various cultures from the top of the world have established and maintained intimate relationships with seasonal fruits of the taiga and tundra.

Rosann Kent (Appalachian Studies, University of North Georgia, GA). Heirloom Seed Keepers and their Stories: Growing Community and Sustainability through Arts-Based Research

This workshop will provide a unique model for an arts-based research project that is replicable in any local community seeking to document and share its heirloom seeds and foodways traditions. One of the challenges facing Appalachia is that local residents often are marginalized as their communities are gentrified and mountains developed. Their voices and choices may be lost amid the newcomers’ clamor for services combined with well-meaning urge to “help.” One woman whose ancestors settled in the area many years ago points out the gulf between the “been heres” and “came heres” this way, “None of them has ever bothered to ask me what I knew or what I could do [about solving problems in Appalachia].” Yet, cultural tradition bearers who still garden with heirloom vegetable seeds have vital information that can contribute to the well-being of the entire community and its local food system.

In this model, sought to identify, meet, and interview at least one tradition bearer in each of the small settlements in the country. Then, they created a “communograph,” a collective memory bank that artistically represented the seed savers’ contributions of donated seeds and shared stories. This exchange of knowledge and narrative promoted positive change in relations between new and long-term residents. By sharing the assets of cultural literacy, students built social bridges that contribute to sustainability.

Lucy M. Long (Center for Food and Culture, Bowling Green, OH).  Every Bite You Take: How Our Food Choices Connect Us to the Past, Present, and Future or the Oxymoron of Sustainable Foodways Traditions

Food is obviously tied to environmental sustainability through its production, processing, and disposal. Its distribution, marketing, and purchasing connects it to the economic and social pillars of sustainability. The cultural pillar, however, raises numerous issues around the value of maintaining foodways practices and attitudes that are inconsistent with the tenets of sustainability. Furthermore, American food culture has historically emphasized quantity and efficiency over quality; immediate monetary cost over long-term social and environmental costs, food as fuel and nutrition rather than emotional and spiritual nourishment, yet food is a social and cultural phenomenon whose meanings and functions reflect our identities and histories and connect us in meaningful ways to our pasts, places, and other people.

This interactive workshop explores how our foodways choices connect us to our pasts, places, and other people, and how we can use those connections to create a more sustainable future. A culinary tourism project in Ohio will be used as illustration, but participants will be asked to contribute stories of their own experiences.

 

Saturday August 17, 2013

Session Five (8:45-9:45): Music

Hicham Chami (Music Department, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL).  “A Sojourn Elsewhere”: Preserving the turath in the Arab Diaspora

Bruno Nettl's 1978 Ethnomusicology article identifies responses that world cultures have made to the onslaught of overwhelming Western cultural influence. Reintroduction is an especially intriguing option: "the return of a musical tradition after a sojourn elsewhere." The Arab world has experienced a relentless decline of the turath (cultural tradition) due to the effects of colonialism, persistence of the oral tradition, and hybridization of traditional musical forms. Without a mechanism in place to preserve the turath from further deterioration, its existence may cease for future generations.

Yet there is a "spark of hope" through reintroduction. This spark of hope, ironically, is being rekindled not in Cairo, or Beirut, or Damascus...but in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Gainesville, Florida. This presentation surveys specific projects that first-generation Arab Americans have accomplished in their self-assumed role as "guardians of the turath"--including music instruction, workshops, ethnic festivals, Arabic music ensembles, oral histories, transcriptions and compositions, archives, and publishing. As a "case study," activities conducted under the aegis of the Chicago-based Arabesque Foundation for Arab Culture will be evaluated vis-à-vis the mission of preserving the turath in the face of threats from hybridity and assimilation.

Frieda Holland Gebert (University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY). Appalachia: Sustaining Culture Through Music

Downloads:

Audio Recording (MP3, 20 MB)
Presentation (PDF)

Abstract:

Appalachia is a region located in the eastern half of the United States. It extends for nearly 1,000 miles, covers nearly 205,000 square miles in eleven different states, and contains over 25 million people that are defined primarily by a cultural connection. Since Appalachia was first recognized as a distinct entity in the late 19th century, music has been one of its most defining characteristics. With roots in Irish and Scottish vocal ballads, the residents of Appalachia folded in the instrumental music of African-American culture to create a unique artistic expression of life in the eastern mountains.

What makes the music of Appalachia so remarkable is its ability to describe, express, and illuminate Appalachian culture as it has evolved over the course of nearly 200 years. The ever-changing musical expression of the culture is unusual in its range of styles. This paper examines how music has reflected the lives of Appalachian inhabitants since the early days of Irish and Scottish immigrants, through slavery, the industrial development of the 1900’s, and onward into the uncertain future of the 21st century. It will compare the ballads transcribed by musicologists such as John Jacob Niles and Mike Seeger with current recording artists such as Ben Sollee. Throughout its tumultuous and contentious history, the changing culture of Appalachia has been expressed through its music, sustaining the fiber that binds its people together.

Session Six (10:00-11:00): Religion & Spirituality

Nancy Menning (Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY).  Sequestering Religion: Enhancing Cultural Sustainability Through the Religious Imagination

In From Where We Stand: Recovering a Sense of Place, Deborah Tall (1993) narrates the process of making her home in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. She finds her bearings by exploring the history of the landscape and weaving her personal narrative into that larger story. Religion plays a role, not only in her evocations of upstate religious traditions—Haudenosaunee lifeways, the burned-over district, and Mormon origins—but also in her more conceptual reflections on the way religious traditions generally orient their adherents to places. Tall’s use of religion is instructive. She is not working out her own faith commitments within the bounds of a particular tradition. Rather, she draws on religious thought generally and the ways specific religiosities have imagined this particular landscape. Religion, thus, becomes a humanities resource relevant to and appropriate within the public sphere.

In this presentation, I describe the outlines of a civic engagement effort (including blogging, mapping, and storytelling) that works with religiously-identified, spiritually-inclined, and otherwise-interested residents of the Finger Lakes region to collectively develop, strengthen, and/or recover a sense of place grounded in the religious imagination. This project will be launched in June 2013. We will seek to do together and for one another what Deb Tall did largely on her own and for herself. Drawing on diverse spiritual and religious resources, we will seek to help one another articulate and deepen our collective sense of place.

Anna Ralph (Cultural Sustainability, Goucher College, Baltimore, MD). Best Practices for Sustainability—from the Cross-Cultural Work of Missionaries

Downloads:

Audio Recording (MP3, 18 MB)
Presentation (PDF)
Handout (PDF)

As a former Christian missionary, and a current student of cultural sustainability, I have noted a close correspondence between the passions of missionaries and cultural sustainability practitioners. Each field believes it has good news to share. Each desires to serve communities in ways that enhance their vitality—ideologically and pragmatically. Neither is satisfied simply to observe and document cultures; they have a desire to actively engage with people, helping to facilitate community-driven change that honors and sustains cherished cultural values. Both confront the powerful impulses of globalization.

My research has examined missionaries’ two millennia of crosscultural experiences for insights which could benefit the emerging field of cultural sustainability. Missionaries were committed to action, intervention, and advocacy. Given that cultural sustainability is similarly dedicated, missionaries’ experiences provide valuable insights from which cultural sustainability can derive its own strategies. The field of cultural sustainability is in the midst of defining its scope and methods of professional practice. As it does so, it will face many of the same challenges that missionaries have already encountered. The wisdom gained from their successes and their failures yielded implications for the work of cultural sustainability. This proposed presentation will focus on a set of “best practices” for the field of cultural sustainability, drawn from these implications. These principles will aid us as we work to partner with communities in ways which give them hope and which empower them to be sustained into the future.

Session Seven (11:15-12:15): Sustainability in Vermont

Robert Buchanan (Goddard College, Plainfield, VT). Sustainable Culture, Community and Learning in the Green Mountain State: A Contemporary Overview

Can we identify a common culture that capably represents the Green Mountain state? Vermont is oft depicted as a state with a progressive, welcoming, and proud culture: we were once a virtuous independent republic; we prohibited slavery and harbored freed slaves. To many, Vermont life is anchored in a community-based rootedness we seek to sustain for our children and future generations. Amid these values, however we are a state with cultural tensions and economic struggles. Vermont life and culture, is under pressure and in transition—features not associated with sustainability. Given these cultural fissures, it will be useful to explore the ways Vermont history and culture is portrayed to our young adults in their public schools. This presentation will look at two pivotal state institutions of cultural transmission: 1) the common core precepts that guide public learning for teachers and students across our state; 2) the course requirements at our state undergraduate colleges and university. In discussion, we will explore:

  • How do educators represent culture, sustainability and community?
  • What are the experiences of our local students? What are they learning about these complex and shifting measures?
  • How can we understand our shortfalls and celebrate our cultural gifts?
  • Michael A. Lange (Champlain College, Burlington VT). Using the Sugarhouse in the Tourist Industry and Elementary Education

    There is no tradition that is more paradigmatically (stereotypically?) ‘Vermont’ than sugaring; the making of maple syrup from the sap of indigenous maple trees. The making of maple syrup is an important part of the livelihood and identity of many people in Vermont. It is almost impossible for a Vermonter to think of their home state without eventually calling to mind images of a stand of maples or a sugarhouse. Even for outsiders without personal experience of the state, Vermont is consistently linked to images of maple syrup, maple trees, and the sugarhouse, even if the bottle of Vermont maple syrup on the kitchen table is their only tangible connection to the state. Often, the image of maple syrup conjures up tropes of rurality and an old fashioned, traditional way of life.

    This presentation will explore the sugarhouse as a symbolic arena for the negotiation of traditional Vermont identity. Specifically, I want to talk about two uses of the sugarhouse outside of the normal, expected situation of such structures. The first use is the sugarhouse as demonstration area for tourists. Many sugarmakers open their sugarhouses to visitors on an informal basis, and several have made tourism a significant part of their economic identity. Second, I will examine a sugarhouse that was built as an educational tool at the elementary school in Fairfield, VT. By comparing these two unusual uses of the sugarhouse, I will explore its role in creating and maintaining sugaring as part of Vermont’s identity.

    Session Eight (1:15-4:00) : Field Session

    Farley Brown & Ross Morgan (Sterling College) Exploring a Changing Rural Culture

    A community is defined by the people and in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont many rural communities have evolved with strong relationships to the working landscape. As these relationships to the land have changed over time so has the culture; some see it as a dramatic change and a loss of the "Vermont way of life". Some say these changes are simply a reflection of the times and some don’t feel the change at all.

    During this field workshop we will visit the Dunbar Farm in East Craftsbury with Mark Dunbar, a fourth generation Vermonter and dairy farmer, Ross Morgan, a forester who works with landowners throughout northern Vermont, and Farley Brown, a landowner in Craftsbury. (Brown and Morgan are also faculty at Sterling College.) We will share stories which reflect the local culture, as we ponder questions, such as why have our relationships to the land changed, and how are we as a society responding to these changes? Are we defining new relationships to the land? Are we trying to hold onto a culture by creating images of a working landscape? Dunbar, Morgan and Brown each have their own relationships to the land, and they have been involved with these issues through the local government (select board, planning commission, conservation commission, forestry committee) and the broader community.

     

    Symposium Partners

    Sequestering Tradition?: A Cultural Sustainability Symposium is sponsored by the Goucher College Masters of Arts program in Cultural Sustainability, Sterling College and the Vermont Folklife Center.

    The Master of Arts program in Cultural Sustainability at Goucher College (Baltimore) brings together knowledge from anthropology, history, folklore, ethnomusicology, communications, business and management, linguistics, and activism to teach students how to effect positive, community-driven change in the cultures they care about most--whether it be an African village, an American inner-city neighborhood, a remote tribe in Asia, or a threatened public space just down the street. We teach our students how to work closely with individuals and communities to identify, protect, and enhance their important traditions, their ways of life, their cherished spaces, and their vital relationships to each other and the world.

    Located at the heart of Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, and part of the area's growing agricultural renaissance, Sterling College is a liberal-arts college that integrates environmental studies throughout the curriculum. Sterling's mission is to "combine structured academic study with experiential challenges and plain hard work to build responsible problem solvers who become stewards of the environment as they pursue productive lives." Sequestering Tradition? A Cultural Sustainability Symposium capitalizes on the model of community and experiential learning at the center of Sterling's curriculum, and draws upon the resources of Sterling’s Environmental Humanities program.

    Founded in 1984, the Vermont Folklife Center (VFC) uses ethnography to strengthen the understanding of the cultural and social fabric of Vermont's diverse communities. The VFC's mission is to document and preserve the cultural heritage and traditions of Vermont, and produce educational programs and publications from its archive. We fulfill our mission by conducting ethnographic field research that captures the stories and traditions of our diverse communities; by teaching Vermonters of all ages to use digital technology to document and share their own life experience and heritage; by presenting public programs that increase understanding of our ever-changing cultural landscape; and by preserving personal and family stories, photographic collections, moving images, and recordings of regional music in our multimedia digital archive.


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