4th Annual June Forum on Social Entrepreneurship in the Liberal Arts | Bread Loaf, VT | June 9-11, 2015
The old yellow buildings of Bread Loaf shone with a noticeably bright glow last week as educators from near and far arrived up at the Mountain Campus for the 4th annual June Forum. This year, the Center for Social Entrepreneurship would welcome educators from over 40 different institutions of higher learning, as well as a number of other organizations and schools. All told, the Forum played host to more than 120 individuals travelling from the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the U.K.
Over the course of three days, attendees sat in on a variety of lectures and workshops, all the while engaging in discussion with colleagues at peer institutions and organizations. In the 21st century, the field of social entrepreneurship has the propensity to rapidly evolve at a moment’s notice. The June Forum provided a venue for educators to retreat from the commotion of everyday life, and to reflect alongside others facing similar challenges and opportunities.
For a press release covering this year’s Forum, please visit the Middlebury Newsroom here.
With so many thought-provoking lectures and sessions, it’s impossible to center in on just a few noteworthy events from the Forum. After a quiet afternoon under swirling Vermont clouds, most had registered and finished settling in to their rooms: the Forum was underway.
After introductions and dinner, Eugene Korsunskiy, Senior Coordinator of Design Initiatives at the University of Vermont, facilitated the Forum’s first official event: a session of the infamous “Marshmallow Challenge.” In this group activity first developed by Peter Skillman, VP of Design at Palm, teams of participants are prompted to construct towers out of spaghetti noodles, tape, string and marshmallows. Despite its amusing façade, it proved to be a real challenge, with lessons to teach about problem solving, collaboration, and innovation.
For a full album of photos from this year’s Forum, visit our Facebook page here.
The Forum’s second day would be led off with an additional presentation by Eugene, centered around the theme of “Designing Programs for Your Campus.” After a short break for coffee and snacks, participants were to break off into groups to further discuss ways in which they could facilitate successful programing on each of their campuses back home.
Following a break for lunch in the Inn, Director of the Middlebury School of the Environment Steve Trombulak, MiddCORE Director Jessica Holmes, and Naina Qayyum ’15 delivered panel-style lectures to the group on the power of design thinking in various contexts. Next on the day’s agenda was a full assortment of workshops, led variously by Darius Graham, Patrick Keane, Bronwyn Oatley ‘13, and Cheryl Kiser. Attendants additionally had the option to participate in a pair of joint-video conferences with Roshan Paul (Co-founder, Amani Institute) and Eric Glustrom (Founder and President, Watson University).
On the eve of the second night, Schumann Distinguished Scholar Bill McKibben took to the Barn’s fireside to deliver a relaxed but emotive address to attendees. In his characteristic conversational style, McKibben weaved between topics ranging from environmental responsibility to the nature of community in neighboring Ripton, VT, McKibben’s hometown. It would spark discussions in the Barn to last long into the fading twilight light.
The Forum’s final day commenced with a fantastic breakfast prepared by Middlebury College Dining Services, and moved to the barn, where Bronwyn Oatley ’13 would facilitate another session focusing in on the application of design thinking to the challenges that we face in both our professional and personal pursuits in life.
The CSE team would like to extend a whole-hearted thank you to all of our participants, speakers, workshop facilitators, and all of the wonderful staff up at Bread Loaf for making this June Forum our most successful one yet.