This project has afforded me the opportunity to look back on how my work here at Bennington has changed over time, and has built towards a final project that brings together my interests in education and my involvement with the Bennington Sustainable Food Project. Amidst all of this I have been looking towards the future, and a of advice I received on the value of a Bennington education, from one of the administrators I talked to. They said that when you graduate from Bennington, the plan process leaves you with more than just the sum total of the knowledge you acquired over the course of your study. They also told me that, as I look towards graduation, “It’s not about getting a job, it’s really about finding your work in a more meaningful way. And to me that is what it means to have a meaningful life. You will think, ‘I know there are challenges, I know it is difficult, and I know there are lots of things I don’t understand, but I feel like I can figure them out. I have these tools, and I understand how learning happens, and I know where to go.'” This quote really sums up what I felt I was going to walk away from Bennington with, and it was really great to see my experience in someone else’s words.
It has been really fantastic to see the conversations I have been having around my senior work, and my own experience here at Bennington come together. And I look forward to writing my senior work, and adding my own two cents to the picture. To borrow from the Forest Service’s Leave No Trace ethic, hopefully I can leave this place better off than I found it.
This past week I have had the pleasure of going through and coding the recordings of all of the interviews I have conducted so far this Field Work Term. While this can be somewhat laborious, the chance to see some of larger themes coming across in multiple interviews has been really wonderful. So many of the students I have talked to talk about what a positive influence the Bennington Sustainable Food Project has had on their education here, from the people they have met, to the opportunity to be a part of a group that is working together an enacting real change here on campus. I have seen interview after interview, people talking about the importance and the value of community, both within the Bennington Sustainable Food Project and the school at large. It has been a gift to be reminded of how intelligent, diversely interested, compassionate, and amazing my fellow students are here at Bennington are.
This winter I have had the opportunity to have some really fantastic conversations in the interviews I have been conducting with members of the Bennington Sustainable Food Project (BSFP) and administrators at Bennington College.
I have been hearing about the experiences my friends and peers have had here at Bennington and with the BSFP, and have been overawed by their excitement and enthusiasm for Bennington and the educational opportunities offered here. And in talking with administrators I’ve been able to pick the brains of the people who shape the Bennington educational experience in a very real way, and see how they think about how students are and should be taught here. The timing of these conversations could not be better, as I begin to reflect upon my own time here and prepare for my final term. All in all, I count myself lucky as I cherish the opportunity I have been given to conduct this research, have these conversations, and hopefully have a positive influence myself on the education here, all because of how Bennington is structured and the focus that is put upon student driven education.
I very much look forward revisiting these conversation (quite literally as I go back and code my recordings) and to seeing where they take me, it has certainly been a great ride so far.
My name is Scott Milliman, and I am a senior studying environmental studies and education here at Bennington, with the intention of pursuing a career in outdoor education after graduation. Over the course of this Field Work Term I will be conducting interviews with students and administrators at Bennington College in preparation for my senior work. My research is on the Bennington Sustainable Food Project (BSFP), a student organization at Bennington, with a focus on the educational value involvement in the BSFP affords students, and in turn to the college. I will be trying to discern whether or not students learn useful skills or build capacities through their involvement with student organizations like the BSFP. My research is also rooted in the educational philosophy of John Dewey, and in the more contemporary educational model of experiential education, and I hope to use this theoretical basis to ground my findings as well as to join in the discussion on co-curricular education and the role of experiential education in higher ed. In addition to my research I will be working as an EMT with a local ambulance provider, and I will be living here in beautiful North Bennington, Vermont.