The college’s Environmental Studies Program and Center for Community Engagement have received a $35,000 grant from the Henry David Thoreau Foundation supporting the development of a collaborative project titled Environmental Leadership in the 21st Century. The goals of the initiative are to encourage undergraduate students and staff of the Five Colleges to be dynamic and effective environmental leaders; to improve communication between the academic and co-curricular environmental programs on the five campuses; and to strengthen partnerships between the colleges, their students and local and national environmental organizations. In addition to covering transportation and registration fees for Five College students, faculty and staff to attend the Annual Clean Energy Connections Conference in Springfield, Mass., in the fall of 2010, the grant will support a leadership workshop to be held at Amherst College during Interterm 2011 for staff and students in the Five Colleges, as well as a summer 2011 group internship project tackling a local environmental issue; the project will be designed by Five College student interns with the help of community partners from environmental groups. Serving as principal investigator on the grant is Jan Dizard, the Charles Hamilton Houston Professor in American Culture and Pick Reader.

According to the Henry David Thoreau Foundation’s Web site, the organization provides funding to undergraduate professors conducting student-based research and field studies that develop problem-solving skills and prepare students to be catalysts of change. The grants support creative approaches to environmental work, at local and global scales, that have lasting, positive impact. The foundation also encourages cooperative efforts with community organizations and businesses that can further cultivate future environmental leaders. Applications for the Thoreau Foundation’s Faculty Grants Program are by invitation only.