Sam Vanasse 20’ Earthos Institute, Somerville MA

Hi! I’m Sam Vanasse and I am a rising senior at Skidmore majoring in Economics and double minoring in Environmental Studies and Math. This summer I had the pleasure to intern at The Earthos Institute, located outside of Boston, MA along with a fellow Skidmore student, Erika Dodge. Last Spring, tired of the typical mindless internships I was finding, I was keen on discovering an internship that would allow me to apply what I’ve learned in economics through an environmental studies lens. Those heading the internship at Earthos not only encouraged I work from this lens but were eager to utilize my contributions from economics in their work. I originally heard of this Skidmore funded internship through inquiry with professors that suggested I look into it as an internship that was performing research in an environmental science field from an interdisciplinary perspective. Once I thought I knew the broad strokes of their work I looked them up on the CDC website and sent in my application.

Upon arriving I have discovered just how little of their work I truly understood, so this is my best attempt to sum it up for you. Earthos is a non-profit company established by a board of industry leaders each contributing their varying individual knowledge with the shared intent to strive for change in sustainable work. The institute itself covers a wide array of projects from developing their book about Bioregional Urbanism to running projects based in the Boston area as a way to put their words into actions. This summer, as they approach a deadline, we focused primarily on contributing to their book Bioregional Urbanism: 1.0. The work is building off the current knowledge of constructing sustainable bioregional living; however, uses collaboration across disciplines to discover solutions beyond the typical approach (Co-creation!!). The lead authors have backgrounds in architecture, planning and urban design, environmental science and anthropology, but their interdisciplinary approach has allowed them to work with individuals from all fields to develop strategies that can be applied to any discipline.

My individual responsibilities were often self determined and required independent research and work. The small office size and close knit nature of the company meant that we typically discussed goals and ways for contribution as a group, then it was up to us to determine how to best go about achieving those goals. We then would write up our research into memos that were used to inform the writing of the book. Between our conversations, individual research, and assistance in editing of their book we were able to help with not just the structure, but the content of their work.

If you’re similar to me and maintain interests in a number of different areas (oftentimes in stark contrast with each other) but hold a passion for environmental studies then I highly encourage you to look into this internship. As someone intending to continue these studies into graduate school this internship has allowed me to understand this field much more clearly and has given me a path for my future. Unfortunately learning what it is Earthos does in depth would require months or years of working with them and cannot be achieved in one blog post nor one summer, but I highly recommend sending them an email and starting the conversation now, because it is well worth it. Oh, and did I mention it’s funded? 

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