“You have to decide whether development means affluence or whether development means peace, prosperity, and happiness.” -Sunderal Bahuguna, activist, Gandhian and environmentalist. So begins the Program Brief describing a Fulbright Fellowship to India this summer. Fulbright Fellowships are competitive, merit-based grants for international educational exchange for students, scholars, teachers, professionals, scientists, and artists. Vermont Commons School Middle School Director and middle and high school social studies teacher, HEATHER MOORE of Burlington, has been awarded this Fulbright Fellowship to attend a seminar on “Sustainable Development and Social Change in India.” The 5 week program will involve extensive travel throughout the country in a group of 16 educators from the U.S. who will meet with government officials, grass roots organizations concerned with the environmental and social challenges around development, and Indian educators among many others.
MOORE, who was instrumental in bringing “Big History,” an interdisciplinary study of history from the Big Bang to the present, to Vermont Commons School, likes to remain on the cutting edge of new ideas in education. “I believe whole-heartedly in the premise ‘if you can dream it, you can do it.’ At Vermont Commons School we create situations for students to learn through doing, through real life experience out in the world. It is natural for me to want to create my curriculum the same way and this Fulbright is allowing me that freedom.”
In response to Bahuguna’s quote, MOORE said “Those are the kinds of discussions Vermont Commons students engage in everyday and not only in Social Studies. We look at the ramifications of social, environmental and political policies and brainstorm about ways we can learn from them, improve upon them, and ultimately work to change them when they need changing.” When she returns, MOORE will create a unit for 10th graders where the students will learn through researching primary sources she brings back from India and, in turn, develop curriculum themselves to then teach part of the 8th grade “Big History” class about the Industrial Revolution forward. In addition, she plans to bring Round Table discussions to the education programs at UVM, St. Michaels College, and Skidmore (her alma mater) encouraging the student teachers to think out of the box about how they themselves can engage in their own life long learning, and create inspiring and engaging curriculum out if it.
“I feel most alive when teaching and when traveling. This Fulbright gives me the opportunity to blend those two passions. I couldn’t be more excited or more appreciative of the support I have received from the faculty and administration at Vermont Commons School and from the Fulbright Program itself.”