Globalizing a sense of place

The MEM program at Western Colorado University offers a globally informed, place-based, environmental leadership education to its students. The MEM presents a hybrid-learning environment for full-residency students rooted in the extended laboratories of the Gunnison area, combined with a low-residency option for select environmental professionals from around the world. This unique, blended learning environment brings together diverse regional and professional perspectives to challenge and compliment the learning experience for all students.

Western offers a low-residency option for any student accepted to the program who can: a) illustrate that they have a leadership commitment requiring them to stay in their local community, and b) can demonstrate that their continued work in another region would diversify the place-based education of our full-residency students focused on the extended laboratories of Gunnison. Unlike other MEM programs with distance options, Western’s program engages full-residency and low-residency students with each other frequently throughout the year. This enhances the low-residency education with perspectives from students immersed in small seminar and experiential activities in Gunnison. In turn, this distance option improves the full-residency experience with weekly perspectives (on the same material) from students with extensive professional and diverse regional perspectives. For two weeks of each summer, MEM students and faculty will gather in Western’s Rocky Mountain location for an intensive, field-based, solutions-driven, professionally focused collaboration. Attendance is mandatory at the intensive.  Accepted international students who wish to remain abroad may request an exception to this requirement if they are unable to obtain a visa.

Possible distance (from anywhere in the world) exception opportunities include:

  • Professional commitments with relevant organization (relevant enough for the commitment to serve as the basis of a master’s project).
  • Peace Corps or AmeriCorps term, with relevant focus (relevant enough for the commitment to serve as the basis of a master’s project).
  • Internship with relevant organization (relevant enough for the commitment to serve as the basis of a masters project).
  • Connection with a landowner or business seeking environmental management assistance.

Please contact John Hausdoerffer, Ph.D at to brainstorm other potential distance options.