MiddCORE Alum Alec MacMillen Takes the Stage as TEDx Speaker

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The Project on Creativity and Innovation (PCI) is Middlebury’s “launchpad for new ideas.” Through programs such as MiddCORE, the Center for Social Entrepreneurship, TEDxMiddlebury and a host of others, PCI fosters a dynamic community of actively engaged thinkers and learners. This is an exciting community to be a part of: it is bursting with creative ideas and innovative individuals.

Alec MacMillen ’14 is one such individual. As a MiddCORE alum, a MiddCOREplus intern and the student speaker at this fall’s TEDx conference, Alec has embraced the opportunities Middlebury offers to expand education in new directions.

I had the chance to sit down with Alec this week to hear about his experience as a TEDx speaker and discuss the message he conveyed through his eighteen-minute TED talk, titled “The Extrovert Ideal and the Best Four Years of Your Life.” Continue reading

Embracing the Future of the Liberal Arts: Sarah James and Winson Law


Innovation. Social entrepreneurship. Experiential learning. Collaboration. Leadership. These are the buzzwords that educators and students are throwing around college campuses right now. As small liberal arts schools confront the challenges and opportunities that the 21st century, these are the concepts that are increasingly forming higher education’s response. Middlebury is at the forefront of this movement to explore and launch new educational initiatives, with a myriad of programs falling under the umbrella of the College’s roject on Creativity and Innovation. But sometimes all these ideas and concepts seem abstract and amorphous: how do they actually take shape? How are they put into practice? How are students growing as learners and leaders?

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Enter Sarah James ’16.5 and Winson Law ’16. Sarah and Winson are embodiments of a new, engaged kind of learner. They have embraced the exciting and dynamic exploration occurring in education today. They have plunged into the opportunities Middlebury offers to put the so-called “buzzwords” of education into real and meaningful practice. Continue reading

S’mores and Spooky Stories: A Halloween MiddCORE Reunion

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The night was strangely warm for late October. Gusts of wind shook the last remaining leaves from the skeletal trees. The whole atmosphere seemed unsettled and unpredictable. Out of the darkness, the MiddCORE house glowed like a jack-o’-lantern, and flames danced in the old fireplace. You could not have asked for a better night or a better place for Halloween stories. Continue reading

Catching up with MiddCORE Alumna Elyse Barnard

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Three months after MiddCORE Sierra Nevada wrapped up, we got in touch with alumna Elyse Barnard to hear how her Innovation Challenge is progressing. Elyse is one of handful of MiddCORE students who chose to continue pursuing their Innovation Challenges into the academic year. She has currently obtained a provisional patent for her product, a dental device that protects the mouth from the sharp wires that are part of braces and cause pain and scarring. The process of taking an abstract idea and making it into a tangible reality has been a complex and eye opening one, and there’s still a ways to go. But as Elyse, with her characteristic optimism and enthusiasm, said, “I am learning as I go along, and that is such a valuable process.”

Here, Elyse reflects on her time at Sierra Nevada, updates us on the progress of her Innovation Challenge, and articulates the impact MiddCORE has had on how she thinks about her future. Continue reading

MiddCOREplus, the Extended Edition: Naila Jahan Continues her Summer Work

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There is a distinctly wintry tinge to the Middlebury campus these days – fallen leaves, cool nights and crisp gray skies. But even as the students and MiddCORE team make the transition to fall and winter, there are remnants still of summer to be found. For Naila Jahan, this means that her work as a MiddCOREplus intern for the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET) this past summer is carrying right into the rest of the year. Continue reading

MiddCORE Open House over Fall Family Weekend

Amidst a full lineup of activities, athletic events and lectures – not to mention gorgeous autumn weather – a steady stream of students and their parents found time to stop by the MiddCORE Open House over Fall Family Weekend, October 11 – 13, 2013.

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The doors of the new MiddCORE house were wide open to the beautiful fall sunlight, inviting families to stop in for a chat. The conversations ranged from those brand new to the program asking questions and gathering information to MiddCORE alums reminiscing about their experiences and memories.

It was a time to both connect and reconnect, to expand networks and reinforce old relationships. Add a few cider donuts and pumpkins to the mix, and the MiddCORE Open House was a smashing success.


Jonathan Miller-Lane on MiddCORE

“Education is intelligently directed development of the possibilities inherent in ordinary experience….and that, I think, is really what’s happening at MiddCORE…”

As one of the MiddCORE Facilitators this summer, Jonathan Miller-Lane has been able to get a bird’s eye view of all that has happened for his students throughout the MiddCORE program.  Watch the video above to hear his full thoughts on pedagogy and the MiddCORE program.  Segments of his reflection can be read below. Continue reading

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