Morven Summer Institute

The Morven Summer Institute is an innovative summer program hosted at Morven Farm, an emerging landscape for interdisciplinary learning for the University of Virginia. At the Morven Summer Institute, undergraduate and graduate students with interests in sustainability, design, food systems, and ecology have the opportunity to escape traditional confines of the classroom while working on projects with real-world applications.

The Morven Summer Institute 2017
Students participating in the 2017 Summer Institute can select one 3-credit course from either (or both) of the 10-day summer blocks (Block A: May 15-May 26 & Block B: May 30-June 9). In conjunction with time spent in the classroom at Morven, this interdisciplinary program features guest speakers, field trips, active group discussions, and hands-on projects to ignite creative collaboration among students and faculty. Students from all years, departments, and outside Universities are welcome to join the Morven community for this unique program.

For a glimpse at all you'll learn and do during the Morven Summer Institute experience, check out the MSI Blog!

To speak with a member of the Morven Programs staff, contact Danielle Loleng, Program Assistant: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or Katherine Wilkin, Morven Summer Institute Student Coordinator: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Morven Institute Block A: May 15 - May 26
Morven Institute Block B: May 30 - June 9


Leidy Klotz: Climate Mitigation via Connected Design Thinking (GSVS 3559/STS 3500)

Sample Syllabus

Think of this course as climate reparations through a distributed Manhattan Project. We will work together to develop an online experience to engage and support people worldwide in innovating to address climate change. Our product will be hosted on Coursera, where free online courses enroll tens of thousands of learners in a single offering. To develop the course, we will need to learn the content, including how we use energy, ways we could reduce our use, and ways to produce it more sustainably. We will also learn basics of innovation from a design thinking perspective. With this knowledge, we will develop the content for the online course, which may include examples, videos, activities, and support structures that help learners develop effective innovations and move them closer to reality.

Any UVA student can learn from and contribute to this course. We need designers, including engineers, capable of understanding and communicating technical innovations for sustainable energy and other ways to mitigate climate change. We need educators who want to find the best ways to achieve student learning outcomes in a powerful new education model. We need entrepreneurs to ensure the innovations can be self-sustaining and even profitable.

Paul Freedman: Politics of Food (PLAP/GSVS 3160)

Sample Syllabus

How and what we eat is basic to who we are as individuals, as a culture, and as a polity. This course looks at the production and consumption of food in a political context. Food politics and policies have critical implications for the environment, for public health, for political equality, and for budget priorities. This course looks at food politics through a series of “food fights.” We will examine controversies over agricultural subsidies, labeling requirements, taxation, farming practices, food safety, advertising and education. In doing so, we will explore some of the most important features of American democracy, including legislative politics, regulation, interest group activity, federalism, public opinion, political communication, and representation. Ultimately we will examine the ways in which the politics of food represents both a reflection and a distortion of fundamental democratic principles.


Phoebe Crisman: Sustainable Communities (GSVS 3559/ARCH 3500/ARCH 5500)

Sample Syllabus

This course investigates the principles of sustainable community development—environmental quality, economic health, and social equity—as reflected in buildings, rural landscapes, towns, and cities. Through case studies, class activities and site visits, we will examine how communities impact and improve basic environmental-quality variables such as air and water quality, food supply, mobility, energy, and sense of place.

Garrick Louis: Sustainability & Human Needs (SYS/STS 4502/GSGS 3559)

Sample Syllabus: Part 1 | Sample Syllabus: Part 2 | Sample Syllabus: Part 3

What is a sustainable quality of life or standard of living? Is it at the current level of consumption in industrialized countries like the U.S., in emerging economies like China, or in lower-income countries like Kenya? How should governments balance the need to create national income and provide for the human needs of their citizens, against the desire to conserve natural resources and the environment for future generations? Sustainable Development allows a society to satisfy its present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Sustainability is a principle that allows societies to achieve sustainable development. Will the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals foster sustainability for all? What are effective strategies for addressing urbanization and global food security in the context of climate change?

This course will take a systematic approach to addressing these questions. It will begin with a review of system analysis; then use these fundamentals to evaluate sustainability in the context of human needs. The course will examine the technology and policy approaches to satisfying these needs, including the externalities they incur and the tradeoffs involved between social benefit and environmental impact. We will analyze the roles of government, civic society, and industry in implementing sustainability at the national level. The course will examine case studies of innovative approaches to sustainability in high- and low-income countries.

Tuition (3 credits @ $377/credit): $1,131
Comprehensive Fee: $386
Morven Institute Fee: $450
Total: $1,967

Tuition (3 credits @ $422/credit): $1,266
Comprehensive Fee: $386
Morven Institute Fee: $450
Total: $2,102

Tuition (3 credits @ $1,347/credit): $4,041
Comprehensive Fee: $466
Morven Institute Fee: $450
Total: $4,957

Tuition (3 credits @ $856 credit): $2,568
Comprehensive Fee: $446
Morven Institute Fee: $450
Total: $3,464

The Morven Summer Institute 2014