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 2016
Students participating in the 2016 Summer Institute can select one 3-credit course from either (or both) of the 10-day summer blocks (Block A: May 16-May 27 & Block B: May 31-June 11). 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.

Detailed information about course offerings for the 2016 Morven Summer Institute can also be seen on the Summer Programs website (updates still to come for 2016!): Office of Summer Programs

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 Tessa Crews, Morven Summer Institute Student Coordinator: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Morven Institute Block A: May 16-May 27
Morven Institute Block B: May 31-June 11


Willis Jenkins: RELG/GSVS 3559: Food, Farming, and the Good Life: Agrarianism in Thought and Practice

Can good farming teach one the shape of a good life? A long tradition of agrarian thought thinks about virtue, citizenship, and beauty through portraits of the independent farmer. Considering the current renewal of interests in food and agriculture – especially in “alternative” and “sustainable” forms – this seminar reads classic agrarian writing, along with feminist and postcolonial criticism. Readings include Virgil, Thomas Jefferson, Wendell Berry, Vandana Shiva, Michael Pollan, Gary Snyder, Julie Guthman, and bell hooks. Because agrarianism often insists right thinking is cultivated through agricultural practice, this seminar includes work in the soil of the Morven Kitchen Garden.

Phoebe Crisman: GSVS 3500/ARCH 3500: Sustainable Communities

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.


Paul Freedman: PLAP 3160: Politics of Food

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.

Lisa Russ Spaar: ENLT 2555: Ecosystems and Egosystems: Contemporary American Environmental Autobiographies

To paraphrase Nobel-prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney, one function of literature is to write place, and the self-in-place, into existence. In this course, we will look at a range of autobiographical literary texts by contemporary memoirists and poets who believe, like poet Charles Wright, that “all landscape is autobiographical.” Memoirs and poems will provide an occasion for exploring the synergies between our natural environment (challenged, vexed, imperiled, revelatory) and our selves and our bodies, including the eco-poetics of “otherly abled bodies.” Our notions of environmental autobiography will be dilated and deepened to include not only matters of site specificity and theme, but will consider as well how certain formal literary methods reflect ecological processes: complexity, non-linearity, feedback loops, serial thinking, and possibly even recycling or the ways in which “slow poetry” might relate to the sustainable, regional economy of “eating locally.” Could ecology itself, in fact, as William Howarth suggests in “Some Principles of Ecocriticism,” be at least in part a metaphorical endeavor in its reliance on figurative language and its connections to the history of human expression?

Students will write short response papers, make forays onto Morven grounds, enjoy class visits by memoirists, environmental writers, and poets, and complete a final project: their own eco-autobiographies, which could take the form of a memoir-like piece or a series of poems, with accompanying prose analysis.

Tuition (3 credits @ $334/credit): $1,002
Comprehensive Fee: $354
Morven Institute Fee: $450
Total: $1,806

Tuition (3 credits @ $380/credit): $1,140
Comprehensive Fee: $354
Morven Institute Fee: $450
Total: $1,944

Tuition (3 credits @ $1,176/credit): $3,528
Comprehensive Fee: $413
Morven Institute Fee: $450
Total: $4,391

Tuition (3 credits @ $770 credit): $2,310
Comprehensive Fee: $413
Morven Institute Fee: $450
Total: $3,173

The Morven Summer Institute 2014