Tag Archives: Sterling College


I’m teaching an environmental philosophy senior seminar at Sterling College this semester titled Posthumanism. The premise of the course is to think about how it might change our relationship with both one another and with the non-human world if we reframed our perspective to no longer see humans at the center of the world.


We begin our twice-weekly foray into the posthuman by dipping into the Copernican revolution and the rise and deconstruction of Cartesian dualism and build a scaffold of phenomenology and postmodernism to empower us to blur the boundaries between the human and the non-human.

To ask, quite literally, where do you end and where does the world begin? 

Throughout the course, we summarily explore the end of nature, the demise of metanarratives, the slipperiness of fact and truth, the ineffectiveness of language, and sometimes get very very depressed.

In those moments of existential despair, though, we come back to time and again the idea that we are ultimately, bodily, inextricably connected with the world and everything and everyone else in it — and if we can learn to accept and embrace that connection, we can strengthen our relationships with one another first.

The key to understanding posthumanism, it turns out, is first understanding how we can be more human, more civil, more caring toward one another.

Only then, I believe, can we make any meaningful lasting change for a more resilient and positive future.




The Sterling Skyrunners competed at the Wolf Hollow Half Marathon and 5k this past Sunday — with Sterling runners placing 2nd, 8th, 11th, and others finishing in the top 20 and placing in their age groups. I ran a solid but relatively conservative race myself — taking more pride in seeing so many of my students push themselves up to and even beyond what they thought were their limits that day.

I am honored and humbled to be in a place where I can not only direct the program and coach the team but also spend my time training alongside some very gifted student-athletes.

When people ask me why I take on projects like Climate Run: Iceland last year or running the Arctic Trail next summer — and how I keep going through all the training and all the miles — these students are my greatest inspiration. I hope that I’m able to give them a little in return.




Telling stories

Last Tuesday, I gave a presentation about Climate Run: Iceland at Sterling College. In many ways it seems like a long time since I finished my trans-Icelandic run in June 2015 — but sharing the story of my passion for running, training, and sharing ideas about embracing vulnerability as a way to build climate resilience — all of this helps me to stay connected with the experience and with all the people who I have talked with over the last year. And it gets me up at 4:00 am nearly every day to keep training for what comes next.


One student asked me what kept me going despite some of the challenges I faced along the 150-mile run. I thought for a minute and then explained that I was never in it by myself — I had family, friends, and many people I’d never even met supporting me, following my progress, and wanting to share in my adventure. Even when I was 20 miles from the next nearest person in the middle of northern Icelandic tundra, I never felt completely alone.

I’m excited to have the chance to share my story on November 4th at 7:00 pm at the Whitney Community Center in Jackson, NH.

I hope you can join me for an evening of stories, pictures, and conversation about how we can build communities of resilience in the face of climate change.




Movement & Mindfulness


The Movement and Mindfulness Labyrinth at Sterling College

I had the great pleasure of facilitating an intensive class called Movement and Mindfulness at Sterling College over the past two weeks. As part of the course, the students and I participated in on and off campus meditation sessions, moving conversation, Feldenkrais, Tai Chi, rock climbing, rowing, walking, event mappingJapanese forest bathing, walking meditation, running, yoga, yoga trance dance, labyrinth building, and lots of reflection. Nearly every day found us in a different place or thinking and moving in space a different way.

When I took on the course at the last moment, I had little idea of what to expect, and even less of an idea about how much an impact the course would have on me. I needed only about 15 minutes to decide to facilitate the class — mostly because it seemed a natural extension of my own expression of mindfulness through running over the past few years — and more so even since Climate Run: Iceland a year ago.


Community Rowing at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center

Over the past two weeks, our goal was simply to be open to exploring the embodiment of mindfulness through a broad range of physical, meditative, and reflective activities. What we actually did was far more significant and I anticipate much longer lasting; we learned to leave space for one another, we learned to find and trace the limits our ourselves, we learned to draw strength from the place where mind and movement intertwine.

There could hardly be more important lessons in any class.


Event mapping at Barr Hill, Greensboro, Vermont

Just before we closed class with a final session of Tai Chi out on the lawn beside our newly opened labyrinth during a reprieve from the day’s rain, we shared our definitions of key terms from the class. I was given Perception as Action, which could hardly have been more appropriate. After a couple of days thinking about Perception as Action, I came back to  the work of Matthew Tiessen (as I have elsewhere), who I think helped to ground the essential focus of our class:

Each of us is a site-in-process, a crossing, where forces come to play.


Rock climbing at Mount Wheeler, Sutton, Vermont

Always learning: lessons from students

I’ve had a couple of terrific experiences with students over the past few weeks– from teaching a two-week intensive class titled Resilience, Complexity, and Flow at Sterling College–to meeting with hundreds of students at Cannon School in Concord, NC last week.

Each of these gave me a chance to have some powerful and important conversations about what it means to be resilient, and how being vulnerable can be a way to become more powerful in the face of a changing climate and changing world.

My Sterling class ended with a conversation about perception and the precarity of balancing between self and place. We are always, the students seemed to agree, both within the world and at its margins–there isn’t really any terra firma on which to stand and assess the world, as we are bound to it, ever in flux.

This didn’t mean, for most students, that there was no meaningful path forward. In fact, the path ahead seems clearer–in a world already pushing (and even beyond) the limits of social and ecological capacity and sustainability, by better understanding the complexity our world and by embracing our own vulnerability can we begin to build a more resilient future.


After my presentation to middle school students at Cannon School, I was peppered with so many questions that we ran out of time! The students were so excited by my experience of running across Iceland and seemed to be looking for ways to connect Climate Run to their own experience of the world, that I could have talked with them all day!

It struck me that this was exactly why I was doing this–not only to share my experiences of endurance running and of seeing the effects of climate change firsthand, but to continue the conversation and to share and learn more about ideas of resilience and vulnerability from everyone I talk with–whether that’s a group of a dozen college students, or a room of 75 outdoor enthusiasts at the Green Mountain Club, or several hundred middle schoolers in North Carolina.

What I learn from each of these encounters can be just as meaningful and powerful as enduring hour mile after mile of unforgiving Arctic terrain.


Rainbow from the top of Kaldidalur Pass

Supporter Spotlight: Newton Running!

I’m very happy to newton logohave the support of Newton Running as I train for the Kjölur Run. Their BOCO AT has quickly become a favorite go-to shoe for the trails. The shoe’s weather-resistant design is especially great for this time of year!


IMG_2350I’ve had a few snowy and muddy runs in them so far, and they’ve worked great–both with and without microspikes. I’ve also been out on the roads with the Newton Gravity III mileage trainer. It’s a responsive and speedy shoe (not to mention an awesome, head-turning yellow : ). I’m looking forward to putting some more miles on them.


Newton has also been instrumental in supporting the Sterling College Trail, Mountain, Ultra Running Team, and the company has provided team members with BOCOs to use for this year.

Many thanks from all!


Newton Running is a great match for both Sterling and for the Iceland Climate Run; Newton is the only running shoe company that’s a certified B-Corp, which means they take into account social and environmental responsibility as part of their business plan. Simply put, B-Corps believe that “all business ought to be conducted as if people and place mattered.”

You can read Newton Running’s Corporate Responsibility Report here.


Kjölur Run Goes International!

The Kjölur Run project has made international news in the Nov. 24th issue of Iceland’s largest newspaper, Fréttablaðið!

Frett Pavel


Translated, with more than a little help from Google:

Kjölur Run

Environmental Advocate Wants to Draw Attention to Global Warming and Raise Scholarships.

“I’ve been teaching and learning about the environment for 20 years. I wanted to find ways to increase the gravitas of this debate and that more affect this global problem, global warming, “says American Pavel Cenkl.

He stands behind the initiative Kjölur Run. Cenkl is Athletic Director and Faculty at the Sterling College University in Vermont, which emphasizes environmental topics such as ecology, agriculture and stability of the environment from climate change.

Cenkl aims to run across Iceland next summer, but he now has launched a page on the site Indiegogo, both to finance the trip itself and to fund two scholarships to University Centre of the Westfjords and Sterling College. Fellowships will support students in studies related to environment and recreation. Cenkl taught a course in Iceland on behalf of Sterling College in 2007.

“Spreading the message could inspire others to consider climate change – particularly Athletes. I think sports and adventure enthusiasts have a very special connection with nature. If you push yourself physically and mentally your stamina in nature must immediately be connected more closely the environment,” he says.

“I want to provide athletes, who are often more visible in the media and are models for others to inspire others to make informed decisions about their own relationship with nature. “