Dr. Mitchell Thomashow


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Thomashow devotes his life and work to promoting ecological awareness, sustainable living, creative learning, improvisational thinking, social networking, and organizational excellence. Currently he is engaged in teaching, writing, and executive consulting, cultivating opportunities and exchanges that transform how people engage with sustainability, ecological learning and the arts.

In January 2016, Thomashow accepted a Fellowship at Philanthropy Northwest. The Fellowship promotes awareness of sustainability, community, and place. The emphasis is on building social capital, intellectual leadership, and organizational effectiveness in promoting sustainability, community engagement, ecological awareness, diversity and inclusion, place-based solutions, public education, and the arts. Thomashow works closely with Philanthropy Northwest and regional foundations to develop an exemplary network of innovative approaches to these issues and to facilitate constructive public conversations. 

From 2011-2015 Thomashow was the Director of the Presidential Fellows Program at Second Nature. He assisted the executive leadership of colleges and universities in promoting a comprehensive sustainability agenda on their campuses, provided executive consulting on climate action planning, organizational leadership, curricular implementation, and community investment.

From 2006-2011, Thomashow was the president of Unity College in Maine. With his management team, he integrated concepts of ecology, sustainability, natural history, wellness, participatory governance, and community service into all aspects of college and community life. This included construction of The Unity House, the first LEED Platinum President’s Residence in North America, and the TeraHaus, a passive house student residence, as well as comprehensive campus energy planning, an integrated approach to growing food on campus, and a new academic master plan.

Previously from 1976-2006, Thomashow was the Chair of the Environmental Studies program at Antioch University New England. He founded an interdisciplinary environmental studies doctoral program and worked collaboratively to grow and nourish a suite of engaging Masters programs, geared to working adults.

His three books have significantly influenced environmental studies education. Ecological Identity: Becoming a Reflective Environmentalist (The MIT Press, 1995) offers an approach to teaching environmental education based on reflective practice—a guide to teachers, educators and concerned citizens that incorporates issues of citizenship, ecological identity, and civic responsibility within the framework of environmental studies. Bringing the Biosphere Home, (The MIT Press, 2001) is a guide for learning how to perceive global environmental change. It shows readers that through a blend of local natural history observations, global change science, the use of imagination and memory, and philosophical contemplation, you can learn how to broaden your spatial and temporal view so that it encompasses the entire biosphere.  

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His latest book, published in March 2014, The Nine Elements of a Sustainable Campus (The MIT Press) provides a framework for advancing sustainable living and teaching in a variety of campus environments.  

Thomashow is currently working on a new writing project. Environmental Learning in the Anthropocene, a series of essays describing the educational strategies and approaches necessary for interpreting and understanding six prevailing challenges: The Urban Planet, Cosmopolitan Cultures, Ecological Equity, Information Networks, Synthetic Biology, and the Digitalization of Learning. See his column in Terrain magazine (www.terrain.org). 

For four decades, Thomashow has lived in the hill country of southwest New Hampshire in the shadow of Mount Monadnock. He loves to explore the fields, forests, wetlands, hills, and lakes of Northern New England. He and his wife Cindy still have a home there. Now he spends much of the year in Seattle where he is learning about the extraordinary Pacific Northwest. His recreational interests include basketball, baseball, bicycling, board games, jazz piano, electronic keyboards, musical composition and recording, guitars, hiking, and lake swimming.