February, 2011

Burlington College President Jane Sanders: An Expanding Vision, not Just a Pretty View

College is a formative experience for most students, bridging their present lives to a positive future and opening broad new horizons of possibility. Every now and again, a college gets to go through the same phenomenon.

“It’s transformational for Burlington College,” college president Jane Sanders says of the institution’s recent move from their old 95 North Avenue campus to their new digs at the former offices of the Burlington Catholic Diocese at 351 North Avenue. “It’s fabulous. We are leaving a 16,000 square foot building on 2 acres to a 77,000 square foot building on 34 acres. Instead of a lake view, we have lakefront.”

The move makes Burlington College the only Vermont college with a beach – an enormous marketing attraction, since beaches and college students go together like Ben and Jerry. “We brought the students over here to see it, and when we were first talking about the move, they were a bit worried, because they want to stay a small community,” Sanders says. “But within an hour they were playing Frisbee and juggling on the beach and saying, ‘We can live with this.’”

A sandy strand, important though it may be, is the least of the move’s benefits. With its expanded footprint, Burlington College stands poised to make its mark in the panoply of Vermont’s higher-education institutions.


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Jane Sanders

Improving the Lives of Women and Girls, One Soap Opera at a Time: Population Media Center


When the lives of women and girls improve, the rest of the world follows. This assertion was agreed upon by the United Nations Population Fund, the 1995 World Conference on Women in Beijing and the 1994 Cairo Program of Action. And it’s the guiding principle of Population Media Center (PMC), a Shelburne, Vermont-based non-profit which uses media to effect social change around the world.

The form of “media” PMC uses is serial dramas, or soap operas. Characters model behaviors that empower individuals to make gradual changes in their own lives. The soap operas are broadcast primarily via radio because television is often unavailable in countries where reproductive issues greatly impact quality of life.

To encourage listeners to keep tuning in, PMC puts a premium on high entertainment value through well-written characters and plot lines. At the same time, the topics these programs explore distinguish them from the light fare familiar to most U.S. soap-opera fans. They include female genital mutilation; rape; women’s empowerment; family planning; AIDS/HIV prevention, stigma reduction, and testing; child trafficking; environmental preservation; child and maternal health; reproductive health, including sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention; and obstetric fistula. PMC has projects in Asia, Africa, North and South America, and Oceania.


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