the author, Miriam Weinstein
to Making A Difference.
In the early 90's, as a mother of four,
I began the the college search journey with my children. As a person
deeply committed to the environment, to living sustainably and with
integrity, and with strong interests in social responsibility, my
search took on a different flavor than most. I wanted more than
a "business as usual" education for my children, I wanted
one that would encourage them to be engaged citizens, with the knowledge
and tools to make a difference. I wanted green colleges. No one
I knew was aware of any such colleges. No college counselors discussed
them. No college guides wrote about them. So I developed my own
extensive criteria - much of it extracted from my experience at
the small college with a big vision I had just attended and then
started searching diligently. This was no easy feat before the days
of the world wide web!
the same time, I was myself seeking deeply meaningful work which
could make a profound difference for a healthy future of my children,
as well as all life on earth. A years meditation fruited one morning
upon awakening - I could publish a college guide focused on environmental
- now called "green" colleges. This would enable a ripple
effect, as committed young people graduated and went out into the
world to make a difference. The entire book coalesced that morning
within one hour. I felt this would be my service to the world, and
over the next years, all the doors quickly opened for me to do this
work. I might add, at the time, I was a very low income single mother,
with no computer and no knowlege of how to use one. Nor had I a
background in publishing, education, marketing or research. I was
armed solely with a vision and dedication. Yet, the colleges I approached
responded enthusiastically, and Making A Difference College
Guide began to take form. In fact, the first edition was
published an amazing nine months after I first conceived of it.
said, I quickly discovered that a guide to green colleges at that
time, would have merely been a pamphlet - there were so few of them!
I expanded my idea to include "making a difference" colleges
- those with unique concerns for social responsibility, colleges
with a strong emphasis upon peace and social justice. I learned
about the new "service learning" movement, and discovered
"work colleges" and religious/spiritual colleges with
strong social concerns. I investigated "pedagogy" - the
art and science of teaching - seeking institutions offering holistic
and interdisciplinary learning. I studied individual curriculums
and extra-curricular aspects, study abroad programs, looked for
vegetarian friendly colleges (a rarity back then), organic gardens
(another rarity) and (rarest of all) green buildings. I learned
about the ins and outs of financial aid, as well as factors that
could help a student attend their college of choice. In short, I
became a self-taught expert on green and socially responsible colleges.
the years I found remarkable colleges, and I'm pleased to share
them with you. Over 16 years, I published ten editions of Making
A Difference College Guide. I also researched
and published three highly regarded editions of the Making
A Difference Scholarship Guide. Now that the notion of
a green college has finally reached the mainstream, and as major
college guides and magazines are now featuring "green collegees"
- my work as a publisher is done. I will note, however, I find most
of their research and their concept of "green" education
to be fairly shallow. There is a significant difference in a college
that has just recently jumped on board and calls itself green because
it has green administrative practices and a green dorm -- and a
college with longstanding - and even historic - concerns for the
environment, peace and social justice. Now I plan to segue all my
years of learning into "making a difference" college counseling.
What exactly what comprises a green education? According to other
quides, a college can be a top green one when 47% of it's graduates
go into investment banking. Not in Making A Difference!
My criteria - which are flexible - focus first on the college ethos
and mission, majors, teaching style, holistic emphasis, careers
of graduates, opportunities for service learning, an ethic of service,
environmental concerns being front and center. Yes, investments
count, recycling counts, transportation policies counts, but hopefully
you are going to college for an education and to change the world,
not for the college's green administrative policies. I think it
is critical to walk the talk, but the primary and most essential
components are the education, and that's what I evaluate first.
My work speaks to the student who wants to spend their life making
a difference, whether locally or internationally, working with children
or working with wildlife, working in business for themselves, or
in helping corporations become sustainable and attend to the "triple
bottom line" of "people, planet, profit.'
grew up in a unique time and place - an entire community of folks
who wanted to make a more just world - and that has impacted my
whole life. I've been active in social and environmental causes
since age 13, beginning with the civil rights movement, and later,
the anti-nuclear movement. I dropped out of college in the 60's
and went "back to the land", raised a large family plus
various animals, explored eastern and earth-based spirituality,
and became an early advocate of green building. I returned to college
mid-life and graduated from New College of California (now defunct),
which served as the inspiration for Making A Difference Colleges.
eldest son graduated from a college I learned about while researching
the guide (Warren Wilson College), and my youngest daughter also
attended that college before graduating from New College. I might
add, at the time, Warren Wilson was a small, little known, mostly
local college. No college guide mentioned it. It now has a strong
national reputation and a growing student body.
I am now embarking on my next phase of service as a green college
counselor. In accordance with my set of ethics, I won't charge $125
an hour, or force you into a long series of meetings so as to personally
enrich myself at your expense. ! I am happy to meet with you anywhere
via SKYPE. Working together, we will do a meaningful and efficient
search, taking into consideration the family finances, as well as
your visions of a good life and a meaningful education. I look forward
to working with you and your family. For more information, click
Thank you for visiting this site. It tells me you
are among those committed to making a better world, and a member
of the real world wide web! I am deeply grateful to you. You are
the genuine hope of the future, and you are desperately needed.
At the same time, please, enjoy life - dance, walk in nature, travel,
garden, grow spiritually.