College of the Atlantic, located in coastal Bar Harbor, Maine, provides many opportunities for st...College of the Atlantic, located in coastal Bar Harbor, Maine, provides many opportunities for students to work on sustainability issues, which is part of why it is Princeton Review's #1 green college.

Through the inclusion of community insights, collaborative learning, co-curricular opportunities, disciplinary knowledge, and practical application of course content, Friedlander’s courses provide students with frameworks and resources they draw on for years after graduation.

COA professors routinely work across disciplinary boundaries. As Nick Harris—2012 COA graduate and co-founder of Berkeley Yeast—reports, COA is a small school, with about 350 students and one professor in each discipline. He says the college has “knocked down all department separation; the professors collaborate with the students and are not siloed.” As a professor at COA, Friedlander focuses on inviting the community and other types of knowledge into the classroom, “bringing together the subject and the world, thinking and doing.” In this model, students interact with one other and the community, implementing the things they’ve learned by “practicing in situ” to “open new worlds of knowledge.” Students thereby develop the skills to create ventures and organizations that can respond to complex, real-world needs.

College of the Atlantic Sharpe-McNally Chair of Green and Socially Responsible Business Jay Fried...College of the Atlantic Sharpe-McNally Chair of Green and Socially Responsible Business Jay FriedlanderDisrupting Preconceptions
Friedlander’s approaches disrupt conventional thinking and often give students profound insights to use throughout their lives. For example, Friedlander reframes the concept of failure for his students. He says that when college students are taught that they have to succeed at everything, often they become risk-averse and fear failure. These attitudes, he notes, are not helpful for exploring new answers and finding new solutions. In all of his courses, Friedlander invites students to talk about things that go wrong. “What they think of as failure is life,” he says. “The question is how you interface with it.” He hastens to add that he’s not encouraging people to fail recklessly; rather, he aims to help students understand that most things go wrong, and they need to be able to adjust and address missteps.

Friedlander also challenges the typical idea of sustainability; he views the idea as much richer than simply sustaining life. In his framework, sustainability stems from an “abundant mindset” and strives for inspiring ends: to heal the community, help people prosper, cause no harm, and repair the environment. The goal is to find ways to “recreate the world and do it in a way that is less harmful,” he says.

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