Block B Classes

Block B is June 2-June 13 and features two classes: Global Health Policy and Practice and Sustainability and Human Needs.

Global Health Policy and Practice (PHS 5184) is taught by Professor Rebecca Dillingham. This class will explore the topic of Global Health and assess how individuals, organizations, and the government became involved in Global Health as well as the ways in which each of these are involved.

Sustainability and Human Needs (STS 3500/SYS 4502) is taught by Professor Garrick Louis. This class focuses on answering the question: What is a sustainable quality of life or standard of living? It will compare consumption in industrialized countries to that of emerging countries. The class will look at sustainability in terms of basic human needs as well the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. The class will also look into the costs of achieving these goals.

Don’t forget sign up for MSI classes starts tomorrow on UVA SIS.

Just Announced: The Morven Summer Institute will offer four partial scholarships for the summer of 2014!

The Morven Summer Institute (MSI) serves to bring University students out to Morven Farm and into a “living laboratory”—a physical space where they can address questions of sustainability, ecology, and public health by conducting their own research, interacting with their environment, and making both local and global connections. Morven Farm is a 3,000 acre working farm owned by UVa located 15 minutes from Grounds. Through MSI, the farm becomes an extension of the Academical Village, promoting interdisciplinary collaboration and enriching students’ education through experiential learning. In the past, students have selected from courses in architecture and social science, such as the Politics of Food and Farmers Market Research, and from environmental science classes in agro-ecology and food and nutrition.

This year, the program is widening its scope, offering not only the Food Politics and Agro-Ecology courses, but also courses in Sustainability and Human Need and Global Health. Students in these classes conduct experiments in the kitchen garden to test the effects of natural pesticides and gardening techniques, and compare land use and production.

Application and selection process:

  1. Short essay (300-500 words): Why are you interested in taking a course at the Morven Summer Institute? How does MSI fit into your past and future coursework, past experience in food/agriculture/sustainability, and your post-graduation plans?
  2. Please submit your essay, copies of your resume and transcript (from SIS), and three references by April 23 to Whitney Farmer, Morven Farm Programs Assistant,
  3. Selection criteria: The MSI committee will select scholarship recipients on the basis of the essay, financial need, resume, transcript, and references and will notify recipients on May 2, 2014 by email.


Block A Classes

In Block A (May 19- May 30) Morven will be offering two classes: Farmers Market, Food Politics and Research Methods (PLAP 4500) as well as Agro Ecology (EVSC 4559)

Farmers Market, Food Politics and Research Methods is taught by Professor Paul Friedman and looks into the politics of Food and Food Systems with a main focus on farmers markets. The students will do research into what role farmers markets play in the American Food System as well Local and Federal legislation that effects farmers markets. This class will provide students with the opportunity to intern with the Virginia farmers market.

Agro Ecology is taught by Professor Manual Lerdau. This class will look at different ways of using the ecological theory to improve agriculture. It will integrate the biology of crops into an ecological view of growth and production. The class will look at traditional and modern breeding approaches as well as the roles of economic and sociocultural factors in designing ecologically aware agricultural systems.


Don’t forget to sign up for these classes as well as Block B classes on April 14 and 15 through SIS!!

A Little History of Morven

With registration for summer classes just around the corner here is a little history of Morven that might spark your interest. The land that Morven lays on today was originally given to William Champe Carter in 1730. In 1795 Thomas Jefferson purchased the piece of property for his “adopted son” Colonel William Short. Once purchasing the property Jefferson managed the grounds and constructed the Claim House in 1796. In 1813 Jefferson deeded the property to a man by the name of David Higginbotham. Higginbotham renamed the property “Morven” and constructed the main house that still stands today. Throughout the years Morven changed hands many times before John Kluge purchased the estate. In 2001 Kluge donated Morven to the University of Virginia. The gift consisted of 7,379 acres. The University sold off parts of the estate but still holds 2,913 acres. There are many different projects happening at Morven today, one of which includes the Morven Summer Institute. MSI is a rigorous “May Term” which gives the student unique hands on experience in their field of interest. Registration for The Morven Summer Institute begins April 14 and 15 through SIS!

Come to an MSI Info Session!

The Morven Summer Institute faculty and staff invite you to join us for an info session!

Thursday, March 6 @ 5:30 pm

Minor Hall 125

Wednesday, March 19 @ 6 pm

Clark Hall 108

At this session:

  • learn about our brand new course offerings, including classes in engineering and public health,
  • Meet the stellar cast of Summer Institute professors and staff,
  • Hear testimonies from last year’s MSI students,
  • And get a glimpse of the daily schedule and unique program highlights!

MSI 2014 poster info session NEW PHS

Day 11: Congratulations MSI Block B Students — You Did It!

After three days of pretty much continuous rain here at Morven, the skies are finally clearing up and the sun it poking it’s head out of the clouds! And what better timing than for our final day at the 2013 Morven Summer Institute!

MSI Block B Students, Staff, and Faculty.

MSI Block B Students, Staff, and Faculty.

Today we are treated to 12 final presentations from the students of Block B of MSI. Student presentations from the Food and Nutrition class will cover a wide variety of topics ranging from the American obesity epidemic to genetic modification of crops to food deserts. The students of the Farmers Market Research class will be presenting on a number of Farmers Markets throughout Virginia.

The line-up for presentations is…

Chris Cempre´ – The Link of Wheat to Obesity: Fact or Fiction?

Bethany Gordon – The South of the James Farmer’s Market Mobility Research Initiative

Emily Caccamo – A Proposal for how America can Simultaneously Cut CO2 Emissions and National Average BMI

Cameron Langille – Yorktown Market Days

Allison Rhea – Dangers of Overuse of Pesticides on Large-Scale Farms: Can current efficiency lead to future sustainability?

Carli Goldberg – SEED

Charlie Garcia – Food Production and the One Child Policy

Adam Rosen – Charlottesville City Market: Discovering Physical Market Preferences

Kelly Mill – Location, Location, Location: Targeting Food Deserts to Halt the Obesity Epidemic

Hannah Morgan – The Economic Impact of the Charlottesville City Market: A Research Proposal

Food and Nutrition In a Changing World Joint Class Presentation – How to Sell at a Farmers Market

It has been such a pleasure getting to know you all and your many intellectual strengths! I hope everyone enjoyed the Morven Summer Institute, I certainly did!

Day 10: A Good Day for Galoshes

Rain trickling off the rooftop of the meeting barn.

Rain trickling off the rooftop of the meeting barn.

Phewie, it’s raining cats and dogs in Charlottesville today! It’s actually quite a lovely day to be inside, listening to the rain on the rooftop of the meeting barn. Luckily we have planned a full morning of great (indoor) presentations on sustainable food systems and accessibility to healthy, local foods.

Today, both classes will listen to four special presentations by women and men involved in the local food movement around the greater DC/VA/MD areas.

Today's MSI speakers: (from left to right) James Wallace,

Today’s MSI speakers: (from left to right) James Wallace, Karen Atkinson, Kathi Colen Peck, and Leanne Du Bois.

First up is James Wallace, who will be speaking on food desserts, access to healthy food, and community health in Richmond, Virginia.

Next, we are joined by Leanne Du Bois, who works for the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS). VDACS strives to promote the economic viability of agriculture and farming in Virginia. Leanne works in promotions and marketing for, among other organizations, farmers markets and the seafood industry in Virginia. Leanne is also the Virginia Farm-to-School Program Coordinator.

Third to speak is Kathi Colen Peck, from the Farmers Market Managers Association.

Finally, we will hear from Karen Atkinson, founder and director of FeedRVA and GrowRVA in Richmond.

Day 9: A Plug for the Morven Kitchen Garden

Hi friends!

Fresh-cut flowers from the Morven Kitchen Garden.

Fresh-cut flowers from the Morven Kitchen Garden.

We are enjoying a nice fresh, rainy summer day out here at Morven. As the plants are outside soaking up the deluge of water, our students are inside soaking up tons of knowledge as we wrap up the last few days of classes.

Since it’s sort of a slower day here, I’d like to take this opportunity to fill everyone in on the history and current status of the Morven Kitchen Garden (MKG), since after all, it ties in very well to what students are learning about here at MSI.

The Morven Kitchen Garden.

The Morven Kitchen Garden.

The one-acre cultivated plot that is the Morven Kitchen Garden was established by UVA students three years ago. Students reclaimed a plot that had been organically cultivated for John Kluge from 1989-1999, but laid fallow for more than ten years during which time it was taken over by various trees and wild plants. As you may know, the Morven property was originally purchased by Thomas Jefferson in the late 18th century. Jefferson used the property, known then as “Indian Camp,” as a grounds for tenant-farm labor agricultural experimentation. With the same goals of agricultural experimentation and innovation, UVA students today use the MKG as a “natural space for agricultural learning.”

(See MKG “State of the Garden Report” at

Lettuces from the MKG.

Lettuces from the MKG.

This Summer, the MKG is in its third growing season, and let me tell you, things are growing strong! The garden has seen a few major transitions over the past year, as three of the original student founders of the garden, Michelle Rehme, Marie Schacht, and Rowan Sprague, have begun (or are in the process of beginning) new life ventures that take them away from the MKG. But with an every blossoming new crop of garden managers and volunteers, the garden continues to flourish! Just next week, managers of the garden will be starting this season’s CSA program for local community members. If you are interested in signing up for that, contact Isabel Greenberg at

Two MKG leaders -- Rowan Sprague (right) and Isabel Greenberg (left) -- just finished with harvesting 101 radishes!

Two MKG leaders — Rowan Sprague (right) and Isabel Greenberg (left) — just finished with harvesting 101 radishes!

New this year in the MKG is a joint UVA faculty-graduate-undergraduate research project on sunflowers! This project will be researching and experimenting with sunflower genes, in the hopes of discovering the genetic basis for why sunflowers are heliotropic (germinating sunflower buds actually follow the sun across the sky throughout the day and then reset again at night to repeat the movement the next day!)

One of the experimental sunflower seedlings.

One of the experimental sunflower seedlings.

The research group has grown the sunflower seedlings in a greenhouse lab, planted them in a quadrant in the MKG, and will be tracking their daily movement in the garden with over 20 different cameras placed alongside the flowers (see below).

Those aren't a bunch of three-legged aliens in our garden -- they're the tripod cameras used by the UVA sunflower research team to track sunflower heliotropism!

Those aren’t a bunch of three-legged aliens in our garden — they’re the tripod cameras used by the UVA sunflower research team to track sunflower heliotropism!

Day 8: Recap of Last Night’s BBQ + Japanese Garden!

Sunny skies, cool breeze, picnic blankets, watermelon, ice tea, lemonade, mac n’ cheese, BBQ, good company, a frisbee and awesome ‘slaw!…we couldn’t have had a more wonderful time at the MSI Barbecue last night!

Mingling at the MSI Barbecue.

Mingling at the MSI Barbecue.

It was all smiles and full mouths (but luckily not simultaneously) at the barbecue yesterday! With plenty of good food to eat and interesting people to talk to, last night was a hoot (even for the vegetarians, like myself!)

Looking down the table...

Looking down the table…something must have been pretty funny!

This morning we had another special activity, taking a trip down to the Japanese Garden at Morven! That garden never ceases to amaze. With its imported trees and woods from Japan and it’s large boulders taken out of the mountains of the Blue Ridge– you feel as though you’ve stepped out of Charlottesville and onto the cool, peaceful, mountainous terrain of Japan!

Meg leading MSI students around the Japanese Garden.

Meg leading MSI students around the Japanese Garden.

Once again, Japanese Garden Curator, Meg Faison, led us on an inspiring and informative tour around the garden.

Japanese Maples straight from the source! (Thanks Mr. Kluge!)

Japanese Maples straight from the source! (Thanks to Mr. Kluge!)

Lastly, I had to include this one since it’s filling the air with such a lovely smell…

The magnolias are starting to bloom!

The magnolias are starting to bloom!