An Experiential Education in Energy Poverty

For years, Project Gaia has partnered with Gettysburg College students and faculty on research projects. We have also tapped some of the brightest recent graduates and most promising students to work in our office and the field. Recently, we joined forces with the Gettysburg College Office of Experiential Education, an office on campus that provides students the opportunity to push themselves both mentally and physically by using the outdoors as a classroom.

Tucker Little, the Assistant Director of Experiential Education, and Hilary Landfried, our Project Manager, came up with the idea to provide the college community with a trip focusing on energy poverty in Ethiopia. Participants included students, faculty, and administrators. The trip aimed to use the work of Project Gaia to give students and faculty firsthand context for the topics they cover in classes. These include energy issues, renewable fuels, women’s and gender issues, public health, sustainability, and environmental conservation. The experience also led students to confront their expectations and the narratives they held about poverty in Africa.

The group traveled throughout Addis Ababa, spending their time learning about cookstoves and clean energy from the experts at Gaia Association. They climbed Mount Entoto, the same mountain numerous women climb daily to collect wood for cooking. They met with Kongi, a member of the Former Women Fuelwood Carriers Association, who uses ethanol to cook her family’s meals. The group toured the 1,000 liter per day microdistillery Gaia Association is building in Addis Ababa and learned about the fermentation process. In the Bale Mountains, the group trekked through wilderness and rural villages, learning more about how people cooked and earned their livelihoods. They also supported a ecotourism company that was set-up to give locals economic opportunities outside of collecting and selling fuelwood.

We are pleased to continue our long partnership with Gettysburg College and look forward to collaborating on similar projects in the future.


To learn more about the trip, please check out this article published by Gettysburg College.

For photos of the expedition, please visit Gettysburg College’s flickr site. Photos and video by Nathaniel Atwater.