Undergraduate Students

ASLE welcomes the participation of undergraduate students, many of whom are learning and conducting research under the guidance of ASLE members. In fact many ASLE members are on the faculty of department in the humanities and sciences in colleges that focus exclusively on undergraduate education. 

If you are an undergraduate student, we invite you to become a member of ASLE!

We encourage undergraduate involvement in ASLE, and specifically at the organization’s biennial conferences and off-year symposia.  To ensure that the experience is a positive one for the student(s) and faculty member(s), the Graduate Student Liaisons have developed this guide as a resource for faculty interested in involving their undergraduate students in ASLE: ASLE_Guide_FacultyUndergradEngagement 

We also hope that you will find inspiration in the field-defining statements of our members; learn more about our intellectual commitments through our member profiles; discover opportunities in our featured course and research spotlights; seek materials for education and enrichment in our resource pages and archives; imagine a path to graduate study by browsing our program descriptions; or simply experience the fellowship of people who celebrate the joy, wonder, and gratitude that comes from active engagement with the living world.

ASLE Undergraduate Testimonials

Jen Smith, PhD candidate in Ethnic Studies Department, University of California, Berkeley: “Attending an ASLE conference was a great decision for me as an undergraduate student. The conference familiarized me with a field and allowed me to gain insight on how to attend, and what to expect from, an academic conference. Being exposed as an undergrad to the interdisciplinarity and intersectionality of ASLE, and hearing presentations from other scholars from all levels of academia, interested me to pursue graduate school and continues to inform my current work as a graduate student in an Ethnic Studies department. Many of the scholars I met at my first ASLE conference have become formative references for my own research.”

Noemi Pacheco, undergraduate student at Humboldt State University: “Attending the 2015 ASLE conference as an undergraduate student was one of the best networking and educational experiences that I have had. With the mentoring and guidance of an ASLE faculty member at my institution, I was able to take advantage of all the opportunities at the ASLE conference. I doubt that there are many academic conferences that cover such a wide range of perspectives and topics as ASLE does, from “Challenging the Narrative of Undocumented Immigrants as Invasive Species: An Examination of the Counter-Conductive Potential of Desert Humanitarian Art” to “Exploring the Ecology of Christian Vocation in Wendell Berry’s Port William Fiction.” Encountering such a breadth of topics helped me realize that there are many avenues through which I can apply my Environmental Studies knowledge. One of the highlights of the ASLE conference was the pedagogy workshop focusing on “The Depths of Latina/o Environmentalisms.” Not only were my undergraduate peers and I afforded the opportunity to share our personal stories and knowledge, but we also had the opportunity to meet and converse with a group of professors and educators who are doing important environmental and social work within communities of color. It was this direct exposure to new research and leaders in the field that made my experience at the ASLE Conference positive one.”

Paradise Martínez Graff, undergraduate student at Humboldt State University: “With the mentorship of an ASLE faculty member at my school and with funding support from a grant, I was able to attend the ASLE 2015 conference at the University of Idaho. One of the highlights of my time at ASLE was taking part in the mid-conference pedagogy workshop, “The Depths of Latina/o Environmentalisms.” I felt that this workshop honored my work as a Chicana warrior as well as my roles as a student and growing scholar/activist. Having the opportunity to work with other presenters and with distinguished scholars and educators, such as Jorge Navarro, Priscilla Ybarra, and Sarah Ray, nourished my soul and reminded me that my cultural, dialectical, anecdotal, ecological, political, geographical, and spiritual roots matter.  ASLE, particularly those who hosted and participated in our workshop, changed my life.”

Dr. Salma Monani.  Photo by John Keith, Gettysburg College Communications & Marketing (2012)

Undergraduate Research and the Environmental Humanities at Gettysburg College

Salma Monani is the sole environmental humanities scholar and faculty member at Gettysburg College’s Environmental Studies Department. Her students, usually half or more of who are on the Bachelor of Science (BS) track, often enter her classes wondering what the humanities can lend to the study of the environment. From a seminar elective on food for first year students to the required “Introduction to Environmental Humanities” class for all majors, and from the upper-level electives “Environmental Film” and “Environmental Journalism” to a required capstone class for the majors, Salma enjoys exposing and engaging her students to the questions, ideas, and preoccupations of environmental humanists.

What is nature? How do people communicate their ideas of nature?  What does culture have to do with nature? What is culture? Who imagines and who constitutes the environment and environmental culture(s)?

The last question is one of particular importance to Salma, whose research interests explore environmental intersections with concerns of race and ethnicity. Along with exploring historical, cultural, and geopolitical systems that afford some races and ethnicities environmental privileges and metes out injustices to others, Salma’s students also consider with how difference—including of categories like class, gender, sexuality, species, human and non-human—figure into environmental cultural imaginations and material impacts.  

While classes hone in on the particulars of such concerns through course readings, discussions, field trips and research projects, Salma also engages students in independent research. From analyzing wildlife films because of a deep love for both film and the outdoors, to engaging in the discourse of community food and public health because of a strong commitment to social justice, students at Gettysburg choose to work on year-long thesis projects, publishing peer reviewed papers, or producing award-winning caliber films. “Healthy Options: A Community-Based Program to Address Food Insecurity” is the result of work Salma conducted with her student Emily Constantian. And one of Salma’s former students, Brian Kelley, has moved on from Gettysburg to become a filmmaker, cinematographer, editor for LinkTV’s Earth Focus, and is a graduate of American University’s Master’s film program.

Teaching in an interdisciplinary department, Salma draws often from her own interdisciplinary background in the humanities and the natural sciences to instill in her students not just an appreciation for environmental complexity but also an ability to recognize difference and embrace it critically and passionately,  and hopefully also with a sense of humility and humor.

To learn more about Dr. Monani’s work in the environmental studies department at Gettysburg College, visit her website.