Featured Teaching

Zoom In: Parable of the Sower

Rebecca Evans, Moritz Ingwersen, and Davy Knittle

Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower is a powerful science fiction novel that imagines a post-apocalyptic future and the hope for a new home and community, situating this narrative in the context of climate change and environmental degradation. In this Zoom In post, Rebecca Evans, Moritz Ingwersen, and Davy Knittle explore a wide range of approaches to teaching the novel, considering its interdisciplinarity, its connection to cyborg ethics, and its relevance to real-world policy.

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Environmental History, Storytelling, and the Telepathic Gorilla

Mark Soderstrom, Aurora University

Daniel Quinn’s 1992 novel Ishmael, about an encounter between a middle-aged man and a telepathic gorilla, may not be an obvious choice for an environmental history course. Here, Mark Soderstrom makes a case for its value, however, showing how it encourages students to think about the stories we tell about environmental history and how it reminds them of the “real world” work of the humanities.

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Zoom In: Braiding Sweetgrass

Matt Morgenstern, Luke Rodewald, and Dawn Wink

Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants has become a popular and meaningful text for environmental humanities courses, and in this Zoom In post Matt Morgenstern, Luke Rodewald, and Dawn Wink share techniques for teaching with Braiding Sweetgrass in a variety of contexts.

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Teaching Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk: The Importance of Place in the Environmental Humanities

Nanda Jarosz, University of Sydney

Helen MacDonald’s H Is for Hawk is part memoir, part nature writing, and part biography of T. H. White; as such, it is a rich text for the environmental humanities classroom. In this piece, Nanda Jarosz reflects on her experience teaching the book and explores its potential for helping students attend to the role of nonhuman agency in shaping environments.

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Hopeful Ecomedia in the Pandemic

Bridgitte Barclay, Steven Carter, Angie Lopez, and Blythe Keuning

In this post, Environmental Studies students write about their experience making ecomedia in the pandemic class space. They focus on hope, mistakes, wonder, and curiosity as energizing forces and show their fantastic work. Prepare to be hopeful about the world.

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Image of a taxidermied deer in profile in a museum.

Teaching Ecohorror III: Beyond Genre

Kom Kunyosying, Chelsea Davis, Keri Stevenson, and Christy Tidwell

This third and final post about teaching ecohorror invites readers to consider the possibilities of teaching ecohorror even when teaching a course without space for it as a distinct topic or when there are external constraints limiting text choices. As Kom Kunyosying, Chelsea Davis, and Keri Stevenson show here, ecohorror is in far more places than you might think.

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Teaching Ecohorror II: When the World Changes

Ashley Kniss, Bernice Murphy, and Christy Tidwell

In this second post in a series inviting ecohorror scholars to reflect on one of their favorite ecohorror texts to teach and what works (or doesn’t) about using it in the classroom, Ashley Kniss and Bernice Murphy discuss two contemporary novels that explore ecological and global change: Annihilation and The Uninvited.

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Teaching Ecohorror I: Creatures!

Bridgitte Barclay, Katrina Maggiulli, and Christy Tidwell

This is the first post in a series inviting ecohorror scholars to reflect on one of their favorite ecohorror texts to teach and what works (or doesn’t) about using it in the classroom. Here, Bridgitte Barclay and Katrina Maggiulli focus on creatures as they write about teaching Creature from the Black Lagoon and Splice. 

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Nature(s) Journaling in a Virtual Classroom in Quarantine

Mika Kennedy, Kalamazoo College, with Alyssa Zino, Emily Braunohler, Hannah Shiner, Koyan Sidibé, Lillian Mattern, Matthew, Nikoli Nickson, Preston Grossling, Rachel Madar, and Riley Gabriel  

Mika Kennedy – with the help of several of her students – explores what it’s like to keep a Nature Journal 1 year into a pandemic, in the middle of winter in Michigan.


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Teaching Race & Nature: An Interview with April Anson

April Anson, University of Pennsylvania, and Christy Tidwell, South Dakota School of Mines & Technology

Recently, April Anson published a list of resources about the intersections between race and nature. In this interview, she explores how these topics can be approached in the classroom. She notes some of the specific texts she’s found most teachable, provides context for teaching them, describes some of her methods, and considers how she deals with resistance from students.

Following the Amy Cooper incident (in which Cooper, a white woman, called 911 to falsely report a threat from Christian Cooper, a Black birder), the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police, and in the midst of ongoing nationwide protests against racism and police brutality, this research is more important than ever to read and to incorporate into our teaching as environmental humanities scholars.

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Green Media

John Parham, University of Worcester, UK

We live at the crossroads captured in Sir David Attenborough’s BBC series Blue Planet 2. The Earth’s future, our students’ futures, are darkened by risk – e.g. climate change or mass species extinction – or potentially brightened by promised new worlds shaped by greener technology or multispecies communities.

Unsurprisingly ‘green’ or ‘eco’ media studies has grown rapidly. Teaching his undergraduate ‘Green Media’ module to media, journalism, and politics students at the University of Worcester, in the UK, John Parham has come to realise that …

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A Pig Tale: Teaching Sustainable Humanities in Siena, Italy

Gioia Woods, Associate Professor of Humanities, Northern Arizona University

It was a time when the simplest foods contained traps, threats, and frauds…cheese was made of plastic, butter from tallow candles; in fruit and vegetables the arsenic of insecticides was concentrated in percentages higher than the vitamin content; to fatten chickens they stuffed them with synthetic pills that could transform the man who ate a drumstick into a chicken himself….From the tins of oil it was no longer the golden juice of the olive that flowed, but the fat of old mules, cleverly …

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Exploring the Art & Science of Biodiversity in Guyana

Nicole M. Merola, Rhode Island School of Design

“Exploring the Art & Science of Biodiversity in Guyana” is an interdisciplinary course focused on approaches to the concept of biodiversity in the arts, humanities, and sciences. The six-credit travel course is offered during the Wintersession term at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). Dr. Nicole M. Merola, Associate Professor of Literary Arts & Studies, and Dr. Lucy Spelman, a veterinarian, science educator, and Lecturer in History, Philosophy, and Social Sciences, team-teach the course.

Drs. Merola and Spelman designed the course to help …

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Key Words in Ecocinema Studies

Stephen Rust, University of Oregon

Stephen Rust often tells his students in cinema studies courses that learning to carefully describe and analyze cinematic texts requires us to learn a new set of vocabulary terms and the ability to apply those terms. As students take a further step toward engaging in more specific discourse communities such as Ecomedia Studies it becomes even more important to gain an awareness and understanding of the sometimes complex terminology scholars use to think with as we seek to communicate with each other precisely and …

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Cultures of Climate Change

Stephanie LeMenager, University of Oregon

From Warren Cariou’s “Tarhands, A Messy Manifesto.”

The graduate seminar “Cultures of Climate Change” explores the ways that scholars from varied fields can apply their skills to the ecological and imaginative challenge posed to all of us (humanists, scientists, planetary citizens) by the increasingly visible and felt effects of global climate change.

From Philippe Squarzoni’s Climate Changed.

The course examines the cultures of climate change, meaning artistic, literary, filmic and journalistic responses to this multi-scalar problem that frustrates conventional modes of representation …

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Environmental Fiction and Criticism

Heather Houser, The University of Texas at Austin

J. Henry Fair, Bleach, Charleston, TN (2010), Aerial photograph of waste run-off at chemical plant

“Environmental Fiction and Criticism” is an upper-division research seminar in which students explore how literary and cinematic narratives shape environmental consciousness in the late 20th and 21st centuries. On the first day, the students examine two images, one by J. Henry Fair and the other by Yann Arthus-Bertrand.

Heather withholds all identifying information from the Fair photograph and asks her students to discuss the elements that immediately struck …

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Interdisciplinary Matters: The Questions of Environmental Studies

Sarah Jaquette Ray, Humboldt State University

What does it mean to teach interdisciplinary methods to prospective practitioners of the field? Does it assume that the instructor herself is an expert in approaches from the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities? Must environmental studies students be trained in all three approaches? Is knowledge about the environment only legitimate, even “true,” when derived from interdisciplinary inquiry?

When she was first assigned “Research and Analysis in Environmental Studies,” Dr. Sarah Jaquette Ray imagined the course as an introduction to methods of environmental studies. …

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