domingo, 20 de enero de 2013

Environmental Activism for Academic Credits

For its interest, I paste this message DIRECTLY from  ENVITONMENTAL ANTHROPOLOGY EANTH-L(at)LISTSERV.UGA.EDU...
 
Just recently I was thinking about the subject; It is a very great idea; as thia opened also a window for academics and their activities in activism, that would be included in curricula 
 
 
 
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environmental activism for course credit? 
 
 
Hi everyone,

I'm teaching a graduate-level course this coming semester called Environmental
History of the Modern World, which I've taught once before. It deals with a laundry
list of environmental issues - you can imagine. I'm reviewing the readings and films
to be assigned and, as always, getting really upset and frustrated at the world's
environmental problems. So I had an idea. Instead of just assigning essays and
exams, I thought I might have the students do environmental activism projects as one
assignment. This would span the semester, and could take various forms such as
petitioning the university to stop providing bottled water or to divest from oil
companies, or getting involved at the community level, or volunteering for an NGO,
or whatever. I thought they could create a portfolio documenting their efforts, and
the results thereof, which would be what I'd grade at the end.

So I'm wondering if this is just a hare-brained idea, or if anyone else has tried
this, and if so, what have been the issues/results? Is my IRB going to freak out?
Will the students get annoyed? Or will it be a positive experience that gets them
started on the path to activism??

I look forward to any experiences, thoughts, or comments anyone could share.

Best wishes,
Leah

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Leah S. Horowitz, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Geography
Global Leadership and Sustainable Development Program
Hawai‘i Pacific University
1188 Fort Street Mall, Suite 313
Honolulu, Hawai‘i 96813-2713
U.S.A.
 
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THIS NEXT IS THE ANSWER: 
 
 
I just completed teaching a one-term course on applied environmental activism (3rd
year undergrad). As far as I know, this may be a first of its kind in Canada. It was
lots of fun and the students enjoyed it tremendously and learned a lot doing in.
Here is a link to a story about it:

http://www.universitiesnews.com/2012/12/19/canada-mount-allison-students-learn-about-activism-by-taking-on-a-favourite-cause/

Group-based work is key for the activism project work (I recommend a minimum of 3,
maximum of about 7 or 8 per project group), but group work poses challenges for
evaluation, so I also included some individualized work alongside that (e.g., they
had to write short essay papers researching and evaluating such things as the Occupy
Movement and Keystone Pipeline protest). Ongoing communication between you and the
project groups and the wider class is central, both for learning and for management
of the course. At least half of every 3 hour meeting each week was spent de-briefing
and interrogating the class projects (of which there were 5) with the entire class
(n = 22 students), as these projects developed, encountered obstacles, made
progress, etc.

Give the students lots of room to be creative, but keep in mind the short time frame
they are working under so encourage projects that are modest and realistic in terms
of achieving something concrete. Keep a close watch on developments to ensure the
actions of the students in no way risk stepping outside the letter of the law or
other regulations pertaining to student activities on or off campus. Make sure your
senior university administrators know you are doing such a course and are supportive
in case any controversies arise out of the student activities. So far, we have had
nothing serious arise, but one can't always predict in advance such things.

Among our classes accomplishments this year were the completion of a protest march
(see photo in above story) and youtube video raising awareness about the Northern
Gateway pipeline (check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1q_mAI08Os); a
community banquet to raise awareness about local food issues (attended by 150
people); two local Town Council-supported resolutions in support of, respectively,
the banning of plastic bags in stores and the serving of shark fin soup in local
restaurants; and several online and paper petitions supporting the aforementioned
activities and the proposal to build a local pedway over the highway to encourage
safe walking and bike use. Not bad for a 3-month class, but our university does have
a relatively highly engaged population of students, with a tradition of
environmental and social justice activism of various sorts. It is in part for this
reason that I decided to formalize such activities in a classroom setting like this.

Cheers,

Brad
 
"Bradley Walters"  

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