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“Writing makes it easier to relate to the Environment” – The Valuable Role of the Composition Classroom in our Threatened Environment

By Yasmin Rioux

Abstract: The author examines the role and influence of a place-based Environmental Literature and Writing class on her undergraduate students’ perception of their personal position within their immediate and extended environments. Further, the author aims at gaining a better understanding of what course elements the students found particularly valuable and effective in the realization of their agency within our environmental context, and what role writing played in the students’ reflections and examinations of the complex relationships between self, nature, and matters pertaining to sustainability and the future of our natural habitats. By assessing student writing, collecting questionnaires, and conducting open-question interviews, the author explores her students’ impressions and experiences of navigating global and local environmental issues through a Humanities-based course.

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The Greening of the Language Arts: Considering Sustainability Outside of the Science Classroom

By Lauren G. McClanahan

If the concept of sustainability is studied at all in middle or high school, chances are that study is taking place in the science classroom. After all, the topic of sustainability is still widely perceived as one of scientific purview: the melting of the polar ice caps, the increase in storm severity, droughts, flooding, and the like. However, I would like to challenge that assumption, and suggest the topic of sustainability be incorporated more broadly, and by more departments than only biology or geography. I would like to invite my colleagues in the English language arts to take ownership of sustainability education, and more closely examine the roles of the economic and societal factors that are directly related to the environmental degradation of our planet. In this paper, I will provide justification for such an undertaking, and also share my own work on inviting student voice and student experience, along with visual media, into the conversation of sustainability education, and more broadly into the conversation of social justice. I will share, through the work of talented secondary students, why sustainability education is the under the purview of all teachers, not just those in the science department.

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