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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