Fostering community resilience and deepening democratic engagement is key in my research, and I am always looking for new ways to integrate this into my teaching. In the past three years, I have launched four new courses for the Environmental Studies Program at UCSB.
ENV S 102: Qualitative Methods for Environmental Studies
Next offering: Fall 2020
Qualitative research is widely used by practitioners in education, health, and social work to better understand people and their experiences, and is becoming increasingly critical in the context of environmental degradation, dispossession, and climate change. Often, people think of qualitative methods as an afterthought to large surveys, numerical analyses, and other quantitative studies. However, in this course, we explore how qualitative methods can serve as a primary tool for interrogating what is wrong with the world and in coming up with ways to bring about change. Not only do qualitative methods help us to critically examine how problems are framed and to identify and address issues that do not show up in quantitative studies, they also allow us to hear directly from communities who are facing difficult environmental circumstances. In this course, we take a hands-on approach to learn how qualitative methods can serve both environmental advocates and communities experiencing the impacts of environmental change.
ENV S 155: The Built World: Infrastructure and Environmental Change
Next offering: Winter 2021
In this course, we learn about the built environment from a socio-environmental perspective, with particular attention to the ways in which systems of value are embedded in each and every part of the human-altered world, from planning and implementation to construction and maintenance. These values govern our social interactions, our lifestyles, and our expectations of what is good and possible. They also shape landscapes of privilege and landscapes of risk in contexts of inequality. Throughout the quarter, we bridge narratives of collapse with narratives of possibility and hope. As a learning community, we consider and debate perspectives from scholarly studies, work in groups to investigate problems and research alternatives, follow, reflect upon, and analyze the built environment around us, and apply this knowledge in a final project.
ENV S 182: Field Seminar in Community and Personal Resilience
Next offering: Fall 2020
As we grapple with climate realities that are deeply unjust and immensely worrisome, how might we build resilience on both a personal and community level? This seminar provides an opportunity for students to engage in practices of movement-building and resilience-building in the context of global environmental change and social injustice. Each seminar will explore readings related to ecological crisis, social equity, intersectionality, and regenerative economy. The course format emphasizes experiential learning through a cycle of action, reflection, and analysis of the underlying patterns, beliefs, structures, systems and conditions that give rise to social and environmental crises. We will engage in critical reflection after every activity as a way to harvest the collective insights of the group and identify potential applications for community resilience, leadership, and future action. Together, we will bring new perspectives, struggles, and voices into dialogue with environmental problems and visions for the future. We will work together to develop strategic interventions, build resilience, and co-create a life-sustaining society.
ENV S 183: Film, Representation, and the Environment
Next offering: Spring 2021
In this course, we engage with concepts and frameworks that bridge the cognitive and emotional dimensions of screening environmental film with the complexities of studying environmental problems, which are inherently political and intersectional. In particular, we approach environmental films as documents of critique, reflection, intervention, and reimagining in the context of rapid environmental change and disruption. Historically, film has played a powerful role in shaping public understandings of environmental issues. As our ideas about the environment change and intensify, film continues to play an important role in bringing new perspectives, struggles, and voices into dialogue with environmental problems and visions for the future. We grapple with questions that trouble our assumptions, affinities, and aversions. For example: What points of view do we privilege? What logics do we follow? What images and aesthetics do we gravitate to? And why? The aim of studying film in this way – through a critical and self-reflexive process – is to think deeply about how we conceptualize and “feel” the environment through different perspectives (including, but not limited to those mediated through film), and to rethink our own understandings of what the “environment” is.