Breaking News: Conference Presentation Connects to Kristina’s Teaching Philosophy

At my very first conference presentation, (There is more information about it here: https://kristinagaddy.wordpress.com/2010/12/04/human-nature-an-interdisciplinary-conference-on-ecotheory-and-justice/), one of the questions posed to my panel asked how Ecotheory and Justice could be implemented in the teaching writing or literature.  What an exciting question!  We all agreed that our scholarship should always come to bear on what we do in the classroom. 

Part of the question was answered by a member of the audience, Dr. Julie Jung, who suggested teaching it as an idea that the course is centered on.  In this way, it would be possible to integrate readings that explore conceptions “Nature,” human and nonhuman life, and the “environment”. 

The presentations of the other members in my panel, Shichi Jessica Zhang and Rasheena Fountain, engaged in applying or explored discourses and philosophies from Native American and ancient Chinese culture, carrying out what I see to be Donna Haraway’s call to recognize “earthwide networks” of connections, and the rhizomatic formation of knowledge.  When I attempted to answer the question related to teaching I pointed out that a course would need to integrate work from diverse writers and locations, including the background of class participants.  In either a writing or literature course, it would be necessary to ask students to theorize their own relationships with the world around them, and to observe the ways in which they participate in the collaborative creation of the world with other entities, like machines, animals, chemicals and geological forces (I’m thinking of Donna’s Haraway’s and Glen Mazis’ theorizing here).

Healthy air, water, and food should not only be considered an environmental right, but a HUMAN right, afforded to all people.  Of course, we see that race, class, gender, sexuality, disability, and many other concerns affect a person’s exposure to toxic chemicals in food, air, and water.  For this reason, I believe that a course on environmental justice must also be a course on social justice! 

In connection with a course on writing, ISU’s writing program’s emphasis on genre studies calls for the study and production of many different genres.  In just a few minutes, I can imagine writing letters to school or university leaders, city officials, or state politicians about social or environmental issues, advertisements about local organizations, meetings, conferences, or projects, newspaper articles to be published in local papers, and much more.  In a class like this, participant writing would have a REAL role to play in the world.  Exciting, right? 

Some of these things happened in ENG 101 this year.  Maybe I could ask some of those writers if I could link to their projects from here for examples…