Visiting Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Kate Miller is excited to use her class to connect students to actions to influence environmental change.In fall of 2021, she launched an “Option for Action Project” in her Introduction to Environmental Studies class (ENVS197). Through this project, students create tangible action plans for addressing environmental problems that affect them. This year they are sharing their proposed solutions with the whole Wesleyan community through a social media campaign which will run now through the end of the semester.
Students from Visiting Assistant Professor Kate Miller’s Introduction to Environmental Studies/ENVS197 course participated in two local service events as part of the class this semester: the Source to Sea Clean-Up, organized by the CT River Conservancy, and the roll-out of a Food Waste Collection Pilot Project, sponsored by the City of Middletown’s Department of Public Works and Recycling Program.
Introduction to Environmental Studies/ENVS197 examines the technical and social causes of environmental degradation at local and global scales, along with the potential for developing policies and philosophies that are the basis of a sustainable society. This semester Dr. Helen Poulos, adjunct assistant professor of environmental studies, is teaching the course. Poulos is a plant ecologist who examines the influences of natural and anthropogenic disturbances on local-, landscape-, and regional-scale plant distribution patterns. She recently received a $300K research grant from NASA.
What are the class components of ENVS197 and how do those components tie-in with the COE’s focus on interdisciplinary study?
Helen Poulos (HP): The course is an intro/survey course, so we cover topics spanning the sciences, humanities, and social sciences. The idea is to cover the breadth of the field of study. The final project, however, is designed as a way for students to dive deeper into one environmental issue that really interests them. The final project options this semester include working with Wesleyan Physical Plant and Forklift Danceworks, making an artist book, or writing a Green Fund proposal. All three options are designed to provide students with unique opportunities to engage with environmental issues through a particular lens. For the Physical Plant project, students shadow Physical Pant workers for three hours each week and have biweekly group meetings with my course assistant, Tamara Rivera ‘21 and Gretechen LaMotte ’18 of Forklift Danceworks (via Skype). For the artist book project, students workshop their projects with Suzy Taraba from Special Collections and participate in two bookbinding and printmaking workshops with Alexander Osborne, visiting assistant professor of art. I also lead two workshops on grant writing for students who select the Green Fund proposal option.
Six students in Barry Chernoff’s ENVS197 (Introduction to Environmental Studies) course worked side-by-side with members of Wesleyan’s Physical Plant this semester, as part of a collaborative project with Forklift Danceworks, an organization that employs performance to activate communities through a collaborative creative process. The Austin-based organization was founded by choreographer Allison Orr, a former Menakka and Essel Bailey ’66 Distinguished Visiting Scholar here at the COE, who lead the project, with help from Forlift’s assistant choreographer Gretchen LaMotte ’18.