As an Affiliated Faculty in the Environmental Studies Program at Keene State College I teach an elective course, Writing in an Endangered World, that engages students with the social movement of environmentalism and forms of environmental writing.
My collaborations with the Environmental Studies program began soon after arriving at Keene State in 1998. I designed and taught a first-year writing course in the “Environmental House” (Keddy Hall) designated as a living and learning community. The pedagogical assumptions that guided this course were developed in my essay “Education and Environmental Literacy: Teaching Ecocomposition in Keene State College’s Environmental House” that I published in the book Ecocomposition: Theoretical and Pedagogical Approaches (SUNY UP, 2001). The essay elaborates how a writing course grounded in the location where teaching and learning occur enhances student learning. I discuss my own attempts to articulate these pedagogical and theoretical connections within a program initiated by the college to integrate academic and student life for first-year students.
A few years later I taught an interdisciplinary course that examined the ways American women writers record nature, are inspired by nature, or serve as advocates for the natural world. I wanted students to examine the ways women have shaped our view of the landscape and our relationship to it; and I wanted the course to provide students with an introduction to the intersections between feminism and ecology. And, in the fall semester of 2001, the Women’s Studies Curriculum Committee agreed to designate English 240: Women and Nature as a Women’s Studies elective.
My 2008 sabbatical in India provided the inspiration and perspective for the courses I now teach in the environmental humanities. During our stay in India, I was invited to universities to discuss with my Indian colleagues, and their graduate students, our shared concern with environmental writing. When not lecturing or talking with students, I sought out perspectives on the environmental movement in the United States by environmental historians, and studied the writings of ecologists whose work is focused in developing countries. Soon after returning from sabbatical, my essay on bioregionalism was published in the inaugural issue of the Indian Journal of Ecocriticism and an interview with me, “Ecocriticism: A Model for the Interdisciplinary Humanities,” appeared in the Newsletter of the Organization for the Study of Literature and the Environment (OSLE) India.
One outcome of my sabbatical leave was a course I taught in the 2011-12 academic year, “What is Nature?” that was supported by a two-year grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. I regularly teach a first-year writing course with an environmental theme, Searching for Wildness and, in alternate years, I offer my Environmental Studies elective, Writing in an Endangered World.