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Eco-Literacy 2014

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Anne Dalke's picture

Welcome to the on-line conversation for Eco-Literacy, a 360°
cluster being offered @ Bryn Mawr College in Spring 2014.


Anne Dalke's picture

the bundt cakes in action....

Here is a little slide show of the Bundt Cakes that Ava took over the few days they were on display--some of them with us and a few other people interacting with the pieces; some with the bundt cakes alone. Enjoy them all....

Anne Dalke's picture

on changing people's minds....

I’ve finally gotten around to the last of the tasks I’d set myself during the ENVS Faculty Workshop in May—reading a couple of social psychology books that Benjamin Le recommended to me re: changing people’s attitudes. Neither one taught me too much, but here (for the record) is a brief summary of each--

Haddock, Geoffrey and Gregory Maio, Eds, Contemporary Perspectives on the Psychology of Attitudes. Psychology Press, 2004: (pretty useless, from my p.o.v) collection of essays by different authors, concluding with Haddock and Maio’s overview of the research: that there are “three witches” in this brew—attitude content, structure, and function--that need to be better integrated.

Anne Dalke's picture

2014 Tri-Co Environmental Studies Workshop: Welcoming Our Asian Students

Welcoming Our Asian Students (Anne Dalke)
Session IV @ the 2014 Tri-Co Environmental Studies Workshop

Anne Dalke's picture

2014 Tri-Co Environmental Studies Workshop: Finding the Path in Praxis

Finding the Path in Praxis (Jody Cohen and Anne Dalke)
Session II @ the 2014 Tri-Co Environmental Studies Workshop

Anne Dalke's picture

2014 Tri-Co Environmental Studies Workshop: "Muddying the Waters"

"Muddy-ing the Waters": Doing Justice To Race, Class,
Gender and Environment (Jody Cohen and Anne Dalke)
Session I @ the 2014 Tri-Co Environmental Studies Workshop

sara.gladwin's picture

a reflection on writing a comic book about writing a paper

This is a reflection on my third English paper for Anne, which took the form of a comic book and was never fully completed. I will be attaching scans of the pieces that had been completed SOON and using this space to outline where the comic will continue to go.


I chose to write a comic book for several reasons. The first reason was that I am interested in experimenting with forms of academic work that diverge from conventional assignments, such as essays and exams. In doing so, I hope to challenge the notion that these conventional assignments are the most adequate methods of measuring student growth and learning inside the classroom. By expanding our understanding of what a “paper” looks like, we can better serve the needs and strengths of diverse learning styles.

Sophia Weinstein's picture

Natural Conduct

“In their occluded waters light loses its directionality within a few inches of the surface. Beneath this lies a flowing stream of suspended matter in which visibility does not extend beyond an arm’s length. With no lighted portal to point the way, top and bottom and up and down become very quickly confused” (Ghosh 46).

 Having spent so much time this semester in and outside of our 360 contemplating connectedness, barriers, intersectionality, and porosity, I am finding myself in a sort of ‘flowing stream of suspended matter’ – very close to accepting the possibility that I will never truly find the right direction with which to ask the right questions and find the right answers to understand the world. There is a false sense of closure associated with our 360 coming to an end, yet I know that my life as a student and as an ecologically minded person is much more in the beginning stages. I am in a stream of questions and answers (that are never truly answers) that circle me back to discover that indeed, the same problems still exists in our world. Everything, for me, comes back to the relationship between being an individual and belonging as part of a group or society. I want to break out of this whirlpool. I have been having trouble understanding why I am so transfixed on this “me/us/them” theme, seeing as we are an eco-literacy 360 and this topic does not feel pointedly ecological. Exploring the connections we have with one another is important, but does not fully consider our connections to earth and the environment.

pbernal's picture

The Importance and Power of Language

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

-Nelson Mandela


There are two definitions to language, one is for lenguaje and the other is for idioma. One is the branch of communication, whether it is verbal, visual, or gestural. The other branch stretches out to dialect, tongue, accents, and our way of oral speech. Regardless of each definition, we ultimately use it all for the same objective, to communicate. We use language as means of connection, to convey and diffuse our experiences as close as we can get to sharing and describing without the other person actually being there. We give language the power of translating our experiences into words.

aphorisnt's picture

Seeing the Forest for More than the Trees: The Social Dimension of Environmental Justice

    Small groups of people gather at the large coffee chain on the second floor of a Texas shopping center.1 Some are made up of teens and college students, some of older individuals, maybe groups of friends or coworkers, but no group seems to acknowledge the presence of any other. All of a sudden, twenty or so phones buzz or ring or chime and like clockwork, small groups of teens or students or coworkers all rise, make for the escalators, and walk quickly toward the corporate business interior of the complex. Someone gives a signal and the chanting begins: “No pipelines! No tar sands! No destruction of indigenous lands!” “Jobs at the [pipeline]? No lets can it! There are no jobs on a dead planet!” “What’s insane? This is insane! No eminent domain for private gain!” (Tar Sands Blockade). Within minutes protestors invade the offices of a corporate conglomerate working to construct a pipeline to carry tar sands oil from Alberta to Houston, a project that could and most likely will have devastating effects upon the natural environment not to mention the exacerbation of global climate change from increased anthropogenic carbon production–yet none of the messaging focuses on protecting “nature.” Rather, all of the chants engage with social issues: ignoring the land rights of first nation peoples, placing profit margins and the bottom line above health and safety, forcibly taking the property of people whose only crimes were living in an area a corporation suddenly decided in needs to own.

Kelsey's picture

Reading Rilke: On Questions of Universality

           The first time our Ecoliteracy 360 met was in December, in the English House lecture hall, where we talked about ourselves and our homes and where we were going to go throughout the next semester.  The second time we met, we piled into two blue Bryn Mawr vans and drove 30 minutes and what might have seemed a world to Camden, where we spent the first half of the day gardening and the second half touring Camden’s water treatment facility and some of Camden’s streets and ending in one of Camden’s parks, where our guide, Michael, pointed out the environmental threats and innovations that surrounded us.  This was our first 360 field trip, designed to help us learn about ecoliteracy, but even now I am hard pressed to say exactly what I learned that day.  I came in from the outside and began to reevaluate my assumptions about a city I’d only ever heard talked about as poor and crime-ridden but, even though I did learn some things about Camden that I hadn’t known before, I think that day really started my semester-long process of changing the way I see the world.  Perhaps the poet Rilke was describing something like this when he wrote:

And we: spectators, always, everywhere,

looking at everything and never from!

It floods us. We arrange it.  It decays.

We arrange it again, and we decay.

jo's picture

Translating the World: Cloth, Communication, Survival

The islands are the trailing threads of India’s fabric, the ragged fringe of her sari, the ãchol that follows her, half wetted by the sea. (Ghosh 6)

The sari, an integral part of Indian culture, features prominently in Amitav Ghosh’s story of the Sundarbans, The Hungry Tide. In the quote above, Ghosh uses traditional Indian garments as a metaphor to talk about the shape and geography of the tide country, but the role of such textiles and of clothing in general plays many other substantial roles throughout the course of the story. As humans, we tend to take clothing for granted and forget the space it takes up in our life. Clothing is one of the major factors that distinguish humans from animals, and in many cases we use it to protect ourselves against the elements, against nature. In a book that holds so much commentary and insight about the debate of humans vs. nature (humanism/environmentalism), Ghosh gives many examples of the importance of clothing for human connection, communication, and survival.

Simona's picture

From Hypothesis to Home: the insider/outsider dynamic of science and society

I have often wondered why I gravitate toward science, why this way of interpreting the world speaks to me. And yet, I have often wondered why despite being given the tools to dive right into the nucleus of science—research—I instead prefer to circumnavigate the nucleus in a quick-paced orbit like an electron, buzzing around but never quite finding home in the heart of scientific investigation.

Reading The Hungry Tide, I immediately connected with Piya’s character. A scientist, and marine biologist at that—a field I have explored many a day and night during my Sea Semester as I collected phytoplankton data aboard a rocking ship in the middle of the Pacific. New data was exciting, especially with the thrill of acquiring it in such dynamic and challenging conditions. The excitement Piya felt when seeing her first dolphin aboard Fokir’s boat resonated with me deeply—I have felt so similarly. But in this excitement lies tension too: when does science cross into the realm of self, community, and place? When does it grow from the act of forming a hypothesis to an act of building a home?

Anne Dalke's picture

Bundt Cake Celebration

An interactive installation by Ava Blitz, Mellon Creative Resident for the 'Eco-Literacy' 360.
Enjoy and interact with the piece, but please respect it and do not remove anything from the site.
Thank you.

The very first Bundt Cake was made back in the 90's on Bryn Mawr's campus, outside of Arnecliffe Studio. Ave dug a hole in the ground, filled it with concrete- dug the piece out, carved it, and set it back into the depression- to be reclaimed by nature. This form has evolved over time. Carved and cast in various sizes and materials, it has occupied various environments, in the earth, on the earth, suspended in the air, and floating on water. Its interpretation is ambiguous-- nature made--human made--natural--unnatural?

The community of Bundt Cakes here is meant to be an interactive piece for the Bryn Mawr community to explore these questions.

Lisa Marie's picture

Re-framing a Justice for Right Relationships

      At our first 360 meeting in Camden, the 360 participants and CFET members had an interesting conversation on Eco-Literacy and Environmental & Social Justice. During this discussion, Michael from CFET made a comment that has remained with me through the course of this semester. He mentioned that he did not like the term “justice” as an organizing idea as it implies that there is always an impartial arbiter determining what is “right”. As someone who has felt involved and active in the pursuit of social justice, I had not previously thought there might be something problematic about this concept. Over the course of the semester, in and out of the 360, I have begun to question and challenge the idea of justice. What is justice? Who determines what is “just” and “right”? Must justice be achieved at the expense of something else? Does social justice perpetuate and reproduce existing social inequalities and hierarchies? What about ecological justice? Is there a way for eco-justice and social justice to co-exist or is there tension between them? Is justice inherently human centric? Is there a way to expand this concept to the wider natural world? To assist me in exploring these questions, I will draw on John Humbach’s essay “Towards a Natural Justice of Right Relationships”, J.M. Coetzee’s The Lives of Animals, and Teju Cole’s “The White Savior Industrial Complex”. 

Jenna Myers's picture

Representation in Science: Bias and Negativity

What are the similarities and differences between the following images?



Anne Dalke's picture

"cannot unsee"?

since this features my and sophia's sister's "duck-rabbit,"
i can't resist sharing it w/ you all,
along w/ the question of what, since this 360, can you "not unsee"?
Things You Cannot Unsee (and What That Says About Your Brain)

jo's picture

Getting to know the Liney 'Ditch' Park: a lesson plan for Camden


I’ve so enjoyed working with the fifth grade class in Camden this semester, and yet I’ve found our limited connection to be very frustrating. Due to the various time and logistical constraints, as well as the fact that there are so many of us teaching together and we haven’t been working this class continuously, I have not been able to carry out my dream lesson plans. Therefore I decided to design a lesson plan for a week-long unit in their class. In this imaginary scenario, I am the teacher, and have been for the whole year. They will be coming out of a long couple of units on slavery and the civil rights movement, and my hope is that this week and the unit after it will bridge a connection between the two. (I’ll use a book called Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor.) It will likely be around the end of September, or perhaps in the end of April/beginning of May. These are times when it tends to be fairly warm and nice out but the weather is not reliable so we may end up having some interesting conversations about how ‘bad’ weather plays into our concept of nature/environment.

pbernal's picture

Understandable, Memorable, and Shareable

Regardless of socioeconomic status, ethnicity, or ecosysytem, children play in similar ways when they have safe free time in nature.

-Children and Nature Design Principles (Ch.3) Sobel

Knowledge, in my opinion, is perpetual when gained through experience. We learn not to play with fire because our bodies endure pain at first encounter. We know which foods we like best because we eat them and develop a sense of taste. We have the ability to know through our use of senses; sight, touch, smell, hearing, and taste. We can only gain true knowledge when we encounter and expose ourselves to an environment.

Instructors, guides, and even teachers can profess and stress the importance of the environment, but ultimately it means nothing if all they do is talk about it. Students will only have an idea, an imagination in their mind, never knowing the impact of the full ability of their senses. The environment will mean nothing if students never have an experience with it. As environmentalists, we can’t force the importance and value nature has for us upon others because we don’t all share the same values. We can’t assume that everyone has the same opportunities as others to experience the environment a certain way because we don’t all have the same access. We can’t teach the importance of environmental education if we can’t allow our students to dance with the universe.

Student 24's picture

Eco-Sex Education: 
The (Forgotten?) Notion that at the End of the Day (Beginning of the Night), We Are All Human(s)*

I want to preface this paper by saying a few things about my growing understanding of ecological thought. I have found that this process of thought is really about process of thought itself. Ecological education is a space where I study the process of my thinking, what triggers my thinking, where it pulls me, from what it pushes against, the ravines into which I fall, and the valleys in which I find myself hopelessly spinning (or wondrously dancing, depending on the atmosphere), where I can sit on the stump of a fallen tree or city street curb and embrace the full access I have to my own mind, style, and words. As a 360, we have well discussed the notion of education not needing to be confined in the walls (be they plaster-white or flashy with rainbow alphabet trains and glamourous posters illustrating parts of speech or the quadratic formula) of a classroom. Education and learning happen everywhere else too: watching clouds in the sky, sitting in a city park, smoking in a jazz club, browsing through a yellow-paged bilingual dictionary, and twiddling your thumbs during a Ukrainian Catholic mass drenched with incense and harmonies of perfect fifths. Most fundamentally, though, it occurs within my mind and my body. If that is the fundamental, then I need to begin there. This paper may feel segmented, but then, life occurs in segments and unrelated events and thoughts. The only thing sometimes connecting events is the passage of time within the body experiencing the events, and that fluidity itself is often what causes connections to make sense.

Jenna Myers's picture

Curriculum Paper- Climate Change Through TIme

 Climate Change Affecting Earth Through Time



For this curriculum I wanted to see how a classroom of 5th grade students would react to climate change and predict what climate change will do to their neighborhoods. Throughout this semester in the Ecoliteracy 360 I have been very interested in the idea of perception. Specifically I was interested in how others react to the five senses: sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound. Depending on a location of a school or of someone’s home they will perceive their neighborhood in a different way than another.

Curriculum Unit Overview and Objectives: