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Fusing Nature and Culture

Lisa Marie's picture

It was interesting to read "Teaching Urban Ecology", a text that explicitly talked about how "nature" and "culture" are so siloed from one another in the classrom and how Di Chiro used intersectionality in teaching Ecology in her classroom. Di Chiro raised many interesting questions in her class, one of them I was especially struck by: "How are environmental scholars and community activists re-thinking and re-connecting the ideas of ecology and social justice with the commitment to creating sustainable communities?" She then encouraged her students to explore this question more deeply by participating in action research which provided them with very interesing and enlightening insight. I think the original question she posed is so central to this course as well as being a question that should be explored in more classrooms across the country. All too often, students learn about "nature" and "culture" not only as separate, isolated concepts, but also without this intersectionality layer to explain how different people experience culture and the earth differently. How might this question be explored in a middle or high school classroom? How can educators and schools integrate the ideas of "nature" and "culture"? How can social justice and environmental jusice and activism be better linked in the classroom/school setting?