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Self Evaluation and Reflection

isabell.the.polyglot's picture

Self-Evaluation and Reflection

E-Sem was one of my most enjoyable classes this semester. I liked the small size of the class because I felt like everyone was allowed a voice to speak and it provided a more comfortable environment where we actually got to know our classmates pretty well. This helped when trying to express our thoughts, as we didn’t have to be worried about messing up in front of strangers. I also liked how, at the end of the semester especially, we got comfortable enough with each other that we could disagree. I thought that confronting and questioning each other’s ideas really helped push our conversation to the next level, as we were forced to justify our beliefs and think more deeply about whatever it was that we were talking about.

I know that the class was divided into those who were more interested in talking about identity and those who were more interested in talking about the environment. I think it was obvious that I found myself as a part of the latter. I felt like in this class, I was a listener and a talker, depending on what topic we were talking about. When it was about identity, I was more of a listener and I liked to absorb information and then formulate well thought-out ideas, but when it came to the environment I had a lot of pre-existing knowledge on the subject and felt justified to talk more. I also felt like when we were talking about the environment, we were actually informing each other about whatever knowledge we had on the topic and it was a lot more productive. Of course identity is more important, but because it is such an individualistic subject, it was less defined and we often did not come to conclusions in these conversations. With the environment, I felt like the ideas were more concrete and easier to handle.

I especially enjoyed Van Jones and Latour’s articles about the environment, because they approached the topic in such interdisciplinary ways that it made me think about the environment in a different light. I always thought that the only way to solve any environmental issues was to go against how the economy was currently operating and to remodel it entirely, but Van Jones proposed the idea of working with the system and reforming it that way. With Latour, he mentioned how education was an integral part of changing how we view the environment, which I completely agree with. I definitely thought that his ideas about teaching the environment across multiple subjects (and not just the sciences) was brilliant and now I’m wondering why we don’t do that more often. In a sense, I felt like we were following Latour’s suggestions in our E-Sem class and approaching the environment in an interdisciplinary way. It was nice that we were allowed the platform to do so, but it was also sad that this was the first time I had the opportunity to do this. I keep thinking about the rest of our class that doesn’t (and probably never will) have the same opportunity, despite the fact that environmental issues affect us all equally.  

In terms of writing, I felt like the weekly essays were useful in forcing me to write consistently and to articulate my thoughts about the articles we read that week. The biweekly conferences were also extremely helpful as it was a safe space where I could work through my thoughts and ask clarification questions about issues that I was unsure about. I felt like through writing so many essays, I was able to see across the board what mistakes I was making repetitively. For example, I noticed that I have to work on my introduction paragraphs more, especially by going back to them after I finish writing my essay. I also experimented with straying from the five-paragraph essay format, which I thought was much more effective in getting my point across.

Overall, I felt like this E-Sem was the perfect fit for me and my interests, and I am definitely going to pursue some of the topics we talked about and research them a little more!