Course Descriptions

ODST 248 SPTP Core Course: Sustainability Studies – Dr. Cathy Shrady

This course will examine some of the essential topics in sustainability not covered by the other Sustainability Semester courses. Possible topics include: food, energy, transportation, social justice, population, green building, urban sustainability and more.  Students will work with community partners to learn about issues of sustainability in thelocal area and experience a variety of practices and skills related to sustainable living in the North Country. This course includes two week’s residency in Boston during which students will focus on urban sustainability.

Sustainability Theory and Practice: A Critical Assessment Dr. Bill Vitek

This course will offer an overview and critical assessment of some of the founders, fundamental assumptions and contributions of the environmental sustainability movement in an effort to evaluate its effectiveness as an inside the paradigm response to the most critical challenges of our time.  How does sustainability stand up as a social movement, or as a successful response to the greatest challenges of our—or any—time in modern human history?  Can we speak of it as a single movement?  Does it represent a true social and conceptual revolution, or is it operating largely within the status quo worldview that brought us our environmental challenges in the first place?  Can it do the work we need it to do as an inside-the-paradigm movement or does the heavy lifting in response to climate change, soil erosion, a burgeoning human population, and the energy and material demands of complex cultures demand a fuller, deeper and more radical approach?  And if a more radical approach is necessary, will sustainability give us the time we need?

PCA 312 Environmental Communication: Food, Communication, & Citizenship Dr. Jessica Prody

In an essay titled “Commencement” Terry Tempest Williams writes, “I realized that in American Letters we celebrate both language and landscape, that these words, stories, and poems can create an ethical stance toward life.” Environmental Communication (EC) is a course that begins with the premise identified here—language shapes how humans live with the natural environment.  As a discipline EC recognizes that how we speak about the environment and who is allowed to speak about the environment affect how humans view, interact with, and make policy about their surroundings. This course will use food as an entrance into the discipline and a lens through which to look at how rhetoric creates relationships between humans and humans and the environment.  Throughout the course students will examine how food discourse (particularly that which advocates local food) connects issues of citizenship, community building, and environmentalism.  Students will encounter theoretical concerns of EC scholars (such as corporate marketing and green washing, the nature/culture divide, and questions of race, class, gender, and world position raised by those in environmental justice and food justice movements). Most importantly, students will have the opportunities to engage in their own critiques of food discourse and produce their own public pieces of environmental communication.

ENG/ENVS 282 Going Locavore – Dr. Mary Hussmann

Selected texts, films, speakers, and various writing assignments will provide a contextual framework for class visits to and volunteer work on three local farms in order to understand the historical roots and possible alternatives to a growth economy and the shift from local, small scale farming to the crop monoculture and CAFO feedlot model of current agribusiness. With this framework in mind, students will read work by contemporary writers immersed in the experience of local food and local living. Additionally, students will study the strengths and weaknesses of their various rhetorical strategies to understand that effective “environmental” writing is as varied as other forms of creative nonfiction and depends equally on context, venue, subject, audience, and authorial intent.