B.A. Gustavus Adolphus College
M.A. and Ph.D. University of Minnesota
Current Professional/Research Interest:
In an essay entitled "Commencement" Terry Tempest Williams writes, "In the open space of democracy, the health of the environment is seen as the wealth of our communities. We remember that our character has been shaped by the diversity of America's landscapes and it is precisely that character that will protect it." Throughout the essay Williams continues to make connections between the natural world and our political communities. This is the focus of my research. As an environmental communication scholar I am interested in how our communication about non-human nature shapes human relationship with it and how nature shapes human communication. More specifically, I am interested in how we might use communication to help build communities that are beneficial for both humanity and the non-human world. How, for instance, might we use our processes of communication and political debate to help shape communities in which we rely on those in our spaces for material things, such as food, clothing, and even electricity?
Food is the great human equalizer; it is something everyone needs and enjoys (when it's available). Thus, my most recent research has turned to food as a foundation on which to build a productive communicative and political project. At its base food is apolitical, something that individuals across the globe and the political spectrum can identify and see as valuable, but it is currently mired in a variety of politics as politicians debate the "fat tax," farm subsidies, global food inequities, and the merits of organic food. I ask whether or not we might be able to find a way to exercise food from this political quagmire to use it as a symbolic and material basis for forming better functioning democracies on a local community level in a way that has positive global ramifications for environmental and social justice concerns.
My research on security and community was presented at this year's RSA convention, and I will be presenting a paper entitled "Feminizing Environmentalism: Monsanto's 'The Desolate Year'" at the NCA conference in November. I am currently working on a book chapter with co-author, Dr. Brandon Inabinet, on the concept of sustainable advocacy. I am also working on an article that explores the rhetorical tool of "community" as a stronger alternative to that of "citizenship" in environmentalist discourse and politics. Personal Interests: I find I think better in open spaces, so I spend a considerable time walking in the woods or finding water to play in with my golden retriever, Thor, and any friends or family who might join me. During the summers, I spend most of my time on the Mississippi River in southeastern Minnesota pontooning, kayaking, swimming, and reading on the sandbar. I enjoy cooking, pottery, and reading novels or non-fiction essays. Bill McKibben is perhaps my favorite author. I also take any excuse I can to travel, both throughout the United States and internationally, with Italy being the place I want to go back to again and again.
National Communication Association (NCA)
Rhetoric Society of America (RSA)
International Environmental Communication Association (IECA)
Central States Communication Association (CSCA)
PCA 111 Rhetoric & Public Address
PCA 127 Introduction to Communication Studies
PCA 312C: Special Topics: Environmental Communication