Today’s students arrive to college with increased environmental awareness but often without the skills necessary to sort, interpret, and critically think about global environmental change or their relationship to it. To address the barrier of perceived student powerlessness in global environmental problems, we designed a transdisciplinary project for students to begin to take ownership of their learning experience, gain competencies in basic social science research methods, and explore agency with a community partner. In this case study, we narrate one exercise in which students created a public product of collated newspaper articles related to contemporary water issues in Oregon. The project involved the creation of an online database that resulted in a learning tool for future courses, a base for transdisciplinary research, and a deliverable for the public. The exercise proved valuable in demonstrating how students can engage with concepts of activist applied linguistics to evaluate positionalities of news sources while situating themselves as active and engaged members in their local environment. Homework assignments throughout the course revealed that students (1) gradually reported more positive and action-oriented views of their role in the environment and (2) developed greater competency in weighing the quality of media sources around environmental issues. We conclude with guided learning questions for faculty interested in implementing a similar exercise as well as suggested student discussion questions.
A Case Study of OregonWaterStories.com: Exploring Agency with Water Justice, Activist Applied Linguistics, and a Community Partner
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Melissa Haeffner, Janet Cowal; A Case Study of OregonWaterStories.com: Exploring Agency with Water Justice, Activist Applied Linguistics, and a Community Partner. Case Studies in the Environment 31 December 2019; 3 (1): 1–9. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/cse.2018.001685
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