Engaging American Indian students in Earth System Science through a Residential Summer Camp

Julie Ferguson (UC) UC Irvine

Native Americans are one of the most under-represented groups in geoscience despite a critical need for qualified environmental professionals within tribal communities who can help in managing resources and planning for the changes expected as a result of climate change. This talk will describe a 5-year NSF-funded project which brought American Indian high school students to UC Irvine for a 2-week Earth System Science summer camp (AISIESS). Students spend the first week camping at the La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians reservation where they participate in hands-on scientific activities with academic staff and the tribal environmental professionals. The second week is spent at UC Irvine where students complete Native Studies classes and work on individual projects related to environmental issues specific to their tribal community. I will describe the aspects of the camp that we felt had the most impact on students, and our ideas for continuing to increase the participation of American Indian students in geoscience and other STEM fields.

Latina Environmentalist Activism in Los Angeles: the Ovarian Psycos Bicycle Brigade

Gabriela Nuñez (CSU) CSUF

I build on the work of scholars of the humanities who argue that “the humanities provide an imaginative space and set of critical tools for grappling with issues of power, representation, and materiality. Historical knowledge and interpretive skills help us untangle the oftentimes invisible connections between ordinary structures of feeling, habit, and the political facts of the modern carbon economy that fuels climate change” [Teaching Climate Change in the Environmental Humanities, edited by Stephen Siperstein, Shane Hall, & Stephanie LeMenager (New York:  Routledge, 2017), 4]. What role can Chicanx cultural production have in the teaching of climate change and sustainability? My presentation speaks to this question to consider how we can use Chicanx cultural texts in the classroom to teach the vital connections between social justice, feminism, climate change and sustainable ways of living. By focusing on the Ovarian Psycos Bicycle Brigade I discuss how this group co-opts the language of fear and history of colonialism to assert themselves as cyclists and activists.

Can the Resilience Commitment be an Effective Step in Transforming our Curriculums, Campuses, and Communities for Climate Justice?

Lily House-Peters

This talk will draw on my firsthand experience implementing the Second Nature Resilience Commitment at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB). The Resilience Commitment is a comprehensive 3-year campus planning and community engagement process that aims to reduce vulnerability and enhance resilience to future climate impacts. The concept of resilience has been troubled in the academic scholarship, receiving critique from multiple disciplines for its lack of attention to power relations, politics, and social/environmental justice. However, the process of operationalizing the Resilience Commitment at CSULB has sought to thoughtfully engage these critiques and move forward with issues of diversity, power imbalances, and climate justice as core organizing themes. Thus, I will attempt to tackle the question of whether the Resilience Commitment can function as an effective step in transforming our curriculums, campuses, and communities to achieve climate justice goals. I will share our experience with the process, including opportunities and obstacles, and discuss how we are working to infuse resilience into a broad range of campus and community activities.

Teaching professional and leadership skills, sustainability awareness, and self-efficacy through collaborations between university and high school classes

Jessica Pratt

Communication and collaboration across disciplinary boundaries and between communities of learning and practice are essential to addressing the myriad conservation and sustainability issues facing our society. One step in achieving this is to foster mutually beneficial relationships between the university and the community to promote positive social and environmental change. A learning objective that educators often have for students is effective communication of course content to broad audiences. Assignments relating to this learning objective typically only require students to interact directly with other students in their classes; where students conduct and present research projects on relevant issues this often means they are “preaching to the choir.” Integrating student-public interactions into courses through community-engaged scholarship and presentation of course projects to audiences outside of the university setting provides students with a more empowering experience that teaches essential professional and leadership skills. In particular, collaborations between university and high school classes on such projects can increase sustainability awareness and self-efficacy for all students. Interaction in such settings allows students to increase the impact of their research, network with important community groups, form mentoring relationships, and contribute to a shared vision for sustainability locally.

Student Experts and Partners: Engaging Student Strengths in the Climate Justice Classroom

Jade Sasser

Students today have access to a broad range of digital platforms, many of which they engage with daily. Drawing on student knowledge and expertise in digital communications and social media platforms repositions them as partners in the classroom and offers strong opportunities for pedagogical innovation. In this talk, Ireview examples of how I have partnered with students to develop lesson plans, interactive assignments, data repositories, and opportunities for creative advocacy and other engagement on gender, justice, and climate change.

“Feeling Funny about Environmental Crisis: How and Why to Teach beyond Gloom and Doom”

Nicole Seymour (CSU) CSUF

I will explain how I teach texts that model a broad range of affective responses to climate change — that is, that move beyond “gloom and doom” to showcase irony, irreverence, and other “inappropriate” feelings. These texts do multifaceted work: first, they identify climate change as an affective (and not just scientific, or even political) issue, they open up discussions with students around their own feelings, and they demonstrate the political contributions of traditions such as parody and satire.

Undergraduate Research: Design as an Umbrella for Examining Sustainability and Addressing the Human-Animal Equation

Lucy HG Solomon, Samia Carrillo-Percastegui, Mathias Tobler, Kodie Gerritsen, Sarai Silva Carvajal

The Jaguar Umbrella Project is a collaborative and community-engaged research project pairing jaguar conservation with interactive media. Undergraduate research is the linchpin in this interdisciplinary art endeavor, which brings conservation biology to K-12 education and the public through art and design. The Jaguar Umbrella Project partners with conservation biologists, Samia Carrillo-Percastegui and Mathias Tobler, who study jaguars in the Amazon with the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research in Peru. The project relies on the design innovations of CSUSM undergraduate researchers, Kodie Gerritsen and Sarai Silva Carvajal. We discuss an integrated arts and science approach to teaching K-12 students about complex ecosystems and personal responsibility. Through this lens we ponder the role of human beings as planetary actors in the Anthropocene.

Doing History is Climate Action? Collaborating with Non-Profits on Storytelling and Public Education Projects

Kristina Shull

I will discuss how a “Climate Refugees” History methods and writing course I taught in the Winter of 2017 at UCI has become a springboard for producing a collaborative multi-media project that features the stories of migrants in US immigration detention and refugee camps abroad. Collaborators on the project include the non-profit Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), undergraduate and graduate students, UC and CSU professors, and UCI’s Office of Sustainability.

Q & A

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36 replies
  1. Tori Derr says:

    I have only watched three talks yet, but will be out of town for a chunk of the conference/week, so am trying to cluster my responses and hope to come back again later next week.

    @ Jessica – It was so nice to see your presentation again – I love this project and have been thinking about how I might fold this into my capstone course next year! It’s nice to see it in the presentation form so I can draw from it further.

    @ Lucy – I didn’t get to meet you (Jessica was at the Monterey Bay regional meeting), but I loved your presentation. I taught a class for several years in which students designed sustainable systems, usually around food production, out of resourced materials, but I love how this project is also designed to communicate an idea, and the creative and playful way that this is accomplished. The graphics and mobile are just great! I really appreciate your approach, and know I’ll come back to it in some way, so thank you!

    @ Tina – I love your class and CIVIC! I wonder if you are attending the conference on community writing in Boulder in October? https://www.communitywriting.org/ Or have you used this method? Would you be willing to share your syllabus with me by email, too? I will be teaching an environmental studies research methods course and would love to share your work as an example of how history/oral histories are applied. If you have anything additional that I could share, please let me know.

    • Jessica Pratt says:

      @Tori – I am hoping to design a small research project around the impacts of the poster session on both University and High School students. I’m designing some pre- and post-surveys for each group and it would be great to have this replicated somewhere else. Let me know if something like that interests you.

  2. Lucy HG Solomon says:

    Tori Derr, thank you for the message. I also just watched your talk and see cross-over between our approaches – especially in our target audiences. I posted a question for you about the importance of play to strategies for mobilizing and engaging with youth…

  3. Lucy HG Solomon says:

    Kristina Shull, I enjoyed learning about how you add time travel and global perspectives to climate change analysis. I’m interested in your collaborative approach to narratives and how you combine the individual’s story with art and imagery. Your combinations of stories with art to illustrate the detained immigrants’ statements are dynamic. I’m curious whether there is follow-up with the storytellers, or “next chapters,” and how the storytellers have responded to their multimedia-infused narratives…

  4. Lucy HG Solomon says:

    Jade Sasser, I was excited to hear about your data rescue exercise in connection with gender and climate change. There are so many layers to having students build that archive. What a great idea for a class activity!

    • Jade Sasser, UC Riverside says:

      Hi Lucy, I love the idea of data rescue efforts, and given that I have no knowledge of coding, I knew that we would have to modify the approach. This way, we rescued data that was downloadable separate from root websites, and also created something students can use for years to come. It really made a difference in how engaged they were in the activity.

      • Lucy HG Solomon says:

        There is a “citizen science” element to the data rescue effort that could be replicated in other contexts. In your class students build the archive by downloading. There is a faculty member at CSUSM who engages in crowd-sourced data collection (Christina Simokat in Environmental Studies) to catalog local plant species found in the area. Combining these methods of data flow has a lot of potential, and the “KAN network” could be an interesting place to locate this information.

  5. mstemen@csuchico.edu says:

    Lily, Great work! Has the campus been able to reduce greenhouse production? As a commuter school, how do you track transportation? Do you consider the student’s daily commute as part of the campus carbon budget? Do you track faculty travel? Thanks in advance.

    • LilyHP says:

      @mstemen, at the campus level we have been successful at reducing GHG emissions from the energy production/consumption side of the equation via investment in solar panels (by September, CSULB will have the most solar energy production capability of any CSU campus), a Tesla battery system for storing energy, renovations to our central plant, and new zero-emissions building construction. But, as a commuter school with 38,500 students (less than 2,000 students live on campus) emissions from transportation (ie. student, faculty, and staff commuting) remains an enormous challenge. We do consider emissions from commuting as part of our campus’ carbon budget, it makes up over 60% of total carbon emissions!! The campus does transportation surveys, but they are not comprehensive and there is no daily tracking of how people commute to campus. Commuting remains a huge obstacle for our campus.

  6. cslown says:

    I just got back from a conference occurring concurrently with the opening of this conference. This is the first opportunity to comment and engage-thank you for your work, dedication, activism and outreach
    @ Julie F.-thank you for the inspiration to incorporate waste management as part of our curriculum. I contacted our local waste management after your talk and they are eager to work with out students. I would appreciate hearing more about how you developed student experiences through that agency.
    @ Gabriela N.-Your articulation of narratives teasing out “who survives?” struck me, as one of the ways students have responded when exploring climate change is the compassion students express when considering high heat days in India for women who have no access to electricity and thus no protection from 120 degree heat waves. The vision of creating pathways is one example I will share will students to help them envision what solutions are possible when we work together. Thank you.

  7. cslown says:

    @ Lily H.-P.-Thank you for your articulation of the resilience commitment. I am curious, could you provide insight as to how you built such an extensive collaborative network. One of the conversations that often occurs with students is “how to get started building a network?” or “how to connect with and navigate within an existing network?”
    @ Jessica P.-Brilliant concept! I discussed the idea of a poster session with several local high school teachers who host a sustainability conference. We are currently troubleshooting logistics as transportation is a challenge to and from our campus for south county students, another question that came up was: do you have a rubric you used to introduce the students to the concept in order to make the assignment more transparent? We plan to organize at least two in the fall-thank you!

    • Jessica Pratt says:

      @ cslown – the transportation issue is always a big one. We went to the closest high school for that reason and had the poster session in their library, rather than bringing high schoolers to the university because it seemed more logistically complicated. I’m not sure what you are asking entirely – I have detailed assignment descriptions and rubrics for grading and my students receive feedback at several stages of developing their posters. We did not give high school students any kind of orientation other than what their own teachers may have told them. Happy to talk more both on and offline about the logistics. It would be great to have this replicated elsewhere!

      • cslown says:

        @Jessica P. Thanks for the feedback. I like the idea of bringing the poster session to high school students both as a bridge and as necessary logistics. The idea of a rubric for the undergraduate students as “presenters” and the high school students as the “participants.” was part of what we were brainstorming. I have at least three high schools that would be interested in doing this. Will gladly collect data and send it your way. Will email after next week to start to figure out logistics-have a meeting with two of the teachers next week!

    • LilyHP says:

      @cslown, thank you for your interest in the resilience commitment and for your question. The approach I took to building the collaborative network over the last year was primarily a “snowball” approach. I took on the role of Resilience Commitment Coordinator during my first year on campus, so I had very few connections across campus and in the Long Beach community, more broadly. I began by meeting with faculty and staff members on campus who are well connected in the community. This included faculty from Ethnic Studies departments who are engaged in community-based research, faculty from the business school who are connected to business leaders in the community, and staff from the Office of Sustainability, the Center for Community Engagement, and some higher level administrators. Faculty and staff members were wonderful about facilitating introductions for me with key community groups, City of Long Beach staff, and research and outreach staff at the Aquarium of the Pacific.
      Once I had made my primary contacts, I asked those contacts for names of other people they thought I should reach out to, or who they would be willing to introduce me to. I attended a lot of community group meetings and introduced the Resilience Commitment and our campus’ program anywhere people would listen. I also attended City meetings, such as the Sustainable City Commission meetings, City Transportation meetings, and City Planning meetings, and meetings of my local City Council member. These were great networking opportunities and I was often allowed to speak during the “public comment” period to let the public know about the Resilience Commitment.
      Our monthly Resilience Working Group meetings on campus also provided a space to brainstorm with faculty, staff, and students about what connections we might be missing, as we iteratively built out our collaborative network.

  8. cslown says:

    @ Jade S.- Thank you! I am curious to learn more about how students can participate in Data Refuge and Data Rescue. Are there resources you could point me towards to help cultivate this capability in our students?
    @ Nicole S.-How do you help students encounter a different perspective? For example, some one finds a parody hilarious, the nearest neighbor is affronted. How do you create environments where students feel both 1) safe enough to express a perspective and 2) free enough to explore an alternate/antipodal position? Thank you in advance for your assistance!

    • Jade Sasser, UC Riverside says:

      Hi there! So this was a modified data rescue activity. It wasn’t officially Data Refuge, because we didn’t have coding capability, and honestly because I hadn’t planned to do it from the beginning of the quarter, thus didn’t have time to invite someone from the Data Refuge Project. My thinking and planning around class activities continually evolved in relationship to what was happening in the news.

      For this activity, we focused on stand alone, downloadable resources that were either PDFs or Word documents, so that they could be downloaded and saved, and if the root website where they were housed disappeared, it wouldn’t affect access to the material. I set up a dropbox site specifically for this project, and we spent the class session migrating the data to the dropbox site. Students continued migrating data afterward (and continue to do so) because they can come back to the repository and access sources for future classes/research, etc. The only drawback it that we didn’t save it to a public repository, but I will work with Data Refuge folks to also migrate these reports to their archives.

    • nseymour says:

      Good questions, hmm! Well, I definitely make it clear early on that no one ever has to agree with me or a given text, but that they need to understand what it’s doing. So, I never ask if they agree with or like a text, and if they start going down that path I try to steer things differently — it’s more about, “What do you think this text is trying to do? Where is it coming from? What’s it responding to? What appeals is it making? How do you know?” Even students who hate a text should still be able to analyze those things, at least in an English class! We also try to demystify things like climate denial, and in so doing I try to show my sympathy for climate deniers — which hopefully will engage any if they’re lurking in the room! It’s very easy to say that climate deniers are stupid, but that doesn’t really explain things (and it’s also not true). We talk about populism, anti-elitism, critiques of peer review, party-line stances, etc. as ways to understand climate denial. Again, it’s all about understanding and moving away from agreeing/disagreeing, liking/not liking.

  9. cslown says:

    @ Lucy HG S.-Have you considered scaffolding the umbrella project so that students across grade bands could contribute to the modeling in addition to students within a grade band? For example, could K, 3rd, 5th, and 8th grade students work collaboratively together on an umbrella? Excited to bring this to our classrooms!
    @ Tina S.-Thank you! I appreciate the thorny question “how did we get here?” I am curious if you have taught students who are “climate refugees” and/or “environmental migrants.” How does teaching history change when you, the student, are part of the rising tide or a member of a disappearing nation?

    • Tori Derr says:

      I would be interested to hear Tina’s response to your question. I have taught students who are from island nations and while are not current climate refugees, are facing that in the new future for their people. In one case, the discussions in class motivated him to take actions in new ways, brought him to tears, and mobilized and external student group to learn more and talk about how to respond. In another case, the student only would write about her experiences but did not want to speak about this in class. My experiences with native peoples is that it is very culturally dependent their willingness to talk about their feelings and experiences with the subject. People from northern US, Alaska and Canada have been very open but for some of the puebloan people in New Mexico, they hold the belief that if they speak about it, it will come to be, and so speaking about the potential impacts from something like climate change is taboo, even if they are seeing the effects. It is challenging!

      Tina – I also posed a question for you and am very interested to follow up about your syllabus for a spring course!

    • Lucy HG Solomon says:

      The test group we are working with include first through third graders, but these students are at a charter Montessori school and are all in one classroom. Working with the six and seven-year-old with needle felting for the animals has caused us to consider variations in kits, with needle felting for older students and less labor-intensive flat felt animal projects for the younger students. It could be interesting to break up the project across classes, as you suggest, without the need to have different levels of kits. In scaffolding across elementary and undergraduate levels, CSUSM students are actively involved in the project’s development and in the workshops with school children, although I’m not sure that this is replicable on a larger scale. In my mind, the downside to scaffolding across elementary school classes would be the ultimate “ownership” of the umbrella. I really like the idea of a class completing the research to select the animals that they will create, designing their umbrella, and building the music box together, with the result being that they then have this conceptual object that they created to display in their classroom. I imagine a sense of collective ownership that arises from one class building something complex together, yet perhaps this is only in my imagination. Perhaps having an exhibition for a team across grade bands would alleviate what I see as a potential loss of ownership when the project does not “belong” to one class. Do you have any suggestions for how to propel such scaffolding, while ensuring that the rewards of the collaboration are equitable?

      • cslown says:

        @ Lucy HG S.-one of the reasons I was thinking about this is because the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) has articulated progressions across grade bands. I think an exhibition is a brilliant way to bring together student work. I do have some ideas about how to scaffold across within the context of peer and near-peer mentoring. I will send a more detailed email with what your project inspired me to think about. Thank you for your beautiful work.

  10. ralaniz says:

    I think your work with the CIVIC detention stories project is excellent. I teach classes in the San Luis Obispo county jail and may begin at the California Men’s Colony. How difficult is it to create these types of videos if one has no experience doing so?

    Ryan Alaniz

  11. Amanda Baugh, CSU Northridge says:

    Jade – Thanks for sharing your great approach to teaching about sustainability and climate change using a very hands-on approach. I love how you’ve taught your students to be aware of current events, civically engaged, and proactive in their responses to contemporary issues. The photo journals from the People’s Climate March, and the class discussions they generated, seemed especially powerful. I also appreciate how you had the students become the teachers in the online teach-ins. Could you share a little more info on how you set that up? I tried to do something similar (but much smaller-scale) this semester by having groups create a public service message (video or poster) to share on social media. But I don’t think it had the impact of your project – it must have been very powerful to your students to know that others were actually learning from the presentations they created.

    Can you share tips on how

  12. Amanda Baugh, CSU Northridge says:

    Nicole – Thanks for the shout out about our related topics! Your approach of embracing “inappropriate” feelings is really interesting! I hadn’t really focused on the emotional aspect my students were experiencing beyond the sense of being overwhelmed. This definitely gives me some ideas to ponder in future semesters. I noticed that Jade employs humor in response to feelings of gloom and doom as well.

    • nseymour says:

      Yes, I think Jade and I are really in tune in this regard! I love her idea of moving from climate change as a crisis to a moment of opportunity …

  13. Jade Sasser, UC Riverside says:

    I also found this past quarter that the “inappropriate” feelings- particularly humor, sarcasm, and satire- made space for really useful teaching tools and strategies. My question is, what did your students bring to the table with them with respect to affect and environmental problems? I found that my initial assumption (that gloom and doom would be the primary student affective response to climate change) was wrong. Instead, gloom and doom shared equal space and time with irreverence, wit, and sarcastic humor. It’s interesting to see what surfaces when these assumptions are displaced.


    • nseymour says:

      Yes, I’ve found that students are really hungry for humor and irreverence overall. But it’s funny; it can really depend on the class. In this most recent Lit & Environment class, many students seemed to resist the humor, and they were the ones asking us to talk about the pitfalls of such approaches — which sort of made me feel like I was clowning around too much! In any case, humor is just my default teaching mode, and I can’t really get away from it, regardless of the subject.

  14. John Foran, UC Santa Barbara says:

    Wow, Julie, that was a very informative, from the first slides on underrepresented students in the Geosciences! Thanks for teling us about a very cool program, that seems so thoughtfully organized. I know it is very early to be able to say, but have any of the students applied to UCI? Have you had an opportunity to work with anyone at the college level?

  15. John Foran, UC Santa Barbara says:

    Thanks, Gabriela, for this presentation — I loved the critical racial history and social movement studies that are interwoven here, with much else besides! Your analysis is sharp, detailed, and illuminating. I see it as a model of intersectional analysis, one which illustrates a multi-dimensional, intersectional, and connect-the-dots kind of scholar activism — is this how it is used in a classroom setting?

  16. nseymour says:

    @ Gabriela — I loved learning about the Ovarian Psycos! I appreciate the way that they/you critique certain sustainability efforts (such as building new, “safe” bike paths) as insidious gentrification tactics. I’ve been thinking a lot about what defines “green gentrification” and how it works. As someone who also works in trans studies, I’m also curious to know how the Brigade positions themselves as trans-inclusive, considering how important cisgender female biology (the ovaries, the fallopian tubes) is to their iconography.
    @ Jade — Wonderful, inspiring talk. Can you tell me more about how the online teach-ins worked? Did students actually launch them, or just design them? And are any available to the public online? Also, as regards the memes assignment around climate denial — love this idea. But I worry in my own classroom about students feeling superior to “stupid” climate deniers. (I’m reminded of this recent article: https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2017/06/lectureporn-the-vulgar-art-of-liberal-narcissism.html.) Do you try to manage that possibility?

  17. Lucy HG Solomon says:

    Nicole Seymour, I will read “Cuisine” and definitely have an interest in Climate Change Theater Action. Parody provides needed humor and an often delightful sideways approach. I have made projects that are more layered in this way (with my art collective, The League of Imaginary Scientists). I’m curious how you and your students have participated in the biannual theater project and what your other favorite texts might be that have a similarly slanted approach to climate change…

    • nseymour says:

      Ooh, tell me more about The League of Imaginary Scientists, please! 🙂

      The first time I did CCTA I had only just heard of it so I didn’t have time to plan much. We simply performed and then analyzed two of the plays in class, and then Tweeted some images of ourselves with the hashtag! For this fall, I want to do more, but of course there’s always the issue of time and money. I might make it a whole week where we read multiple plays and maybe student groups have to present analyses — so, something like a mini-symposium. I would love to do something more major on campus — but, again, time and money.

      As for other favorite texts, well, I happen to have a forthcoming book all about ironic and playful environmental texts. 😉 It will probably be out next year. Some great teachable ones that jump to mind are Wildboyz, Idiocracy, LaTasha N. Nevada Digg’s poem “My First Black Nature Poem TM,” Goodbye Gauley Mountain, and Queers for the Climate.

      • Lucy HG Solomon says:

        Thanks for the text examples, and I look forward to the book! The League of Imaginary Scientists typically combines interactive installation (sculptures that you can touch and respond to you) with performance. We provided climate therapy for an ailing planet’s inhabitants for one festival. We’re working on an interactive video and sculptural installation for Balance – Unbalance in the UK in August. The projects are along the lines of the jaguar umbrella project in my talk, only edgier (not just for a K-12 audience).

        Let’s keep in touch about CCTA. Maybe we could collaborate in some way in the future, with visual responses from my students to accompany textual analysis from yours – perhaps?

  18. Tori Derr says:

    Some of you were interested in seeing Shine – the climate change youth performance. Beth Osnes, at University of Colorado asked me to review her forthcoming book which will feature these productions, and I now have a vimeo link to Shine that I am sharing – https://vimeo.com/194833723

    The forthcoming book will be titled Performance for Resilience: Engaging Youth on Energy and Climate through Music, Movement, and Theatre by Beth Osnes, published by Palgrave Macmillan, 2017

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