Environmental Literature | Social Justice | Sustainable Futures

Author Archives: Mary Jordan

The goal of culturally relevant pedagogy in teaching high school science is to create a sense of self in the content taught. Teachers can use science to investigate the differences between various cultures to make the content meaningful to all students including minorities. Scientific knowledge should be accessible, relatable, and applicable to every person across the whole globe regardless of skin color or cultural background. Many influential people and scientists from different backgrounds and cultures have shaped our scientific knowledge which has been overshadowed by the western designed textbooks. By implementing culturally relevant material into the science classroom we can support our students as agents of change for the unpredictable future of this earth.


Permaculture: the Importance of Community Gardens

March 31st, 2017 | Posted by Mary Jordan in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)


In the middle of an urban area in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina is a small community garden called the Wedge Community Garden. When I was a junior in college I emailed a lady about a potential gardening volunteer position and did not realize at the time how influential it would be on my outlook on permaculture, community gardens, and sharing that with others.  Shamsa Visone and I worked in the garden almost every Saturday during the warmer months growing everything from okra, to cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, bok choy, garlic, chives, and so much more. We used sustainable farming practices with little chemical pesticides to care for our plants. I learned about composting, the importance of giving back to the soil and making sure all the nutrients were in balance. I also had the wonderful opportunity of working with a high school student and began my interest in being a high school science teacher.

Developing relationships and connecting with high school students can be a challenge. I had the opportunity to connect with a student named Donte during my time at The Wedge Community Garden. Donte had been court ordered volunteer hours and decided to spend some of those working in the garden. I guided him through several projects and I tried to make the laborious process as fun as I could by asking him questions about his life and why soil is important when growing vegetables. At the beginning, he barely answered any of my questions but I did my best to keep asking because I genuinely cared and wanted him to develop a love for gardening. Over time, he began to open up with me and I really felt as if we were making progress not only in the garden but forming a mutually respectful relationship. One weekend without notice, he stopped coming to the garden. Not all of my students will be easy to connect with and each student faces their own challenges but I believe that through never giving up on them I can grow their love for science.

This is one benefit of permaculture and using urban areas to grow anyone’s love for science but also the beautiful earth we live on. I think by turning more areas with degraded soils into areas that produce food is just the beginning of producing a sustainable future in which all people have access to sustainable and wholesome food sources.

Me working in the community garden

Memes.. What are they good for? Absolutely nothing.

March 24th, 2017 | Posted by Mary Jordan in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)


I composed some memes of some “arguments” against climate change


The Pope Knows: Living in a Throwaway Culture

March 10th, 2017 | Posted by Mary Jordan in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

The Popes ENCYCLICAL LETTER “LAUDATO SI’” does a great job of putting forth a moral argument for why we need to take action on saving our planet. “Our planet” is exactly how he describes our earth. It is up to all of us to take care of our common home. He makes a plea to humanity to start to recognize the signs and symbols that we are hurting our earth and need to seek a sustainable future.

What I think stuck with me the most in this is that he talked about how we live in a “throwaway culture” in which we are quick to throw things away rather than recycle them or fix them. I think most people have the money to get the newest and best thing and are quick to abandon whatever they don’t need anymore. I think we can find a middle ground here though. We need to make better choices, make more effort, and find the places in which we can donate things for reuse. One thing I do in which I feel finds this middle ground is that when I declutter my house or get rid of old clothing I take it to the thrift store for them to reuse things. Instead of going to the mall to buy new clothes, I shop at the thrift store and buy clothes other people didn’t want anymore. I think that is a proper way of doing things.

I am sure everyone has heard of the saying “One mans trash is another mans treasure” and I think this can apply to today as well. We need to get over the “ick” factor of buying used products and spend less on new items. I think I have saved hundreds if not thousands of dollars buying things second hand rather than brand new. This includes clothing, furniture, shoes, appliances, etc. I have no shame in buying used things because in my mind we are all the same and we can all benefit from sharing things. I think the pope would agree that we can all make moves big or small to save our earth from ourselves.



There is no doubt based on the evidence that humans are having a negative impact on our environment. I like the way Yeo refers to this in that “humans have mined, cultivated, trawled, bleached and emitted their way forward with new technologies and higher populations” (2016). This statement is raw and true about the past and potential future of our species. Haraway stated that “There is no question that anthropogenic processes have had planetary effects, in inter/intraaction with other processes and species” (2015). Based on human impacts on an international basis over the last few hundred years, this point in time is starting to be referred to as the “Athropocene”. This is the period of geologic time where humans have resulted in exponential increases in anything from population, carbon dioxide, surface temperature, tropical forest loss, ocean acidification, methane, energy use, water use, and international tourism (Yeo 2016). No matter which way you mold the topic there is no denial in the power that humans have in determining the degradation or restoration of the earth itself.

Although I do think that this anthropogenic time period is vital for bringing to light the degradation as a result of humans, I do not know if this can be considered a geologic time period. Most geologic time periods contain hundreds of thousands to millions of years. This could be considered a geologic time period if we consider the long-term impact on the earth and its processes for potentially hundreds of thousands to millions of years into the future. The impact of the Anthropocene can be used as a vision or foreshadowing the future of the earth.

The question we then can ask is what do we do about it? Everyone is waiting for an answer from someone else on what to do, how to act, and decisions to make. This in itself is a whole other human problem in which we are constantly looking for someone else to do the dirty work rather than trying to figure things out on our own. As someone who considers myself a teacher it seems silly for me to wait for other scientists or people to provide answers. Yet knowing what I know, I can use my science classroom to teach what I know to be helpful as ways to influence my students and provide them with some of those solutions. This to me is the way in which I can and they can contribute in a positive way rather than negative in this “Anthropocene”.



Works cited:

Haraway, Donna. “Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin.” Environmental Humanities 6.1 (2015): 159-65. Web.

Yeo, Sophie. “Anthropocene: The Journey to a New Geological Epoch.” Climate Brief Ltd. N.p., 06 Oct. 2016. Web. 16 Feb. 2017. <https://www.carbonbrief.org/anthropocene-journey-to-new-geological-epoch>.

Meat in the Anthropocene

February 16th, 2017 | Posted by Mary Jordan in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)


John slices a potato into thin pieces while prepping dinner for his two kids, Juliette and Adam. After slicing the potato, he sets it to the side and pulls from the cabinet a bag of genetically engineered cow meat. On the bag of so called meat the label advertises that the product “Tastes like REAL meat” and “You can’t believe it’s not meat”. Without thinking, John slices open the package and the red brick-like structure falls into the pan.

In an attempt to break up the minute little squares, John takes his spatula and pokes the meat. He watches as the little bits of blood red dyed protein fall into the pan and start to brown and sizzle. The aroma of the meat cooking in the pan releases a smell unlike any type of meat he remembers as a child.


The Culture-Environment Relations- Mary Osborn

February 3rd, 2017 | Posted by Mary Jordan in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

How do environmental issues register differently in different cultures? (Or do they?)


According to Amos Rapoport in “On the Relation Between Culture and Environment”, “culture-environment relations have been among the most active and lively areas of environment-behavior studies (EBS)”. This being, because every culture views environmental issues in different ways due to the differing views of life in general. The reasons of this development of culture-environment relations is due to how culture affects behavior, cognition, and meaning (Rapoport). Culture is the eyes through which we look at the world and therefore affects the way they view the environment.

Ever since the beginning of the human species, we have learned from the world around us and created thoughts and ideas on how to look at it. These different biological subgroups of humans has resulted in the differences between groups of humans. Due to the vastness of the earth and the separation of different people, each group developed different cultures and ways of looking at the world.

Although culture is different all over the world, it is hard to define what it is. Rapoport says that culture is an “unobservable entity” that is only seen by its effects, expressions, or products. When each culture defines “environment” they define it in different ways. Environment may be the nature in which surrounds us or the environment in which we construct for ourselves.

This adds complexity for finding solutions for environmental issues and will require a cross-cultural approach to tackle. As an educator, my goal is to create lesson plans that expose my students to environmental issues and solutions while appealing to their different cultural backgrounds. Hopefully by doing this I can be an enactor of change within my students lives.


Works Cited


Rapoport, Amos. “Culture and Environment.” Culture and Environment. Carnegie Mellon University, n.d. Web. 03 Feb. 2017. <http://www.cmu.edu/ARIS_3/text/text_rapoport.html>.

Education- Mary Osborn

January 27th, 2017 | Posted by Mary Jordan in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)


Environmental education is not just learning about the environment but using every aspect of society to promote awareness of environmental needs and issues. Mitchell Thomashow talks about how the foundation of hope is at the core of learning and teaching (90). Without some sort of a hope for the future or an inspiration for something bigger, I would not have a job as a teacher. I want to instill in my students that they matter and their actions matter. Being a science teacher is about more than just teaching my students about osmosis and ribosomes but how to be critical thinkers and question the world around them. I want to instill the awareness that Thomashow talks about how there is a “sense of grandeur and wonder that accompanies this awareness. With greater appreciation of the magnificence of the biosphere, people would be more inclined to protect and preserve what they have grown to love” (89). Fostering this awareness is not only a job for science teachers but for everyone.

Thomashow talks about four broad categories as a curricular foundation which include biosphere studies, social networking and change management, the creative imagination, and sustainability life skills (91). All of these categories reinforce one another and can be implemented into everyday careers and services. We can enact change wherever we go in whatever we do by fostering awareness of our human connection with the biosphere in every one we meet. Taking this to heart, I will make an effort to encourage awareness in my students, friends, and other people I know to make my contribution to environmental education.


Works Cited


Adamson, Joni, William A. Gleason, and David N. Pellow. “Education.” Keywords for Environmental Studies. New York: New York UP, 2016. 89-92. Print.

Mary Osborn Blog 1/20/2016

January 20th, 2017 | Posted by Mary Jordan in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Discussion Question: There are many debates over food today, from whether or not we should reduce pesticide consumption to what we should serve kids at lunch to the rights of food producers to participate in shaping food cultures. We have noted terms such as “organic,” “conventional,” and “real food.” What other words have you noticed in food debates? Which ones have moved you to take action or change your daily practices?


Agriculture is something no one can say doesn’t affect their life in one way, shape, or form. “You are what you eat”, I have heard many times before yet feel that many people in America specifically are influenced by labeling, advertisements, location of items on grocery store shelves, and perceived prices of goods. This in turn affects their diet, which affects healthcare, which affects politics, and so on and so forth. Yet all that aside, the food we eat and how it is produced to me is the most important environmental issue.

Some would argue that agriculture really doesn’t harm the environment that much and this is true if the practices used by farmers and producers was sustainable. Yet in the US and other parts of the world, not all are not using the most sustainable farming practices. The carbon footprint of food waste is higher than most people think as well. CO2 emissions related to food consumption and waste is the highest in the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand (http://shrinkthatfootprint.com/the-big-footprint-of-food-waste). This is largely caused by higher agricultural carbon industries such as red meat and dairy. In addition, ready-made meals and processed foods also contribute to higher carbon emissions.

After knowing this, I want to make positive changes to reduce my food carbon footprint and join what is referred to as the “Slow Food Movement” which promotes good, clean, fair food (Slow Food International. http://www.slowfood.com/). According to their website, “roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tons — gets lost or wasted. Meanwhile over 840 million people worldwide (12% of the world population) are undernourished” (http://www.slowfood.com/what-we-do/themes/food-waste/). It is easy to forget the real value of food and therefore we are more likely to waste it. I can only do but so much yet I think if everyone made small changes to reduce the amount of food they waste, buy from local farmers, and support more sustainable farming practices we can make moves in the right direction.

Photo found at: (http://shrinkthatfootprint.com/the-big-footprint-of-food-waste).


Works Cited:

“Food Waste.” Slow Food. 2015 Slow Food, n.d. Web. <http://www.slowfood.com/what-we-do/themes/food-waste/>.

Wilson, Lindsay. “Http://shrinkthatfootprint.com/the-big-footprint-of-food-waste.” Shrink That Footprint. N.p., n.d. Web.

Hey there!

January 12th, 2017 | Posted by Mary Jordan in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Name: Mary Osborn

Hometown: Durham, NC (Bull city born and raised)

Major: BS Biological Sciences, Masters of Arts in Teaching Class of 2017- Science Education

Three topics/ideas/issues that intrigue me: Science Education and Communicating Science, Sustainable Agriculture, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Most interesting bit of news I read today (or lately): There could be more than 3 properties of water…