Environmental Literature | Social Justice | Sustainable Futures

Economy – Ryan Bronstein

January 27th, 2017 | Posted by Ryan Bronstein in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

The economy in its most used sense is far too specific. In the United States, perhaps due to the concurrent financialization of its institutions, the term “economy” is primarily associated with the market. By market, I mean the exchange of what Robert Costanza calls “built” capital, referring to human artifacts that have become a part of our daily consumption. Nevertheless, the economy is so much more than that.  It surrounds our society like an atmosphere, and much like Earth’s atmosphere, we are contributing to its pollution. In discussing economics, far too frequently are non-monetary based forms of capital disregarded. These forms include natural, social, and human capital, and include the most basic needs of life such as oxygen.  However, if these forms of capital are so important, why are they not being treated as such?

There are a lot of possible answers to this question, however it is most important to understand why it must be asked in the first place. These forms of non-built capital are not being protected.  As Costanza explains, an economy is meant to run on a sustainable scale, distribute resources fairly, and allocate resources efficiently so as to maintain asset values. Yet, as the values of our water and air degrade from pollution, it is foreign exchange rates and interest rates that receive the most protection on a given day.  The market has come to epitomize the economy, and as long as it does, the economy cannot efficiently perform its intended, more ecological role.


Works Cited

Adamson, Joni; Gleason, William A.; Pellow, David N.. Keywords for Environmental Studies. New York: NYU Press, 2016. Ebook Library. Web. 27 Jan. 2017.

The term ethnography is centered around understanding the culture, customs, and way of life in a community, and as such this keyword is deeply connected to the field of anthropology. Deborah Bird Rose, author and professor in Environmental Humanities at UNSW, describes the diverse movements that have arisen around how a researcher conducts ethnography amidst our rapidly changing world. These movements are strongly connected to numerous other keywords discussed in class, such as globalization, where communities who previously did not have access now have the ability to communicate and interact with those of other cultures and share customs and ideas.

The cornerstone of this article is its emphasis on “multispecies ethnography”. Research has shown that many communities of indigenous peoples are intricately entangled with the surrounding world of nonhuman beings, a facet of life that is rapidly altering due to climate change. A student in our class mentioned the importance of the food chain in the animal kingdom, and how extinction of one species could drastically impact an entire ecosystem. Social interactions, whether they be human to human, animal to animal, or animal to human, will likewise become altered. In applying this knowledge to ethnography, one realizes that climate change not only affects human health, but also our social relations with each other and with the nonhuman world. We are all coping with death and the enormous loss of biodiversity we’ve grown attached to, as a result, the environmental humanities are becoming more necessary to describe both our changes and nonhuman changes in behavior.

I believe that the following picture represents how the vibrancy of interactions of living beings with one another, whether they be plants or primates, has faded due to human history on earth.

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.

UniversalPartnership.org. Web. 27 Jan. 2017. <http://universalpartnership.org/exploring-human-nature-part-2/>.

The chapter in the book Keywords for Environmental Studies pertaining to my keyword, “animal”, addresses the doctrine surrounding the boundaries of the term, specifically whether or not it includes humans. From one perspective, humans dominate the earth, have developed sophisticated oral and written languages, and are by far the most powerful living species. However, there is no question that humans evolved from other animal species, so where is the boundary set?

While this question is heavily explored in the book, the reading reminded me of a previous study I did on Sikhism. Followers of this religion believe in the process of reincarnation after death, or rebirth into another physical body. Sikhs encourage morality through the promise of attaining a union with God in heaven. At a grassroots level, a soul is cycled throughout a hierarchy of beings until it behaves well enough to escape the pains of life on earth. However, if the being that the soul occupies has immoral behavior, it is reborn after death in another physical body, albeit one of a so-called lower species.

The Sikh concept of reincarnations brings about an ethical debate over the value of species. The religion does not define specific animals that are higher or lower than others, but souls can occupy one of three tiers (from highest to lowest): humans, animals, and plants. Thus, not only do Sikhs place the highest value on humans whereby they are the closest beings to holiness, but they give a clear separation between humans and other animals.


Works Cited:

Nagaraj, Anil Kumar Mysore, Raveesh Bevinahalli Nanjegowda, and S. M. Purushothama. “The Mystery of Reincarnation.” Indian Journal of Psychiatry 55.Suppl 2 (2013): S171–S176. PMC. Web. 27 Jan. 2017.

“Reincarnation.” Reincarnation – SikhiWiki, Free Sikh Encyclopedia. N.p., 1 June 2007. Web. 27 Jan. 2017.

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.

green: a definition?

January 27th, 2017 | Posted by Jessica Marlow in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Green. A seemingly simple, unassuming word, consisting of only five letters, four unique.

However, given time, thought, and consideration, the seemingly simple word loses its simplicity. Perhaps by virtue of  its initially simplicity, the term “green” becomes fluid, a word which has no definite definition, no concrete sense of being. Even Merriam and Webster, who since 1828 have faithfully defined English terminology in dictionary form, struggle to pinpoint the meaning of green. In fact, green serves as a noun, verb, adjective, and even name, totaling over a dozen different definitions. My personal favorite is the first listed for green as a noun, reading as “a color whose hue is somewhat less yellow than that of growing fresh grass or of the emerald or is that of the part of the spectrum lying between blue and yellow.”

However, in everyday life, we rarely think of green in such poetic terms. Rather, for some, words such as “life,” “forest,” and “mother nature” come to mind for some. For others, green brings back images of childhood toys such as “dinosaur” or possibly “obnoxious lime green closet” for those who went through a neon faze during middle school, or perhaps you are one of those who contemplate in more abstract terms and who would cite “happiness,” “peace,” or general “good feelings” as green. **All of the above terms are responses from gender and racially diverse college freshman at Duke**

The term green has long possessed this subjective, highly variant identity. In Germanic languages associated with vitality, in Greek and Latin associated with sickness, in Britain as a “piece of public or common grassy land situated near a town or college,” green has a multitude of meanings. Recently, there has been an evolution towards seeing green in a more ecological light, hence its inclusion in Keywords for Environmental Studies. However, the term green remains ever changing, ever adapting to the person, situation, or perspective in which it is viewed as is the color associated with the environmentally friendly movement. Both are human constructs privy to change. Perhaps in the years to come, green will find another definition completely distant from the environmental movement and perhaps the rainbow sheen of oil on water will take its place. Only time will tell.

Adamson, Joni, William A. Gleason, and David N. Pellow. Keywords for Environmental Studies. New York: New York UP, 2016. Print.

“green.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, 2016. Web. 26 January 2016.


Kevin Bhimani- Blog #3

January 26th, 2017 | Posted by Kevin Bhimani in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Keyword: Evolution

The dichotomy between schools of thought surrounding the topic of evolution presents an intriguing, yet incredibly divisive situation. On one hand there is the argument for religion and the notion that humans and the world filled with the biodiversity that we see today was created by a higher power that we cannot fully understand with our current technology. And on the other hand there is the argument for science and years of evolution that have created the world as we know it. The latter, backed by concrete evidence, has opened up a number of doors to the interpretation of evolution and the origins of every life form that we know exists. As Adamson put it, “evolution repositions humans as mortals within a temporal continuum; it connects us integrally, not only with all animals but also with our microbial ancestors…” (Adamson 113). The notion that we all started as eukaryotic cells that have evolved over time to become animals, fungi, and more is an unbelievable concept. In recent memory, there have been numerous debates about the concept of evolution and it remains one of the most controversial topics today. This video additionally presents a clear argument for the evolutionary theory made famous by the findings of Charles Darwin by observing the organisms on the Galapagos Islands. The natural selection that he observed in finches made a breakthrough in thought similar to the days of when the geocentric point of view was debunked for the accurate heliocentric model. I believe that moving forward, there needs to be increased emphasis on our evolution as beings not simply at a biological level, but in the way we think. We need to realize the gravity of our actions and make a connection to hold ourselves accountable if we want to remain on this earth that we all too often take for granted.

Works Cited:

Adamson, Joni, William A. Gleason, and David N. Pellow. Keywords for Environmental Studies. New York: New York UP, 2016. Print.




Blog Post 1- Victoria Grant

January 26th, 2017 | Posted by Victoria Grant in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Prompt: “What is your favorite movie with an environmental message? Why? Do you think films that show what you value and do not want harmed (such as beautiful sunsets at the beach or healthy children playing at a park) or document a problem (such as people walking through apocalyptic floods or dirty water coming out of someone’s faucet) or portray a fictional time and place motivate people more? Why?”

Since I was little, I have loved seeing children’s themed animated films: Disney and DreamWorks alike. Although a vast amount of time has passed, I have not grown out of love with the films I saw in the theaters as a child. Majority of the movies I saw still resonate with me especially the environmentally conscious film, Happy Feet. The 2006 film was not only enjoyable for all ages, Happy Feet introduced environmental issues in a relatable manner which allowed all who watched to understand the issue. Despite my young age, I could understand the message the screenwriter wanted to portray to their audience. Leaving the theater, adults, and children younger than me discussed the environmental issue they had been educated on. Happy Feet conveyed the message to even some of the youngest members of the audience and influenced viewers, like me, to choose to join efforts to improve environmental conditions.

Several avenues can be taken to address the environmental issues including: apocalyptic portrayals or upbeat animated films. Happy Feet was particularly effective because, the movie was understandable. Documentaries and informative films express their information which may not be relatable to everyone who observes the production. Environmental education varies from region to region: person to person. A general problem acknowledged between science and society is a lack of understanding. Scientists have discovered their limitations in progress and awareness because, the average citizen does not have an equally extensive education: preventing them from understanding the impacts of their findings or how science relates to them. With films like Happy Feet, society becomes connected to the scientific world at a basic level of understanding and can influence change.

Works Cited.

Kingdom Feature Productions ; Animal Logic ; Kennedy Miller Productions ; Village Roadshow Pictures ; produced by Bill Miller, George Miller, Doug Mitchell ; written by Warren Coleman … [and others] ; directed by George Miller. Happy Feet. Burbank, CA :Warner Home Video, 2007. Print.

Cox, Robert, and Phaedra C. Pezullo. “Chapter 4 The Environment in/of Visual and Popular Culture.” Environmental Communication and the Public Sphere. Los Angeles: SAGE, 2016. Print.

Name: Victoria Grant

Hometown: Lawrenceville, Georgia

(Intended) Major: Environmental Science and Policy and Biology (?)

Three topics/ideas/issues that intrigue me: Conservation Genetics, Animal Conservation, &  Environmental Law

Interesting Piece of News I Read Today: Badlands National Park is Tweeting Out Climate Change Facts in Defiance of Donald 🙂

1. Some climate scientists and journalists have complained that the public cannot “see” global warming. How would you solve this problem? Which medium do you think can most compellingly express the impacts of prolonged drought, rising sea levels, disease, and so forth?

I think it is a matter of time before it “hits” the public’s thoughts that global warming is actually at our footsteps- but we all need to actively show that global warming is happening NOW. Yes, there are existing efforts underway that attempt to show this, but I still personally perceive this to not be enough, as some of the efforts are diluted in telling the public that global warming will affect humans immensely in say, 150 to 300 years. It is in human nature to not take immediate action against their behavioral norms when they feel that their actions might not have an immediate consequence. I feel that to many of us, the issue of global warming has been thrown around so much, and so broadly, that we all kind of feel that global warming is a very slow thing and that we are all, at the moment, “ok”.

By focusing our efforts on showing the effects of global warming NOW, I think the message will be much more effective, and by nature, it will allow the public to “see” global warming. Personally, I at one point, felt somewhat detached to the issue of global warming by this very precise reason. I knew of it because of books, and what I learned from my teachers – and I definitely believed it. But I always had the view that this was one of many problems humanity faced, and this particular issue can take a backseat to those problems because the timescale is larger than say, people’s health effects by drinking water from a polluted lake. My perceptions were immediately changed when my parents took me to Bangladesh, the country of my ancestry, in the summer of 2010. I had been to Bangladesh many times in the past, but it was always in the North, were my grandparents and relatives lives. This time, my father took me to the southern coastal region of Bangladesh so then I could see the different, much more difficult life those in that region were living. I was stunned to see that in many places, I was knee deep in water. I noticed the ruined remains of homes due to the high elevation of the water. My father told me that 30 years ago, this region was always dry – but steadily, as sea levels rose, the region progressively flooded more and more, to the present state of today.

When I got back home, my father showed me pictures of what the region looked like before, back when he was a kid. It struck me hard – global warming was real, AND it was happening NOW. People’s lives homes and belongings are being displaced, and their lives ruined.

So I feel the most ideal thing is to physically show people the places directly affected by global warming as I had seen – but clearly this isn’t feasible. The next best thing is to spread the pictures and videos of regions like southern Bangladesh via online video sites like YouTube, and television programming. This is the next best thing to do. Increasingly , the issue of low-lying lands being affected by rising sea levels is coming to the doorsteps of nations like America, which arguably have had the greatest impact on causing global warming to begin with. I believe that once this starts to happen on a larger scale, such media propagation via television and online websites will dramatically increase.


“Rethinking How to Help Water-logged Communities in Bangladesh.” IRIN. N.p., 01 Dec. 2015. Web. 24 Jan. 2017.

Cox, Robert, and Phaedra C. Pezullo. “Chapter 4 The Environment In/of Visual and Popular Culture” Environmental Communication and the Public Sphere. Los Angeles: SAGE, 2016. Print.

Intro Blog: Thabit Pulak

January 24th, 2017 | Posted by Thabit Pulak in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Name: Thabit Pulak

Hometown: Dallas, Texas

Major: Environmental Sciences and Policy , and Biology

Three topics/ideas/issues that intrigue me: Clean Water, Sustainable Economics, Life expectancy/Quality of Life

Most interesting bit of news I read today (or lately): President Trump has passed an executive order to move forward with the construction of the Dakota Pipe Line this morning :/