Environmental Literature | Social Justice | Sustainable Futures



Jan 12:  Who are you? Why are you here? What do you aim to accomplish in the course? What work do you hope we’ll do here together?

Introduction to the course


Narrating Nature

Jan 17:  What is n/Nature? How are our notions of n/Nature formed? Who owns the idea of n/Nature?

Readings: Cox, Introduction + Chapters 1 – 2 (Sakai)

Jan 19:  How are our notions of n/Nature constructed/mediated?

Readings: Cox, Chapters 3-4 (Sakai)

Bring in examples to share: find us several examples of public artifacts/institutions—in the form of film clips, ads, stories, graphics, objects, campus initiatives, etc—that illustrate, and advocate, a particular definition of n/Nature.

  • Blog, due Friday at midnight, Choose one or more of the discussion prompts from Cox and post a creative or critical reflection in response to that/those prompt(s).


Introduction to the Environmental Humanities

Jan 24:  What are the Environmental Humanities? What can they do?

Readings: Deborah Bird Rose et al Thinking Through the Environment, “Unsettling the Humanities” and Poul, Adamson, et al “Humanities for the Environment—A Manifesto for Research and Action”

Jan 26:  Key Terms in Environmental Studies/Humanities

Readings: Keywords for Environmental Studies

**Choose one or two of the terms to present to the class. Fill in the spreadsheet, first come first served—Skip Environmental Justice, Ethics, and Anthropocene (we’ll come to these mid-term).

  • Blog, due Friday at midnight, post a critical or creative response to your chosen key word(s).


Global South Environmental Humanities

Jan 31: South Pacific

Readings: Introduction (by John Joseph Adams) and Forward (by Paolo Bacigalupi) to Loosed Upon the World (Sakai)

Readings: Bacigalupi, “The Gambler” and Vandana Singh, “…Can Cause a Tornado…” (Sakai)

Humanities for the Environment, Asia Pacific

Feb 2:  Latin America

Readings: Angela Penrose, “Staying Afloat” (Sakai)

Latin American & Caribbean Studies Environmental Humanities work at Duke: Narrating the Environment

  • Blog, due Friday at midnight, prompt: How do environmental issues register differently in different cultures? (Or do they?)


Feb 7: Living Oil,

Readings: Oil on Water

Feb 9:  African Futures

Readings: Italo Calvino, “The Petrol Pump” (Sakai)

Humanities for the Environment, Africa, read “About Us” and each of the “Themes”.

In Class: Pumzi

  • Blog, due Friday at midnight, critical or creative response to Oil on Water, Pumzi, and “The Petrol Pump”


The Anthropocene

Feb 14:  What is the Anthropocene? What are we to do with it?

Readings: Dipesh Chakrabarty, “The Human Significance of the Anthropocene” (Sakai)

Donna Haraway, “Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene”

Sophie Yeo, “Anthropocene: The Journey to a New Geological Epoch” (be sure to read the timeline)

Feb 16:  Love in the Anthropocene

Readings: “The Holiday” and “Fly Fishing” from Love in the Anthropocene (Sakai)

  • Blog, due Friday at midnight, “Life in the Anthropocene”


Feb 21:  Climate Change = Everything Change in the Anthropocene

Readings: Margaret Atwood, “It’s not Climate Change, It’s Everything Change”  and Atwood, “Time Capsule Found on the Dead Planet”

Feb 23:  Before the Flood

      In class: Before the Flood

  • Blog, due Friday at midnight, “Climate Change is Everything Change”


Environmental Justice (in the Age of the Anthropocene)

Feb 28:  What is Environmental Justice?


1) Cox, Chapter 10 (Sakai)

2) “The History of Environmental Justice in Five Minutes”

3) The terms “Environmental Justice” & “Ethics” in Keywords for Environmental Studies (Duke Libraries ebook)

4) Watch: Environmental Justice Explained

Optional: Ezra Markowitz, Marco Grasso, and Dale Jamieson, “Climate Ethics at a Multidisciplinary Crossroads,” and Dale Jamieson, “Two Cheers for Climate Justice,” p796-801

March 2:  Mini Presentations of Midterm Projects, In-class exercise

  • Midterm: Projects Due Friday by midnight: Issue Analysis


Global Environmental Action

March 7:  Outdoor EcoMedia Challenge

Skim: Encyclical Letter, LAUDATO SI,’ “On Care for Our Common Home”
Skim: The UN Paris Agreement (downloads are on the right side of the page)

In Class: Outdoor EcoMedia Challenge

March 9:  International Climate Agreements & EcoMedia Participation

Finish reading in full The UN Paris Agreement

Finish reading in full the Introduction and Chapter One of the Encyclical Letter, LAUDATO SI,’ “On Care for Our Common Home”

  • Blog, Write a creative or critical response to our readings and in-class activities this week. Use one or more of your images.


March 14:  Spring Break – No Class

Will you be gaming over spring break? Add these to your queue: FutureDelta2.0 and Walden, a game

March 16:  Spring Break – No Class


March 21:  Climate Art

Reading: Look through the artworks listed on my Climate Art document. Choose at least one that you like and one that you dislike and be prepared to share which and why. Bonus points go to those who can find at least three climate/environmental change artworks not listed on this document. To count, the works must respond to a climate or environmental change issue.

March 23: Australian Climate Futures & Carbon Diaries

Readings: Keri Hulme, “Floating Words” and “The Pluperfect Pā-wā” from Stonefish (Sakai)

Readings: Carbon Diaries, Chapter 1

Research: Do a bit of research on carbon and climate change so that you might answer the following question: How does carbon affect climate change? How does climate change affect carbon? What are nations, cities, communities around the world doing to reduce carbon? What is missing when we focus only on carbon?

  • Blog, due Friday by midnight. After our week of climate art, Anthropocene art, environmental art, and artistic experimental environmental literature, use text (write something) or images (see Image Blog instructions) to tell a creative or critical story in response.


Permaculture & Sustainable Humanities

March 28:  Citizen Climate Stories

Explore: Look at the projects Climate Stories NC, @EverydayClimateChange, Imagine Us, 2040, DearTomorrow, and Postcards from Climate Change

In Class: Begin Inhabit

March 30: Inhabit(able)

Readings: David Holmgren “The Essence of Permaculture”

Watch: “What is Permaculture Design? in 3 Minutes”

In Class: Finish Inhabit & open discussion on permaculture

  • Blog, due Friday at midnight: “Permanent-Permutable Permacultural Futures”


April 4:  Duke Marine Lab visitor: Oceans & Waste

Readings: Nick Hayes, Rime of the Modern Mariner, a graphic novel, and Laura Parker, “Ocean Trash: 5.25 Trillion Pieces and Counting, but Big Questions Remain” from National Geographic.

Optional: “The Plastic Tide,” A documentary of ocean plastics.

April 6:  Duke Farm: Visit to the Duke Farm!

Read “Last Word with Farmer-Author Wendell Berry

Optional: Here are three articles from Grist, one, two, and three, on farmers using conservation techniques.

  • Blog, due Friday at midnight: Post Final Project Abstracts


April 11:  Sustainable Food/Farm Humanities

Readings: Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, Chapter 1. Available online here: http://a.co/d3HBkbg.

In Class: Discuss reflections from our farm visit, review the Wendell Berry interview, and dive into Kingsolver.

April 13:  Farming & Food Today

Read any two articles from Grist Food

Read any two articles from Civil Eats

Optional: Readings: Abrahamsson and Bertoni, “Compost Politics”

  • NO Blog, Start an outline for the written portion of your final research project. Share that with me via Google docs by Monday the 17th at Noon.


Speculative (Hopeful!) Futures

April 18:  Solutions Map

Readings: Elena M. Bennett et al, “Bright Spots: Seeds of a Good Anthropocene” (Sakai) and Seeds of Good Anthropocene website and Sustainia


a) Map your solutions – you should have at least three

b) Find three global solutions posted by fellow students that are new to you. Think about the 1) problem they propose to solve 2) their cultural context(s) 3) their adoption 4) their adaptivity to other countries/locations.

April 20: The World We’ll Make

In Class – Greatest Hits and Superheroes

  • Blog, No blog

April 25:  Class Presentations of Final Project

May 4:  Final Projects & Project Reports Due

Image source: npr.org