Asuncion Arnendo, Spanish

Sustainability in the Context of Hispanic Cultures

The Valley and Ridge workshop provides unique training for the development of sustainability courses across the curriculum at Dickinson. AsunciĆ³n Arnedo participated in the workshop with the hope of incorporating sustainability issues into a Spanish course. The Department of Spanish and Portuguese has been very supportive of her work and will offer a new section of Spanish 231 next semester: "Sustainability in the context of Hispanic Cultures." Ideas for this course were nurtured during the workshop, a time in which we talked about different methodologies, such as place-based study and experiential learning. Both concepts will be central to the new course, and engaging students to think globally and act locally will be one of its learning goals. 

The class will begin with a two-week trip to Cuba to study food security and sustainable urban agriculture in La Havana. Upon return to campus, students will develop projects related to their experience in Cuba and also continue with other case studies in Hispanic contexts. Inspired by the notion of "sense of place" discussed during the Valley and Ridge workshop, AsunciĆ³n Arnedo has decided that students will compare what they learned about urban agriculture in Cuba with the local sustainable agricultural efforts at Dickinson Farm. The course will include readings and consideration of creative works and essays by noted Hispanic authors, such as Homero Aridjis, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Miguel Delibes among others. Readings will help students develop an understanding of how our relation to the environment is expressed in Spanish and discussion of readings will help students develop critical thinking skills. By the end of the course, students should have a basic understanding of the principal historical and cultural contexts that orient considerations of sustainability in the Hispanic world. They will also have developed an ability to express ideas and formulate responses to sustainability issues with appropriate vocabulary, both orally and in writing.