Dr. Jamie Teeple, Educational Studies
This summer I collaborated with the Valley and Ridge cohort to explore the potential, parameters, and products of an “ecojustice” course within the Educational Studies Department. Ecojustice as an academic topic essentially constitutes the nexus of deep ecology and social justice tenets, the amalgamation of which results in novel approaches to mitigating social-ecological problems (such as the localized and asymmetric impact of climate collapse on specific communities, the proliferation of food deserts and how they imbricate with structural racism and classism, including many more foci). Through my Valley and Ridge experience, I learned how to concentrate my thinking on a series of possible activities and products that could serve as the practical core around which I could build the course. More specifically, I devoted my workshopping to the idea of planning a community garden and how this could tie into the needs of its surrounding community. It should be added that because the putative course is one for preservice educators, it would take on a “meta-educational” approach, giving future teachers the tools to create community gardens in their eventual locales. So, my task was to imagine how the course could be geared toward giving teachers the tools to then produce community gardens wherever they eventually call home. The course would thus be comprised of a mixture of research into community gardens, the sociological reasons for their value, practical methodologies for crafting thriving gardens, and then approaches for distributing free, healthy, and culturally-appropriate food into communities. Crucial to the development of this thinking was visiting the College’s farm and seeing how they have sustainably cultivated produce and the immeasurably positive impact they are having on students and the community, and this will serve as the guiding exemplar as I continue to develop this course for future implementation.