SHARING STRATEGIES FOR TEACHING CLIMATE CHANGE AT ASLE CONFERENCE 2017
Matthew Schneider-Mayerson, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies, Social Sciences Division
The TIG enabled me to attend the biennial conference of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment in June 2017, where I appeared on a panel on ”Climate Justice Pedagogies: Affect, Action, and the Anthropocene.” As the title suggests, this panel was an opportunity to discuss pedagogical strategies for teaching humanities courses focused on climate change, environmental justice (the way that environmental issues affect different communities in different ways, based on race, ethnicity, gender, class, and nationality), and the Anthropocene (our current geologic age in which humans act as a world-shaping force). The number of humanities courses that touch on climate change are growing, along with the umbrella category of environmental humanities,” which includes literature, history, philosophy, religious studies, anthropology, and art history. I presented a paper on “Performative Pedagogy: Modeling Affect in Climate Change Courses,” which argued that instructors in climate change courses serve (for better or worse) as emotional and behavioral models, since most students lack a “cultural script” that guides their response to this emotionally challenging material. This was an extremely popular panel, attended by at least 100 people.
The papers that appeared on the panel, by scholars of environmental justice, art, literature, music, and philosophy, have been submitted as a
special section on teaching climate change in the humanities, currently under review for publication in the journal Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities. The panel itself, and my discussions with my co-panelists afterward, have led to the sharing of some exciting
pedagogical strategies, which I will be applying in my “Foundations of Environmental Humanities” module next semester – particularly relating to the grounding of climate concerns in local or regional issues, the value of assigning both critical and creative assignments, and an awareness of the emotional dimensions of environmental humanities courses. More broadly, the TIG gave me a welcome push to learn more
about pedagogical theory and strategy, and an entry into a network of scholars dedicated to innovative and effective teaching in my field.