Environmental Literature, Ethics, and Action

ELEA Blog Mission Statement

The main goal of the course “Environmental Literature, Ethics, and Action” (ELEA) in Barnard College’s Science and Public Policy Program is to deepen students’ understandings of the human role in nature and the environment. Finding their personal motivation is essential as the ability to understand and express what drives one to act responsibly will help inspire others to do the same. Developing an appreciation for the ways in which one’s actions affect those with whom one shares the planet is a key goal of the course, which will be met through readings and class discussions, through research, bi-weekly progress reports, and term environmental stewardship projects, and tracked in the course ELEA weblog (or blog). At the end of the term, student projects are presented orally in class as PowerPoint presentations, as written documents in term papers, and as abstracts on the course ELEAblog.

The ELEAblog serves as a vehicle for students to track their progress toward another goal of the course, which is to deepen their understanding of how their worldview and environmental mores differ from others based on personal experience and values, cultural and economic differences, age, gender, religion, or a variety of other factors. Although blogs cannot supplant the mainstream media as a tool for reaching such large audiences, they do fill a void. By their very nature they convey the unedited, nuanced opinions of real people that are missing in public dialogue. The ELEAblog, then, serves a purpose beyond the students and the course. The students will be sharing with the public their developing environmental values and points of view. Also they will be sharing their reactions to readings, events, news stories, weblinks, and personal experiences that shape their opinions.

While the number of people who come across the ELEAblog in their search for information on a topic may be small, the social networks are such that the ideas will travel farther than might be imagined. Those who study social networks are turning to the internet, and blogs, as vehicles for creating and maintaining the sort of casual social connections that spread ideas widely across a vast network (the Web), where the ideas live on in conversations among friends and so forth. By maintaining a blog as a budding environmental advocate or an evolving environmentally concerned citizen, ELEA students are on the cusp of an emerging trend in grassroots advocacy.

Deepening and maintaining a sense of respect—for the natural world and for other humans—is an essential part of effective environmental stewardship. ELEA seeks to expose students to various points of view on timely environmental topics to further this goal: Successful cooperation and progress toward and environmentally sustainable society depend on it.

ELEA Faculty: Diane Dittrick, Randall Balmer, and Laura Wright
Director, Science and Public Policy Program: Tim Halpin-Healy

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