Week Six

Tuesday, Feb 21 

Short Paper #7 should be about the Listening Project. You can update us on your progress. More importantly though, you can take the time to evaluate the project and suggest changes. What can we accomplish through this project? What might be reasonable goals? What do we want the product to look like? What's a reasonable timeframe for getting this done? How else can we involve these other students? Should we try to get these students to follow Nifkin on twitter and facebook so that they will see our projects?

If you've heard back from your Listening Project partner, record it here so that we can keep track.

Take a few minutes to read this:
What do Emotions Have to do With Learning? by Annie Murphy Paul

BE SURE TO COME TO CLASS ON TUESDAY
During class, we will be getting into groups for the Public Writing Research Project.

Here are some deadlines to put on your calendar:
Individual Research Documents: Thursday, March 9
Visit site/do primary research by this date: Tuesday, March 21
Set up website or blog or whatever you’re using to archive elements: Thursday, March 23
Element One: Tuesday, March 29
Element Two: Tuesday, April 4
Element Three: Tuesday, April 18
Element Four: Tuesday, April 25
Self-assessment Document: Friday, April 26

We'll talk about all of this in class.

If you want to see the assignment the Florida teacher gave his students, it's here.

Thursday, Feb 23
Read "Faux Falls" by Ginger Strand, page 131 of the anthology
The essay is about Niagra Falls, and she talks about actually visiting Niagra Falls, but what other issues and overarching ideas does she bring up?
Short Paper # 8

Be sure to sign up for an appointment with Janine! Here is the link.

We will not have class Tuesday, Feb 28 or Thursday, March 2: That's the week you will meeting Janine for your Unit One Conference. Instead, meet with your group and work on your project.

Week Five

Tuesday, February 14
Bring a rough draft of your Project Proposal.

We'll be starting the Listening Project today as well. In class, you will get the email address of the person you're going to interview. We've got students from St. Leo's in Florida, Emory University in Georgia, and Villanova in Pennsylvania. Bring a laptop/phone, or whatever you use to send emails, and you can send out an introductory email in class.

Here is how the teacher in Georgia is pitching the Listening Project to his students.

Thursday, February 16 

Bring another draft of your paper to class. We will be doing more peer review, and we'll talk about getting into groups. We can also have quick updates on the Listening Project.

By now, you should have sent an email to your digipal, with the guidelines we brainstormed:
1) Introduce yourself. Say something interesting that can start a conversation.
2) Be sure to write “LISTENING PROJECT” in the subject line of the email.
3) Suggest possibilities for how you are going to communicate.
4) Try to come off as friendly, not creepy.

You and your digipal should be working on the next task on the checklist, which is to find five significant things you have in common.

Friday, February 17

Your Unit One Portfolio is due by 2 pm. Put it in the box outside of my office, Moon 105. Be sure that the box has my name on it.

Your portfolio should include:
  • Six short papers
  • Your formal paper, the Project Proposal
  • reflective statement in which you evaluate your class participation
If you have questions about citation, you can probably find the answers at the Purdue OWL.

Weeks Four and Five

Tuesday, Feb 7 
Short Paper #6 should be a response to:
 The Wireless Woods by David Gessner.

You should also bring the Elevator pitch for your Project Proposal
The "elevator pitch" needs only to be a sentence or two: bring your idea and be ready to talk about it with the rest of the class. But you do need to get started since the rough draft will be due on February 14th and the final draft on February 16th.

We will also be starting the Listening Project soon. Here's the link.

Thursday, February 9
No class because Janine is away at a conference. Work on your formal papers!

Tuesday, February 14
Bring a rough draft of your Project Proposal.

We'll be starting the Listening Project today as well. In class, you will get the email address of the person you're going to interview. We've got students from St. Leo's in Florida, Emory University in Georgia, and Villanova in Pennsylvania. Bring a laptop/phone, or whatever you use to send emails, and you can send out an introductory email in class.

Here is how the teacher in Georgia is pitching the Listening Project to his students.

Thursday, February 16 

Bring a draft of your paper to class. We will be doing more peer review, and we'll talk about getting into groups. We can also have quick updates on the Listening Project.

Friday, February 17

Your Unit One Portfolio is due by 2 pm. Put it in the box outside of my office, Moon 105. Be sure that the box has my name on it.

Your portfolio should include:
  • Six short papers
  • Your formal paper, the Project Proposal
  • A reflective statement in which you evaluate your class participation
If you have questions about citation, you can probably find the answers at the Purdue OWL.

Week Three

If you haven't yet looked at all of our introductions on twitter, here's the link.

Tuesday, Jan 31 
Read for class:
Alison Hawthorne Deming,“The Edges of the Civilized World” on page 143
of the anthology The Future of Nature
(If you'd like, you can read Deming's most recent piece: Letter to America)
Short Paper #4

I know some of you are writing a lot about current events. If you've found an article online that you'd really like to write about (and it fits our conversation about environmental issues), put the link on UBlend and then write your short paper about it.

In class we'll talk about Listening Project 1.0 Apples to Oranges
Here's the link to our plan so far.

Wednesday on Twitter 
Go OUTSIDE and then write one line of poetry.
Then tweet that line of poetry, using #nifkin #poem
Contribute a line by 5 pm on Wednesday.
Then come back later and search #nifkin #poem to find lines of poetry.
Use Storify to put at least ten of the lines together into a poem.
Then tweet a link to your poem, using #nifkin of course.

Wednesday night and Thursday, be sure to go back and read the poems.
Vote on your favorite poem by favoriting the tweet.

Thursday, Feb 2 
Read for class:
Erik Reece, page 91, “Moving Mountains.”
If you have time, you can check out Amory Lovins' piece on the same topic:
"Leaving Appalachia Right Side Up ... at a Profit"
And here's what's happening on the issue right now.
Short Paper #5 will be a response to that reading.

In class, we will be brainstorming ideas for your formal paper,
which will be a Research Proposal.
You may want to start thinking about topics.

Week Two

Tuesday, January 24 
Read for class:
"Staying Put" by Scott Russell Sanders on page 353 of the Future of Nature
“I am Writing Blindly”  by Roger Rosenblatt
If you want to read Scott Russell Sanders' most recent essay, it was published last Thursday:  "Letter to America" 

Short Paper #2
Here's a prompt for those of you who wanted one -->
Respond to Sanders and Rosenblatt, but you can also expand the paper to talk about your own connection to place. Where are you from? Is it a landscape you feel connected to? What’s the basis of that connection? What are the stories in that landscape? Do you think that humans have a compulsion to tell stories? Where does that instinct come from?

If your books haven't arrived yet, I put copies on reserve in Moon Library.

Wednesday Twitter Madness:
Be sure that you are following Nifkin on twitter.

Using our hashtag (#nifkin), go on twitter and introduce yourself. Include a photo and something about who you are or where you are from.You only have 140 characters to make a good impression so think carefully about what you want to say.Then take some time to respond to the other students who are introducing themselves -- you can reply to them or favorite their tweets.

Search #nifkin to see how your classmates introduce themselves.

Thursday,  January 26
Read: "On Thin Ice" by  Charles Wohlforth, page 107
Read Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math by Bill McKibben
Check out the website 350.org 
Watch John Oliver's take on climate change

Short Paper #3

Week One

If you haven't done so yet, order your book:
Future of Nature edited by Barry Lopez

We'll be using google documents in this class. If you have a gmail account, then you already have a google account. If not, you can get one here.

For Thursday, January 19

Read for class:
“Is Google Making Us Stupid?”

If you haven't ever seen this video, you should watch it:
Changing Education Paradigms: Sir Ken Robinson at the RSA.

Short Paper #1 Respond to the readings with a one-page paper. (You can single-space to get it all onto one page. Just double space between paragraphs.) About 500 words or so should be sufficient. Think of the paper as your way of adding to the discussion in the classroom. We will be sharing these with each other: print your short paper out and bring it to class.

Last, if you don't have a twitter account, go here and set one up. Then follow me so that I can find you. (Once I've found you, you are welcome to unfollow me. And the only tweets from me that you are obligated to read are the ones with the hashtag #nifkin)

We will be using UBlend instead of blackboard. Once you go to the app, you will need our secret class code which is 5xmgo1

Bring laptops (and/or smartphones) to class on Thursday, we can spend the last twenty minutes of class helping anyone who is new to twitter figure out it out -- and make sure that we are all on UBlend. 

Welcome

Welcome to EWP 290 Research, Writing, and the Humanities.

In this course, we’ll be using writing to investigate environmental issues. This course has two themes that might seem to be opposite at first glance —

PLACE, NATURE, HOME, THE BODY: Environmental problems are physical; they happen in specific places, with effects that we feel in our bodies. When we talk about environmental issues, we talk about what we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and especially -- where we live. In this course we will be focusing on place. You’ll be choosing a research site that you can actually go to, so that you can experience it with your senses and do some primary research.

THE INTERNET, VIRTUAL SPACES, SOCIAL MEDIA: Environmental solutions in this century will likely come for a community of writers and thinkers, scientists and artists, policy-makers and activists who know how to collaborate, who are creative and playful, who use writing to think through their ideas, who know smart ways of doing research, who communicate clearly in their writing, who connect with other people who are concerned about the same issues, and who think critically. For most of us, the internet is the virtual place that will give us access to that community and a way to participate in that conversation.

Other themes will evolve from our discussions and writing.

Some questions we’ll be asking this semester:
What’s the relationship between place and story?
What’s our relationship to the landscape we live in?
How does where we live shape who we are?
Can caring about place translate into environmental action?
How has the internet affected our relationships to each other, to our communities, to our local landscapes, and to the earth?
How has the internet changed the way we write?
How can writing be used to help solve environmental problems?
What role might the internet play in solving the environmental crisis?

Investigating Place-based Environmental Issues
We’ll be using writing to explore and express the relationship of humans to place, with an emphasis on the environmental issues implicit in that relationship. We’ll be reading a range of essays that explore the way that humans form a relationship with the landscapes they inhabit and the way that place can change who people are.

Sidney Dobrin, the editor of the book Saving Place defines ecological literacy as “a conscious awareness and understanding of the relationships between people, other organisms, and the environments in which they live.” In our readings and classroom discussions, we’ll be looking at both built and natural environments through the lens of ecology. We’ll be looking at the relationship between humans and the environments in which they live, and trying to find patterns that might help us explain, analyze, and solve the environmental crisis.

In addition to reading selections from an anthology, we’ll be taking advantage of current environmental information that can be accessed through the internet, from websites like Orion to TED talks and webcomics like XKCD. Our discussion of place-based environmental issues will be an opportunity for you to use information you’ve learned in your other ESF courses.

Going Online with Our Ideas 
Bill McKibben is a writer and environmental activist who thinks it’s important to spend time “unplugged” – for him, this usually means hiking in the Adirondack Mountains – and yet, he has also argued that the internet can be the tool that saves the human species from destroying the earth, that the internet can be how we connect to each other and how we can educate each other. He’s been using the website 350.org and social media like twitter for grassroots organizing on a global scale. We’ll watching Bill McKibben and talking about the ways environmentalists can use the internet.

We’ll be using the internet to get information, to collaborate with each other and students outside this classroom, to explore topics, and to extend our conversation beyond just our classroom. In fact, the last ten weeks of this course is an experiment, and you will have a chance to help shape this course. I plan to use my network of colleagues who teach at other colleges; we’ll try to connect with their students in other parts of the country and the world. I’m hoping you will all use your networks as well.

Writing Skills and Practice:
EWP 290 is a course that will extend and build on the writing practices that you learned in EWP 190. Learning to write is a recursive practice. It’s like learning to play a sport or a musical instrument. You don’t go to one practice or one lesson and master the skills immediately: you need to practice the skills over and over again, from different teachers and coaches.

You will be analyzing the audience for whom you are writing, analyzing the purpose of a text and how that purpose informs how you write, using writing as a way of learning, brainstorming ideas, pitching your ideas to classmates, choosing a focus, developing ideas, incorporating research into your writing, organizing your ideas, revising your writing after getting feedback from your peers, collaborating with peers, and evaluating the writing of your peers. Writing, is of course, linked to both reading and critical thinking so those are skills that will be emphasized as well.

This course counts as your humanities general education requirement. Consider this definition of humanities from the Ohio Council of Arts: “The humanities are the stories, the ideas, and the words that help us make sense of our lives and our world. The humanities introduce us to people we have never met, places we have never visited, and ideas that may have never crossed our minds. By showing how others have lived and thought about life, the humanities help us decide what is important in our own lives and what we can do to make them better. By connecting us with other people, they point the way to answers about what is right or wrong, or what is true to our heritage and our history. The humanities help us address the challenges we face together in our families, our communities, and as a nation .... As fields of study, the humanities emphasize analysis and exchange of ideas rather than the creative expression of the arts or the quantitative explanation of the sciences …. Literature, Languages, and Linguistics explore how we communicate with each other, and how our ideas and thoughts on the human experience are expressed and interpreted.”

Social media
In this course, we’ll be using twitter and other forms of social media as a way of enlarging the conversation beyond our classroom. Knowing how to use social media is not a prerequisite for the course, so don’t panic if you don’t have a twitter account. You’ll have one soon! We can learn from each other and figure it out as we go along. Your teacher finished graduate school USING A TYPEWRITER so it shouldn’t be too hard to keep ahead of her.

Note: Learning how to use social media (and other digital tools) is a skill that is increasingly valued in today’s workplace. William Ward from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Publication says: "Students with social media certification are getting better jobs and internships. Those who harness social communications are in high demand and have an advantage." (Article here) That’s not why we’re using twitter, but it’s a nice bonus.

Books
The Future of Nature edited by Barry Lopez
We’ll also be using links to online publications and websites throughout the semester. Be sure that you check this blog for assignments.

More on this course
If you’d like to see some of the theory behind the way this course is planned, check here.