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How to make sense of the complexities of humans and environments … and maybe do something?

What this class was (is) about: three steps to approach the complexity…

One) Understand key concepts and approaches: frame the way you approach an issue or topic

  • Population
  • Economic market mechanisms
  • Collective action and institutions
  • Ethics and morals
  • Risk and hazards
  • Political economy
  • Social constructivism

Each of these perspectives…

  • have benefits and disadvantages
  • can serve as very specific ways to address environmental challenges
  • work well with contextualizing natural science
  • are core ideas for environmental literacy
  • …you can follow up on these ideas in future courses, projects, directed readings, etc.

Two) Refine your interests – “Objects of Concern”

An approach to the environment that does not begin with the idea that the environment is nothing but one big bummer conflagration of problems and crises.

What motivates many of you is a desire to understand the environment and engage with it – research, advocacy, and solving environmental problems.

Find the environmental objects you are interested in, then dive in and seek to understand them in all their complexity.

Three) Practical Steps Toward Doing Something

Woven into the course is a range of skills (transferable skills!)

How To Do Something Real: The Research Process = the course project

It’s complicated, with many steps, collaboration with others, revision and expression (written, presenting)…

  • The chapter review: start with a broader context
  • Your values: what motivates you?
  • Focusing in on a doable idea
  • Using research resources to find relevant, viable literature and materials
    • Librarians! Collaoration!
    • Probably focus a bit more…
  • Annotated bibliography: Critically evaluate your literature
  • Project proposal: in the form of OWU’s TPG and SIP grants
    • bring in collaborators
  • Present your work: communication skills

Along the way, you also learned other transferable skills


Mostly – Do Something

Please bother the ENVS faculty – and other faculty – about continuing work on your draft TPG grant, developing a different grant, internships, courses, whatever.

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