Thursday September 18th marked a very special day in Environmental Studies history — we began thinking about our ENVS concentrations, which will dictate what direction we go with our majors. Instead of approaching our concentrations head on, we worked with our lab groups to produce random options. We entered a topic or object of interest and a location, randomized each one, and tried to come up with relevant questions for each random pair. It was interesting to come up with these ideas because it was so broad that it was difficult to even come up with ideas. We can practically do anything under the sun, anything that we’re interested — we just need to find connections and situate our ideas. That brings me to another interesting facet of our Thursday morning exercise: situating. At first I thought situating would just be in a general place, like a certain country or geographical location. It’s not! It can be geologically based, based on certain languages or religions, based on biomes or even demographics of an area. This activity was an interesting way to get started, but it was also a bit frustrating to be so close to something you want to do but not being able to do it.
My entire life I have been pulled between different passions. I would be absolutely thrilled if I could merge them all into a single area of interest. Education, ethnic studies, and art seems like an ambitious amount of material to cover, but if it’s at all possible, I think they would combine to make a really interesting concentration. Ethnic studies and education seem to go hand in hand, especially in the outdoors — I would like to study the effects outdoor experiential education has on minorities since usually minorities don’t have as many opportunities to participate in experiential education. It might be a little bit more difficult to include art, but it could be a valid method to introduce students to a different environment and observe how/if their perceptions change over time.
Initial questions to consider: How do students’ perception of their surroundings change as they are exposed to outdoor education? In what kind of environment do students learn best? Why do so few students (minorities in particular) spend time outdoors? How does this affect their perceptions and future actions/decisions? How can we change this?