It’s hard to believe that this semester is already coming to a close. On one hand it feels like it just started, but on the other hand I can look back and see how much I have grown as an Environmental Studies student (and now major!). Last semester in ENVS 160, some senior Environmental Studies majors led a class discussion about Shellenberger and Nordhaus’s book, Love Your Monsters. I remember being so impressed by how well they could ask really interesting and important questions, as well as how critically they thought about the issues we were dealing with. They took every side of the argument into account, and supported their answers with literature or personal experience. I remember admiring all these things about them, and wondering how they got to that point. After taking ENVS 220, I am definitely beginning to understand. I already feel as if I’m equipped with enough tools and questioning devices that I would be able to approach any topic through a more critical lens. Just by knowing the different kinds of questions to ask (descriptive, explanatory, evaluative, and instrumental) I think I could get a fuller picture of any situation I might be faced with.
Additionally, the tools that we gained in lab have made me a lot more confident in my abilities to communicate scholarly work in a clear and professional way. I have already been able to use these tools outside of class. This year I’m a community educator with the CELS Program funded by the HHMI grant. My proficiency with WordPress has allowed me to contribute ideas and help my colleagues build their own profiles. It’s a great tool to share with the high school students we work with since it provides a scholarly platform for them to share their work with other students in the CELS program as well as the larger community. The school that I’m working at decided that they are interested in studying homelessness and food security, and want to do some qualitative research by interviewing homeless people at a local food bank. I can already visualize them using a Fulcrum survey on iPad minis, and then presenting their data on the WordPress website.
While conducting an interview for my group’s situated project, Generational Perceptions of Wilderness, I really got the feeling that we could make a difference in the community, and that people respected our ideas and suggestions. We were able to meet with Michael McCloskey, former president of the Sierra Club and the Federation of Western Outdoor Clubs, and he seemed genuinely impressed with our research ideas. Coming from someone with so many impressive credentials, it really made me value all that we’ve learned so far. I can only imagine how much we will know by the time we graduate!