Teaching and Outreach
If we are going to address climate change, biodiversity loss, and other sustainability crises, the next generation of professionals must be prepared to transform our society. First, we have to equip them with the skills and knowledge to do that. This section discusses my work in hands-on sustainability education -- if you're interested in my research work on best practices and competencies in education, see this page.
ENV 207 - Introduction to Sustainability and Society
For three years, I've been the teaching assistant for Dr. Josh Newell's Introduction to Society and Sustainability course. It has never been more important for students across a wide variety of disciplines to understand the intersection of sustainability and social forces -- most of the solutions to today's sustainability challenges have been invented, but they sit on the sidelines as environmental crises worsen. What we need now is a new generation of professionals capable of understanding the complex power dynamics within which they'll have to change the world for the better. To keep students engaged in these challenging and emotionally difficult topics, we have remodeled and refreshed the course over the last three years, employing new teaching tools like podcasts.
In the last three years, we have taught the course completely online, completely in-person, and hybrid. Each format has given me different opportunities to employ teaching strategies and technology which maximize student outcomes, such as interactive lecturing through polls and course Slack channels to improve communication.
Questions about the course or about about my work educating sustainability-literate early professionals? Reach out!
Across the academy, the structures and effects of colonialism are deeply ingrained. Sustainability and environmental conservation have a deeply colonial history, from the displacement or extermination of native groups for US National Parks to the neocolonial structures of carbon sequestration and forest preservation. In summer 2021, I worked with a program sponsored by SEAS to begin "decolonizing" the ENV 207 course. As part of this, we reconsidered the syllabus, integrated a number of readings by Indigenous thought leaders, and added a week focused on Decolonizing Sustainability to the course syllabus.
Curious about sustainability and colonialism? Check out these resources or reach out to talk about my lecture slides and syllabus content:
van Bavel, B., Ford, L. B., Harper, S. L., Ford, J., Elsey, H., Lwasa, S., & King, R. (2020). Contributions of scale: What we stand to gain from Indigenous and local inclusion in climate and health monitoring and surveillance systems. Environmental Research Letters, 15(8), 083008. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/ab875e
WHYTE, K. P. (2016). Is it colonial déjà vu? Indigenous peoples and climate injustice. In Humanities for the Environment. Routledge.
Whyte, K. P., & Cuomo, C. (2016). Ethics of Caring in Environmental Ethics. In S. M. Gardiner & A. Thompson (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Environmental Ethics (Vol. 1). Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199941339.013.22
Skype a Scientist
Each semester, I join elementary and middle school students around the country to talk about science, engineering, and the environment. To date, I have presented:
What is a scientist and what do they do? How do I become one?
What is an engineer and what do they do? How do I become one?
How does drinking water get to my house? Where does a toilet flush go?
What is "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle"? How does recycling work?
If you have questions about these presentations or would like me to join your class, please reach out!
If you're interested in the program that makes this happen, visit them at https://www.skypeascientist.com/