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Sustainability Citizens

At the first level, Pathways to Sustainability Leadership supports the development of courses, course modules, residential practices, and work/study opportunities that inspire students to care about sustainability and to develop the tools necessary for responsible citizenship as they assume capacity for action with respect to sustainability. The opportunities offered at this first citizenship level mirror the foundational stages of Beloit’s Liberal Arts in Practice curriculum, in that they are geared toward inquiry and link sustainability with different modes of understanding and knowing the world.

In courses across a variety of disciplines (e.g., anthropology, art, biology, economics, English, environmental studies, philosophy, political science), students engage in work that is appropriate to the discipline or field and practice responsible citizenship with respect to sustainability. This involves evaluating concepts, problems, or products, as well as developing empirical and creative skills, all explicitly oriented around one or more complex environmental challenges. Emphasis is placed on student work that treats Beloit College and/or the broader Beloit community as a lab in identifying and responding to sustainability challenges. At this first level, the scope of the projects are typically smaller than at subsequent levels, in that their time frame will often be shorter, and they are designed to fit within the context of a particular semester-long class. Students are also encouraged to think broadly about how to reduce human impact on the environment, including through their own lifestyles and habits.


Sustainability Citizen Courses, Academic Year 2016-17

Professors Gabriela Cerghedean & Sylvia Lopez: #BeloitInSpain: Negotiating Identities, Mapping Urbanity & Inspiring Sustainability in Medieval & Modern Spain, SPAN 320/CRIS 268, Summer 2016

The Beloit Blocks, Spanish course includes a module that examines the vital connections that were established between the citizens of al-Andalus and the surrounding natural and urban environment - the “Green Revolution” ideology that promoted the concept of combining the purely aesthetic cultivation of nature with agricultural enterprise in order to achieve a new sustainable awareness that led to economic development and prosperity.  While the readings incorporate material on the construction of city-palaces with its gardens and fountains, hydraulic innovations, water management techniques, agricultural expansion, and architectural design, the visits to these sites in Spain will extend beyond the traditional classroom and provide our students opportunities to develop “the tools necessary for responsible citizenship as they assume capacity for action with respect to sustainability” (Pathways to Sustainability,  Mission Statement).


Professor Rachel Ellett:  Women and Politics in Africa, POLS 250, Spring 2017

This course examines a number of case studies of women environmental activists in sub-Saharan Africa from Maathai’s Green Belt Movement, to efforts to fight land grabbing, to the Nigerian women resisting big oil companies pollution of the Niger Delta region, to Mphatheleni Makaulule's mobilization of traditional women leaders to protect a series of sacred sites in South Africa. The course will engage with the writing of major eco-feminist thinkers, who argue that patriarchal systems of oppression in the natural world and of women are inextricably intertwined and must be examined together. While the focus of this course is women in Africa, it more broadly equips students to understand the intersecting links between politics and policy, on the one hand, and environmental sustainability and gender equality on the other.  Students will develop policy proposals related to women, gender equality and environmental sustainability.


Professor Tamara Ketabgian: Green Romanticism: Nature and Otherness in Late 18th and Early 19th-Century British Literature and Culture, English 254/ENVS 280, Spring 2017

In “Green Romanticism,” students will explore the development of environmental discourse in Romantic-era (late-18th and 19th century) poetry, prose, visual art, and scientific writing. What, we will ask, did the Romantics mean by “nature,” and how has their worldview influenced modern environmental and ecological thinking today? Through the study of creative period works along with current ecocritical theory, our class will examine how ideas of landscape were deeply enmeshed within a culture of slavery, colonialism, revolutionary politics, and industrial (carbon-based) modernity. Students will participate in visits to the “wilderness,” the Beloit Powerhouse, and the Chicago Art Institute. The course will culminate in a student-curated exhibit and gallery talk at the Wright Museum of Art.


Professor Megan Muthupandiyan: This Land is Your Land: (Re)imagining The National Park System in the 21st Century, WRIT 100, Spring 2017

For the past century the U.S. National Park System has tenuously negotiated its existence at the breakwaters of political, ecological, and economic ideals.  In this course students will encounter and analyze the National Park System in order to map the evolution of wilderness as an idea and an industry.  Primary objects of study will include maps, texts, images, and the parks themselves. Students in the course will be expected to visit one of Wisconsin's National Parks in order to conduct primary research.  Major assignments include developing a podcast on a contemporary theme or issue faced by one or more National Park.


Professor Pablo Toral: Global Political Ecology, POLS 255, Fall 2016.

Students will read about different ecologies, ecocentric and anthropocentric, as well as the actors, issues, and mechanisms of environmental policy-making and environmental law-making at different levels, from the local to the global. We will review the role of Congress, the judiciary, and civil society groups. The course pays special attention to energy policies across the world and the politics of climate change from a global perspective. The assignments in this course are practical and include an activism project conducted on campus, an internship and simulation of a United Nations-sponsored climate summit.


Read previous Sustainability Citizen course descriptions