Day 1

Monday, May 21st

“From Environmental Literacy to Environmental Solutions: What, Where and How”

8:30 a.m. – Breakfast (7th Floor Cabot)

9:00 a.m. – Welcome & Introduction to TELI (Colin Orians & Antje Danielson, TELI Coordinators)

10:00 a.m. –  Break

10:15 a.m. – The Urban Environment as a Teaching and Advocacy Lab —  MyRWA and Tufts, at a Watershed Moment (Rusty Russell and Patrick Herron)

11:15 a.m. – Art as Environmental Communication (Amy Schlegel)

Schlegel TELI hand-out to Amy’s presentation; VTS website which has the most information on the method, including video of VTS sessions :

12:00  p.m. – Lunch

1:00 p.m. – Introduction to Digital Storytelling (Colin Orians & Bryan Revis)

2:00 p.m. – Communicating Science and the Environment – From Information to Motivation (Cristine Russell)

1. Cristine Russell’s Presentation

2. Syllabus for HKS course “The Media, Energy and Environment: Global Policy and Politics.” It will be taught again in Spring 2013.

3. Books for Scientists who want to improve science communication

Baron, Nancy. “Escape from the Ivory Tower: A Guide to Making your Science Matter.” Washington, Island Press. 2010

Dean, Cornelia. “Am I Making Myself Clear: A Scientist’s Guide to Talking to the Public.” Harvard University Press, 2009.

Meredith, Dennis. “Explaining Research:  How to Reach Key Audiences to Advance Your Work.” Oxford University Press, 2010.

4. “Climate Literacy:  The Essential Principles of Climate Science.” A Guide for Individuals and Communities. 2nd version. March 2009.

5.,  a visual library of the climate science endeavor.

3:00 p.m.  – Conclude

Homework Assignment:

1. Please look through images and resources provided in the TELI 2012 Research Guide – Digital Design Studio imagesas we will be using these images on Tuesday to create our short videos.

More specifically, read the articles relevant to your topic (Urban Agriculture Article 1 and Article 2 or Brownfields Article 1 and Article 2).  Look at images and begin to image a story.  What will your thesis be? What images best capture your ideas?  What music sets the tone?  How can you merge science, policy and the human dimension?  Think about it in terms of increasing environmental literacy and justice in the urban environment.

More things to consider:

What are the Realities of urban agriculture or brownfield redevelopment?

Are there myths we need to be skeptical about? What are the promises? What are the limitations? Is there a primary function? Think about this in terms of human health and well-being and urban ecology

What are the educational opportunities?

2.  Please also read the article “A Safe Operating Space” and post a comment on how some aspect of that paper might be incorporated into your teaching.



1) Libby, Mareika, Gulfur

2) Nicole, Elena, Aaron, Elena


1) Cory, Ken, Chris

2) Caroline, Magaly, Beth

7 Responses to Day 1

  1. Magaly Koch says:

    The article “A Safe Operating Space“ mentions the difficulty of detecting and quantifying key environmental variables affecting/threatening the current state of the Earth’s system balance. In my teaching I make use of geospatial technology to assess and monitor changes occurring to the environment (e.g. land use changes, depletion of natural resources etc.). I find that the most difficult aspects of assessing environmental change is not so much detecting and determining its rate but determining its nature, whether it is caused by natural or human induced factors or both and in which way. As the article says, the real challenge is to analyze and understand coupled processes and not individual processes. I think this needs to be reflected in any environmental change teaching by using an interdisciplinary approach.

  2. Nicole Soltis says:

    I could design an in-class activity in which students use data to define thresholds for environmental variables; this could also be presented as a modelling assignment. Students could apply worst- and best-case scenarios to examine possible outcomes.

  3. Cory says:

    One way of incorporating “A Safe Operating Space” into teaching first-year writing might be to have the students read the article and discuss it in class as an example of scholarly prose in the sciences. We could address the way in which specifying an audience shapes the form of written communication. The students could then, either individually or in small groups, investigate one of the thresholds of planetary viability and give brief presentations on the possible consequences of crossing that threshold as an exercise in research skills. Another possible tactic would be to have the students rearticulate the information contained in the article from a different perspective or addressing it to a different audience, thus helping them learn how to engage with material in an interdisciplinary way.

  4. Gülfer says:

    What I liked most in this feature article is that it does not require a capacity of environmental literacy. First year students without an environmentally informed background can easily read and understand the article thank to its lack of scientifically charged vocabulary, its clear delineation of the problems, and its structure that prioritizes both the causal relationships between the human activities and crossed/about to be crossed planetary boundaries and also the results of these specific deteriorations. It is a good article to read closely while working on scientific writing in class as Cory proposed. I can also use it as a paired reading during the class time I spend for evaluating sources. I usually print out a couple of “scientific” articles from and ask my students to evaluate how the hypothesis is supported by the data in the article. The exercise usually ends up with students suddenly realizing that the internet is not always a reliable source of scientific information. This article can be a very good follow-up. Finally, it can be quite a discussion starter in any class on consciousness about the world around us. I kept underlining the words and phrases such as “it seems,” “we believe,” “could generate,” and “tentative modelling” which, I am sure would alarm a couple of my students and make them, wrongfully, ignore the hypothesis and the arguments and underestimate how grave a challenge the environment is facing, thus giving a reason to both the pro-environment and anti-article students to be more passionate and engaged in the discussion.

    • Emma says:

      I was also very struck by the frequency of equivocation. We frequently teach our students to make “strong” claims and to stop equivocating in analytical papers, so it would be productive to introduce this paper in a discussion why an author may instead choose not to use such claims and what result this choice has on the reader.

      I also appreciated the graph used with this article (I’d seen it before) and would probably spend some time discussing how it was set up, explained, and whether or not it could be made more effective.

  5. Ken Chui says:

    A few ways to incorporate “A safe operating space for humanity” into quantitative analysis teaching:
    1) Suggest students to verify the source of the statistics and what assumptions were made during the collection and use of the data.
    2) If historic data are available, perform a longitudinal data analysis on the trend of the parameter of a select system.
    3) Scale the amount of pollutants down so that it is more perceivable. For instance, if a beaker of water represents all the water in the ocean, how many drop of pollutants have been poured into it per year.

  6. Beth says:

    The article “A Safe Operating Space” could be used to teach first year students how to read a scholarly article and better understand the research process. For instance one could ask students what is the research question and what types of research did the authors use as evidence in support of their argument? Students could be required to track down one cited source to evaluate in terms of its currency, relevance, authority, accuracy and purpose. In terms of research skills, students could also be asked to do a cited reference search to determine what impact this article has made in the scientific community – who/where else is cited it, what further research has been done, what are the opposing arguments and what types of research do they use to prove their points?

    The article might also be used as a starting point for a research paper or project. Students might be asked to choose one of the earth’s processes as described (i.e. global freshwater use, chemical pollution) in the article to research on their own. They could also be asked to gather information on one of the three branches of scientific inquiry to gain an understanding of how different disciplines and research fields study the same environmental issue or problem. What is the language of that discipline? Who are the experts in this field? What are the key publications for this field?

Comments are closed.