Experiential Learning: My Senior Spring Course Load!
We're just past the halfway point for spring term, which means the countdown to graduation is definitely starting to feel more real! For this blog post, I wanted to write about my classes because 1) I'm absolutely loving them and 2) I think they are reflective of some standout strengths of the Dartmouth curriculum.
My first class is called "ENVS 56: Environmental Economics & Governance" with Professor D.G. Webster. I took an introductory sustainability course with Professor Webster during my sophomore fall, so I was excited to have another class with her. The first half of the term was focused on economics, tackling questions surrounding valuation of ecosystem services, appropriate levels of pollution, and various means of measuring sustainability. We learned about these topics through "simulations", which involved both individual and group work and helped us to apply concepts introduced in readings and lectures. We explored the environmental, social, and economic impacts of diamond mining in Botswana, put together a mock travel itineraries, and browsed online stores to collect data on price premiums for 'green' labels. As someone who was initially intimidated by the mathematical dimensions of economics, I was grateful that these simulations helped to make the concepts much more concrete. This class has pushed me out of my comfort zone and broadened my understanding of how to value natural systems and align financial incentives to promote sound environmental management. I look forward to the second half of the course which will focus on various approaches to environmental policy.
My second class is also an Environmental Studies course, and it's taught by Professor Cox with whom I worked in South Africa on the ENVS Foreign Study Program. This class is called "ENVS 80.14: Environment, Media, and Communication" and explores various forms of communication from both a theoretical and practical perspective. We've discussed high-level concepts, such as the constitutive and pragmatic functions of communication and the power of terministic screens. Then, we apply this learning to media we select as a class–from podcasts, to newsclips, to narrative essays. Since there are only eight of us in the class, we are able to have rich discussions and delve deeply into these media. We also apply theoretical concepts to our own media projects, which we've been working on throughout the term. Some students are creating their own podcasts, others are developing a website for data visualization, and others have created informative Instagram pages. I've chosen to design a mobile application, which aims to inspire environmentally-conscious citizens to take small actions each day–and provides the necessary information and tools to feel empowered to do so. I've appreciated the opportunity to use class time to workshop these projects, and how Professor Cox gives us the reins to explore the media we find most interesting and relevant.
My final class, "LATS 37: Migrant Lives and Labor", is the first one I've taken in the Latin American, Latino and Caribbean Studies Department. This course explores migrant labor in the United States, particularly within the dairy industry, and connects us with community partners at farms in the Upper Valley. We've actually been able to have some class meetings in person (following protocol of course)–it was thrilling to finally sit in a classroom after not having been in one since August, 2019! A key focus of this course is painting a 12x24 foot mural at the Dartmouth Organic Farm, which will symbolize the significance of agriculture, migrant labor, and indigeneity in this community. To gather inspiration, we've explored the Orozco Mural Room, taken a Tiny Tour of the Hood Museum, and had a few brainstorming sessions as a class. Beginning on Tuesday, we'll be driving out to the O Farm to start on the mural! Throughout the month of May, we'll spend time painting at the O Farm, use the wood-fired pizza oven for class dinners, and visit the farms of our community partners. Overall, this class has been highly engaging; hearing from guest speakers, teaching ESL classes, and working with classmates to produce a massive work of art has been a wonderful way to culminate my time at Dartmouth.