Environment Initiative awards funds to 5 teaching projects

The UO’s Environment Initiative has awarded seed funding to five new teaching projects to support faculty members who have proposed innovative courses and dynamic classroom experiences.

The Seed Funding Program was established last year to support both research and curricular projects and to focus the intellectual energy and work of faculty, students and community partners on a just and livable future through transdisciplinary research, teaching and experiential learning.

The following projects each received awards worth up to $25,000:

Ashley Cordes, assistant professor of indigenous studies, English and environmental studies, and Jason Younker, associate professor of anthropology, both members of the Coquille Indian Tribe, will design two courses, Indigeneity, Place, and Cyberspace, and Indigenous Methods for Environmental Storytelling. The courses explore how the internet expands the parameters of what place means and how storytelling is an essential component in not only imagining, but constructing, livable worlds.

Carolyn Fish, assistant professor of geography, and Alex Segrè Cohen, assistant professor of science and risk communication, will develop a course called Science Communication and Mapping for Climate Justice. Maps are key to climate change communication, and the course will advance students’ understanding of the cognitive, social and critical implications of map design for climate justice.

Michelle Jacob, professor of education studies, and Regan Anderson, language instructor in the Linguistics and Northwest Indian Language Institute, will develop beginner-friendly and publicly accessible Ichishkíin curricular modules that are responsive to community priorities and will help strengthen Indigenous language learning communities. Ichishkíin is a dialect currently spoken on the Yakama Nation, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation, and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

Mary Polities, assistant professor of architecture; Paul Dalton, associate professor of bioengineering; and Ignacio Lopez Buson, assistant professor of landscape architecture, will work together to offer an interdisciplinary course that will investigate how digital fabrication can be optimized for living systems to produce resilient design. The intersection of digital fabrication and plants is a rapidly growing area of research, providing new ways to address carbon emissions, sustainability, health and wellness in the indoor environment.

David Sutherland, associate professor of earth sciences and environmental studies, and Maya Watts, an administrator and instructor at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology in Charleston, will develop a quarter-long program called People and the Coast: An Introduction to Coastal and Marine Environmental Studies. Worldwide, 1 billion people live at coastal elevations, putting them at the front lines of coastal environmental issues, including sea level rise, tsunamis, landslides, subsidence, pollution, overfishing, acidification, hypoxia, habitat degradation and more. The new course re-imagines the UO’s marine lab on the coast and develops a plan for the People and the Coast quarter, which will bridge the gap between the Eugene and Charleston campuses and attract undergraduates from across the UO’s colleges and schools.

“As climate change directly impacts students’ lives, student priorities and workforce demands are changing, said Erin Moore, director of academic programs.  These projects all aim to provide students with the needed skills and knowledge to address these pressing issues through innovative curriculum,”