April 20, 2009
Source: Piedmont 2003

Odem, Mary E.
History and Women's Studies Departments


Project Summary

I revised a course I have taught for the past two years for the Women’s Studies Department: The Senior Seminar in Women’s Studies (WS495). The seminar is a discussion-based, intensive reading and writing course for WS majors and minors. In the first part of the course students read, discuss, and analyze current scholarship in Women’s Studies. In the second part students design and complete a research project on a subject of their choice. I will teach this course again in Fall 2003 and have included a unit on feminist scholarship on the environment or ecofeminism which is a relatively new and vibrant area of feminist inquiry and one of considerable interest to our students. The Piedmont Project offered me an opportunity to expand my limited knowledge of environmental studies and ecofeminism and to think about ways of integrating them into the Senior Seminar.

During and after the workshop I spent time exploring the literature on women and the environment and chose as the main reading for the unit, Earthcare: Women and the Environment, a collection of essays by Carolyn Merchant who is a leading figure in the field. I am particularly interested in her work because she pays serious attention to history and political economy in writing about women and the environment. In addition to introducing students to literature about the environment, I also want them to learn about and engage with their own natural environment. Participation in the Piedmont Project convinced me of the pedagogical value of having students leave the classroom to observe and experience the natural world around them. The project also provided me with the resources to carry this out. During the unit on Women and the Environment, the class will go outside on two occasions First we will take a 30 minute walk on campus visiting sites 1 & 2 (Baker Woodland & Peavine Creek) on the Emory walking tour, Reconciling the Natural World & Human Choices. Second, we will take a longer 1-1 2 hour walk in Lullwater Forest with a naturalist guide, which I am in the process of arranging with the assistance of the wonderful Eloise Carter. I see the nature walks as a form of experiential learning, one that supports a key tenet of ecofeminism-- developing a greater understanding of one’s relation to and impact on the natural world. Students will also spend time reviewing the website for Emory’s Ad hoc Committee on Environmental Stewardship: www.environment.emory.edu/index.shtml, esp. sections on Ecology at Emory and What you can do.

The written assignment for this unit calls on students to integrate the scholarly reading with their understanding of the natural environment in which they live. Students are to write a 5 page paper in which they apply Carolyn Merchant’s concept of a partnership ethic of earthcare to an environmental issue/conflict on the Emory campus.

I’m looking forward to teaching this unit in the Fall, especially to getting outside with the students!

Course Syllabus attached.

Download: Odem_2003.pdf (135.9 KB)

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