Tag Archives: Sustainability

“I Think They Are Irresponsible”: Teaching Sustainability with (Counter)Narratives in the EFL Classroom

“Going Green—Education for Sustainability,” a German-American blended learning project for the EFL and STEM classrooms, asks students to challenge commonly held stereotypes about how both cultures approach sustainable development. Since the pilot project (2014), over 3,000 secondary school students in Germany and the US have enrolled in a shared learning management system (Moodle), worked collaboratively both online and offline, developed green action plans and shared them with the school and wider community as part of a competition.

This article outlines the conceptual perspective of Going Green that includes the aspects of (a) teaching ‘publics,’ (b) countering expectations and misconceptions, (c) raising awareness of counter-narratives, and (d) expanding the knowledge base of the target culture (sustainable policies in the US). These components together facilitate learning objectives beyond interactional and communicative competencies by promoting learner agency and community-based actions. Attitudinal data drawn from the last two project cycles (2016–17, 2017–18) reflect a heterogeneous view of learners’ expectations and understandings regarding sustainable policies in the US and Germany. Finally, we investigate how narratives and counter-narratives of sustainable development on both sides of the Atlantic can be exploited in the technology-enhanced foreign language classroom in order to facilitate the aforementioned goals. 

Continue reading

Marrying Anthropocentrism to Ecocentrism: The Rising Voices of Dissent in American Environmentalism

In light of multiple significant incidents in its contemporary history, the American environmental movement (EM) seems to be at a crossroads as the national consensus on this movement—forged during the 1970s—starts to crack under the strain of rising challenges. Communities most adversely affected by environmental hazards—usually referred to as communities of color and labor—now seem to be estranged from and ignored by a mostly ecocentric movement they can hardly identify with. Against such a backdrop,I examine the emergence of new dissenting ‘anthropocentric’ voices within the American EM—most notably the Environmental Justice Movement (EJM)—and discuss the multiple facets of the anthropocentric-ecocentric divide and its bearing on the evolution of the movement. I will further analyze whether the emerging sustainability discourse will be able to contain this ideological divide and offer a reconciliation framework for a harmonization of these movements’ objectives, policies, and modes of activism.

Continue reading