Teaching Advocacy: Planting the Seeds of Change

January 13th, 2021, 12:00-1:00 PM ET

Students today are inundated with depressing information about environmental problems and the failure of governments to act. How do we teach them to work towards solutions and maintain hope? How do we teach advocacy in academic environments skeptical of political involvement? In this webinar, four professors of environmental studies will discuss how they have managed teaching advocacy in the classroom in higher ed. They will provide examples of advocacy lessons, experiential learning, and incorporating civic engagement into teaching of environmental issues. They will examine the pitfalls of teaching advocacy and how to avoid them. It is possible to teach solutions as well as problems and encourage students to make change even while they are in college.

Neil Leary, Director of the Center for Sustainability Education at Dickinson College since 2008, works with faculty, staff and students to create opportunities across the curriculum and in co-curricular programs for learning about social, economic and environmental sustainability. He teaches courses on climate change, sustainable and resilient communities, and campus sustainability, many of which feature civic engagement and community-based research. He has co-taught interdisciplinary programs that have taken students to UNFCCC conferences in Copenhagen, Durban, Lima and Paris for research on climate change governance and to Nepal for research on climate risks and resilience in rural communities. He has been an author and editorial board member for science assessment reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and was a leader of the IPCC’s 2001 report on climate change impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. As a senior scientist at START from 2001 to 2008, Neil directed international programs that engaged several hundred scientists and graduate students from more than 60 countries in policy-focused climate change vulnerability and adaptation assessments. Prior to working at START, Neil was a senior economist with the climate change division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Neil received a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Washington in 1988 and a BA from Macalester College in 1980.

Dr. Mary Ellen Mallia is the Director of Sustainability at the University at Albany. Her office is in charge of coordinating sustainability activities related to curriculum, operations, research and engagement with the purpose of increasing awareness about environmentally responsible behavior, educating and advocating for sustainable practices on campus and creating a model for the community.   Dr. Mallia received her B.S. in Economics from Siena College, her M.A. in Education from the University at Albany, and her Ph.D. in Ecological Economics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) where her dissertation focused on the effects of companion animals on senior populations. After starting her career in financial management, Dr. Mallia went on to teach economics at the high school and college level for over 15 years. She became director and originated the Office of Sustainability at Albany in January of 2008. Since that time, she has helped develop robust educational and engagement activities to complement the campus’ sustainable operation initiatives and strives to align campus efforts with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.  Currently she serves on the steering committees of the New York Coalition for Sustainability in Higher Education (NYCSHE) and Farm to Institution New York State (FINYS).

Eban Goodstein is an economist, author, and public educator who directs both the Center for Environmental Policy and the MBA in Sustainability at Bard College. In recent years, he has organized national educational initiatives on climate change, which have engaged thousands of schools and universities, civic institutions, faith groups, and community organizations in solutions-driven dialogue. Dr. Goodstein holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Michigan, and a B.A. in Geology from Williams College. Goodstein is the author of three books: Economics and the Environment, (John Wiley and Sons: 2017) now in its eighth edition; Fighting for Love in the Century of Extinction: How Passion and Politics Can Stop Global Warming (University Press of New England: 2007); and The Trade-off Myth: Fact and Fiction about Jobs and the Environment (Island Press: 1999). At Bard he also directs C2C Fellows, a network of undergraduates and recent graduates who aspire to sustainability leadership in business, NGOs and government.

Abigail Abrash Walton, PhD, directs the Environmental Studies MS degree and the Advocacy for Social Justice and Sustainability concentration, at Antioch University New England.  Dr. Abrash Walton’s public engagement, research, and teaching focuses on change leadership and translating values into effective action. Her recent research has explored fossil fuel divestment, as a positively deviant behavior change, and strengthening climate resilience through facilitated communities of practice. She also played a central role in catalyzing ESEP, a national-level working group to build the capacity of scientists and engineers to engage with the public policy process. Previously, she served as program director for the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights and NH Citizens Alliance and as a Visiting Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Human Rights Program. Abi holds a PhD in Leadership and Change from Antioch University, a M.Sc. in Political Theory from the London School of Economics and Political Science, a B.A. in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Permaculture Design Certificate.

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