Last April, University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts faculty member Charlotte Melin hosted an event called Language/Environment/Media, funded by an Institute on the Environment mini-grant. The event showcased a variety of student media projects related to sustainability. The amazing part is that the projects were done completely in a foreign language!
Students from a wide variety of disciplines submitted projects to compete for prizes.
Two students, Sarah Johnson and Stephanie Koerner, submitted a video explaining erosion around the world: Bodenerosion und Klimawandel. Another submission was a French video called La Récréation Mondiale.
"The project provided an interesting opportunity for students to think about environmental issues in different ways, to analyze information gathered from a wide range of sources and to present their work in an interesting format," said Melin. The showcase last spring, she added, gave students "the opportunity to explain their projects to others outside of the courses they were taking."
"[The workshop] led to some interesting discussions about the ways in which environmental thinking transcends academic disciplines," Melin said.
Melin received funding to extend the project into 2013, so there will be another showcase this spring. The date is tentatively set for April 8.
"I would hope to increase participation and dialogue across the disciplines," she said. "It is also my hope that the showcase will serve as a forum for thinking creatively about how environmental awareness can be raised."
Melin, who is from Germany, teaches a wide variety of courses in the Department of German, Scandinavian and Dutch. She is currently developing a course taught in English that will examine connections among German literature, culture, and environmental topics.
Sophie Maloney is an environmental studies major at Beloit College in Wisconsin. She is traveling to Ecuador for a study abroad program this semester, and hopes to one day work in environmental education. Photo of a friend photographing a double rainbow by Sophie Maloney.