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Composition and Sustainability: Teaching for a Threatened Generation

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Author(s): Derek Owens

Derek Owens argues that, in light of worsening environmental crises and accelerating social injustices, we need to use sustainability as a way to structure courses and curricula, and that composition studies, with its inherent cross-disciplinarity and its unique function in students’ academic lives, can play a key role in giving sustainability a central place in students’ thinking and in the curriculum as a whole.

Level(s): College

ISBN/ISSN: 0-8141-0037-6

Stock No.: 00376

Description

While sustainability—meeting today’s needs without jeopardizing the interests of future generations—has become a dominating force in a range of disciplines, it has yet to play a substantive role in English studies. Derek Owens argues that, in light of worsening environmental crises and accelerating social injustices, we need to use sustainability as a way to structure courses and curricula, and that composition studies, with its inherent cross-disciplinarity and its unique function in students’ academic lives, can play a key role in giving sustainability a central place in students’ thinking and in the curriculum as a whole.

Owens draws on student writing to articulate a pedagogy that gives students opportunities to think and write in three zones of inquiry: place, work, and future. This approach allows for the creation of a variegated course wherein students write neighborhood portraits, critique their work experiences, reflect on their majors, investigate alternative theories of education, compose oral histories, construct narratives about their futures, and design their own assignments—all from the perspective of sustainability. These writings are juxtaposed with observations from writers in architecture, ecological economics, future studies, planning, sociology, sustainable business, and urban studies.

The appendixes include a wealth of environmental statistics, as well as a detailed description of Owens’s composition course, with assignments ready to use or adapt.
Refiguring English Studies series. 224 pp. 2001. College. ISBN 0-8141-0037-6.
No. 00376

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