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The Humanities Conference 2003

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Christian Environmentalism: Integrating Judeo-Christian Principles, Humanities, and Environmental Service Learning into Instruction in Communication

Amanda Borden.


This paper reports results from an ongoing program of interdisciplinary teaching and research at a small Southern Baptist University. The three-year investigation, theoretically grounded in hermeneutic phenomenology, focuses on ways in which a core curriculum communication course affects students’ attitudes toward environmentalism. Freshmen are required to take an integrated course in speaking and writing for which the predominant pedagogy is Problem Based Learning; several sections of the course introduce real-world problems through environmental service learning. Contact with community partners, such as local governments and environmental advocacy groups, allows students to engage the world outside the classroom. Course writing and speaking assignments require analysis of environmental issues, proposals for change, and reflection on community service experiences; such activities have been shown to enhance student learning. Students are assigned a series of readings and asked to write a “position paper” on such issues as environmental justice or biocentric vs. anthropocentric views of nature. Student panels explore the limits to growth as they impact the environment, society, economics, aesthetics, and humanity across the spectrum. Students offer criticisms of films that rhetorically address environmental concerns, and they conclude the term by writing to reflect on how their own behavior exacerbates problems and/or contributes to their solution. Throughout the semester, students read nonfiction by such authors as Wendell Berry, E.O. Wilson, and Francis Schaeffer and literary works by Aldo Leopold, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Joseph Conrad. Classes discuss biblical teachings and their implications for Christian stewardship. Herein lies the crucial nature of the course and the basis for its potential contribution to higher education. While improving their communication skills, students are asked to cross boundaries between and among disciplines and to make connections among their intellectual pursuits, their faith, and their daily actions. Stressing the faith component comes naturally at a university with an explicitly Christian mission, and the humanities component facilitates students’ increased propensity to view environmentalism as a part of their lives and Christian service.

Presenters

Amanda Borden  (United States)
Assistant Professor & Dean of Freshmen
Department of Communication
Samford University

Ph.D., Speech Communication, University of Illinois, 1979
M.A., Rhetoric and Speech Communication, University of Alabama, 1975
A.B., cum laude, University of Alabama, 1974. Major: Speech Pathology. Minors: Psychology/Sociology and Music
Amanda Borden teaches Communication Arts as well as courses in communication theory, research methods, persuasion, and small group communication. She has presented papers at conferences sponsored by the National Communication Association, Southern States Communication Association, the Lilly Fellows, and PBL 2000. She was named 2002 Outstanding Alumna in Communication Studies by the University of Alabama’s College of Communication and Information Sciences.

Keywords
  • Environmentalism Communication
  • Service Learning
  • Christian Stewardship Interdisciplinary Instruction
  • Literature
  • Theology
  • Problem Based Learning



(30 min Conference Paper, English)