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CODE RED FOR AMERICAN STUDIES: Embedding the climate crisis in the American Studies curriculum

  • April 22, 2022
  • 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM (EDT)
  • Virtual

Embedding the climate crisis in the American Studies curriculum

A roundtable held in conjunction with the 2022 BAAS (British Association of American Studies) conference

Where is the environment in the American studies curriculum? What about the climate crisis? How can the field of American Studies respond to the ecological and climate emergencies? These questions will become more pressing as new cohorts of students from the so-called “green generation” arrive with their environmental questions and anxieties and as climate disruptions (in the US and elsewhere) intensify. By examining the climate crisis from an interdisciplinary perspective, highlighting the leading role of the US in its onset and development, foregrounding the racial and social injustices it has exacerbated, and identifying the ideological, cultural, and economic roadblocks that have prevented humans from tackling it, American studies can contribute powerfully to the education of the first generation in history who is growing up feeling the full effects of climate change.

Much is happening on the ground, as last year’s Green BAAS roundtable on “Teaching Environmental American Studies in a Time of Crisis” demonstrated. Survey courses are being challenged and updated to reflect the ongoing emergency; new modules, at the crossroads of the humanities and hard sciences, are being created. And, as shown by the genre-defying 2022 American Studies Association’s Call for Papers, the advent of the Anthropocene has well and truly transformed the field. But, far too often, environmental issues are short-changed in the American studies curriculum and in American studies readers and users’ guides, whether in the US, the UK, or elsewhere. The climate crisis, the most pressing challenge facing humanity, may only get mentioned once or twice over the course of a student’s undergraduate education. American studies students, then, end up leaving university with little to no understanding of our carbon-induced nightmare and how to alleviate it (since it is now too late to stop it).

Hence, this year’s Green BAAS roundtable goes one step further by asking: How can we successfully embed the climate crisis (its origins, history, politics, and literary and cultural impact) at every level of the American studies curriculum? How can American Studies educators—whether their research puts them in contact with the environmental humanities or not, and especially if it does not—take on the burden of integrating this dimension into their teaching? What is preventing the American studies community from fully integrating this dimension in the curriculum?

Roundtable panelists will include scholars coming from a range of disciplines, countries, and career-stages who are engaged in this reflection, as well as an American studies student who is involved in the climate movement.

April 22, 2022 at 4-5:30pm BST / 11-12:30pm ET / 8am-9:30am PST

Chair: Dr Elsa Devienne (Northumbria University; co-lead for Green BAAS, the sustainability initiative of the British Association of American Studies)

Participants: Dr Philip Deloria (Harvard University), Dr Rebecca Macklin (Edinburgh University), Ms. Milica Radisic (Université Grenoble Alpes), Dr Christophe Roncato (Université Grenoble Alpes), Dr Debby Rosenthal (John Carroll University/King’s College), Dr Julie Sze (University of California at Davis)

Notes on organizational matters: • The roundtable will be virtual and accessible for free (attendees will only need to pre-register to obtain the weblink and there will be no need to register to the BAAS conference)


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American Society for Environmental History

UIC Department of History - MC 198

601 S. Morgan St.

Chicago, IL  60607-7109