New American Studies Course Encourages
Student Activism and Civic Engagement
This past fall students in AMST 399 (Sustainability and America) tackled a range of campus sustainability issues, and, in the process, boosted civic engagement and activism on campus. One group garnered support for renewable energy issue by gathering more than 800 PowerVote signatures, hosting several educational events on the environment and the 2008 presidential election, and presenting their research on mountaintop removal coal mining. Another group organized a panel on campus and community recycling issues, student activism, and other sustainability issues, which was followed by a film screening on the garbage industry in the U.S. Other groups worked to increase plastic bag recycling and public transportation use on campus, employing a variety of political tools, public relations strategies, and social networking techniques. Bringing together the fields of biology, art, food studies, and American Studies, the final group presented "Food for Thought: an Interactive Presentation on Organic Foods" that educated audience members about the differences between industrial and sustainable agricultural practices in the U.S. Students also analyzed the politics of the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem, engaged in service learning on a visit to Gong Garden Farm, and explored a range of sustainability issues through public writing assignments, civic/personal engagement journals, and other projects.