Climate Justice, Climate Action
The academic theme is a continuation and extension of the 2021-22 theme, "Climate Reckonings, Climate Justice." By continuing to use Climate as an organizing concept, we expect faculty who integrated climate into their classes can reuse those resources and lessons learned in courses this coming academic year. We also hope that other faculty who discovered connections with the theme can now use this opportunity to associate some portion of their courses to the revised theme.
By highlighting "Action", we are explicitly inviting the Whitman community to focus on ways in which we can make an impact on climate issues internally and locally. A major focus this year will be a speaker series organized by student leaders that will forefront local and national change-makers on the issue of climate. In addition, we seek to partner with local leaders and institutions , to engage the community in meaningful conversations on issues impacting our region. Our aim is to not only acquire a broader understanding of issues, but to offer opportunities for the Whitman community to take part in solutions.
Exploring Climate Justice in Whitman Classes
Indigenous Feminisms in the Americas, with Andrea Sempértegui
Since the rise of the “third wave,” feminists have sought to problematize the centrality of the “White Western Woman” in classical feminism. Among these approaches are alternative feminisms developed from the unique experiences and struggles of Indigenous women in the Americas. These Indigenous activists and scholars have challenged the exclusion of their histories and voices within hegemonic feminist traditions. This course explores the work of pioneer figures from Domitila Barrios de Chungara (Bolivia) and Rigoberta Menchú (Guatemala) to the Zapatista women (Mexico). As we read texts by and about Indigenous women, we will explore the relationship between Indigenous feminisms and other feminist traditions; the unique concepts of indigeneity, gender, and class in these movements; and the reasons that Indigenous feminists connect women’s struggles to the broader resistance struggles of Indigenous communities.
Solving Wicked Problems, with Sharon Alker
Solving Wicked Problems: Technology, Literature, and the Brain
Wicked problems proliferate everywhere, from climate change to public policy, education, health, discrimination and political polarization; wicked problems are complex, contradictory and dynamic and do not fit tidy disciplinary categories. Technology is often seen as a key source of solutions, but, as we have seen over the last decade, it often brings with it biases, problematic algorithms, and ethical dilemmas. This course posits culture, and literature in particular, as a way to productively study and assess wicked problems and potential technological solutions. Since Mary Shelley penned Frankenstein and The Last Man in the early nineteenth century, literature has invited its readers to think deeply about new technologies, its possibilities and its dangers, enabling readers to model possible scenarios and evaluate risk, to place technology within the context of the human condition. This course will begin with Bram Stoker’s Dracula and its response to technology of the Victorian era and will then move to a plethora of recent literary works that engage with postmodern technology. This course has no prerequisites and invites students interested in all disciplines to participate. Readings will include literary works by such authors as: Charles Dickens, Ian McEwan, Susanna Clark, Patricia Lockwood, and Nnedi Okorafor. During discussions of these texts we will consider a variety of theories about how reading literature increases the imaginative capacity of the brain, and about the relationship between technology, culture, and ethics including concepts from such books as: Sheila Jasanoff's Ethics of Invention, Adam Greenfield's Radical Technologies: the Design of Everyday Life, Safiya Umoja Noble's Algorithms of Oppression, Paul B. Armstrong's How Literature Plays with the Brain, and Shoshana Zuboff's Surveillance Capitalism.
Sep 6: Camila Thorndike, “The Fight for U.S. Climate Policy”
Camila Thorndike has organized across eight states and D.C. for climate action and progressive change. As a legislative assistant to Senator Bernie Sanders, she worked on key elements of the Inflation Reduction Act, the largest climate investment in U.S. history. Camila co-founded Our Climate, a national youth advocacy nonprofit, and led the campaign to pass 100% renewable electricity in the District of Columbia. At Whitman she was a student activist, ‘08 Westie, and Environmental Humanities major. After graduation, Camila served in the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution; led outreach for a regional land use planning process in Arizona; and spearheaded public engagement for a musical about fossil fuels. In 2020 she received a master’s degree as an environmental fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School.
Sep. 17: Floods in Pakistan Awareness Campaign
by South Asian Student Association (SASA)
Pakistan has declared a national emergency: a third of the country is drowning. More than 30 million people have been displaced, and the resulting floods have hit more than 1.5 million homes. As of September 7, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) reported that the floods have resulted in 1,355 deaths (including 481 children and 273 women). More than 1.5 million houses have been partially or entirely damaged, around 800 schools (600 in Balochistan alone) were destroyed, and 246 bridges and 6,579 km of road sections have been affected.
We held an awareness session Saturday Sep. 17, 4–5 p.m. in the Reid basement. We also set up an awareness and donation table at Cleveland during lunch time. For more information about donating, please email Kainat Ansari.