Students in English 175, “Environmental Destruction: An Introduction to the Environmental Humanities” (https://www.meredithfarmer.org/environment175) produced digital essays instead of final papers as a new capstone end-of-semester project. They were asked to work in small groups to recontextualize any recent work of environmental literature or pressing environmental problem, situating it in a longer literary, historical, and cultural context. A number of other departments tackle the question “what now?” But our question in an environmental humanities course was “how, exactly, did we get here?” The inspiration for this assignment was the blog “Backstory,” sponsored by the Virginia Humanities Council, which promises to offer “the history behind today’s headlines.” You can read the assignment here. One group crafted a documentary short entitled Food Systems. The film addresses how fast food chains contribute extensively to the carbon footprint and how the individual can reduce their personal carbon footprint when making restaurant choices. They interviewed the head chef of a local burger shop, Chef Justin at Heff’s, who makes a conscious effort to source their ingredients locally and to use recyclable materials. They compared Burger King and Heff’s with attention to three factors: production, shipping, and packaging.
Join us as Professor Farmer talks about how to shape, scaffold, and execute this sort of project, turning the task of grading 18 papers at the end of the semester into the pleasure of watching digital storytelling projects that incorporate the importance of digital literacy in the 21st century.
Students will discuss their digital project process of creating and revising a script, crafting interview questions, gathering equipment resources, and finally editing. They will also share lessons learned, aha moments, and thoughts on digital storytelling.