What Is English Education for? Rethinking Our Work through Climate Change and the Environment

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Following environmental scholar David Orr, we begin with the question: “What is education for?” To answer this, we argue that ELA teacher educators must prepare preservice teachers to make climate change and the environment central parts of their curriculum and instruction. These pressing planetary issues require different stories, experiences, imaginations, literacies, and arguments in order to make a difference within a wider socio-political and economic landscape that is simultaneously unjust and unsustainable. Speakers will present ongoing projects demonstrating how English educators are working interdisciplinarily to address climate change and the environment across the country.

After opening remarks from the chair, Speakers 1 and 2 will discuss two related climate change curriculum development projects: one developed within NCTE and English Education, and the other a joint project with other related teacher education associations for developing curriculum for interdisciplinary teacher education around climate change.

Speakers 3 and 4 will consider work from an ongoing project that examines what happens when preservice teachers across content areas and with different beliefs about anthropogenic climate change evaluate the credibility of diverse websites about climate change, focusing on the affective dimensions of how individuals with opposing beliefs about climate change critically evaluate claims, evidence, and their own reflexivities.

Speaker 5 will present on teaching English outdoors, an ongoing project combining environmental literature and nature writing with outdoor experiences. Students celebrate nature observed in the outdoors, building a love and respect for our environment, critically observing the environments in which we live, and powerfully rethinking notions of “literacy” and "community."

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Presented at the English Language Arts Teacher Educators Annual Conference on July 20, 2019 in Fayetteville, AR