This past spring, Visiting Associate Professor of Religious Studies Rosemary Carbine taught her course Green Religion at Whittier College but this time she introduced some new digital elements. DigLibArts asked her to share her digital pedagogy experience:
Tell us about the class that you taught and how you worked with DigLibArts. How do you normally teach the class and how did you transform it this semester?
REL 290 Green Religion (to be offered as REL 230 in Spring 2017) studies global religious – especially religious women’s – responses to the climate crisis in different traditions, especially Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. We will examine and compare global ecological theologies in world religious traditions, both Eastern and Western, and in the classes on Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity, we will explore how women in these religious traditions are addressing gender and environmental justice simultaneously. We will attend to socio-economic, political, and social-cultural differences among these global religious women’s environmental movements and practices. We will pay particular attention to the theological anthropologies – or religious understandings of the human person – which inform both distorted relationships between human and nonhuman earthly life (e.g., seeking transcendence from the body and the world) and religious women’s ecological activism to reconfigure these relationships for gender and climate justice.
In sum, this course examines different contemporary world religious cultures of ecological justice, by comparing and contrasting these cultures with attention in some traditions to how women are revisioning and reconstructing traditional religious beliefs and practices (especially but not only about the human person) for social as well as ecological solidarity movements.
The culminating assignment for the class required students to work in groups (3-4 students per group), to read and analyze selections from one major book in the field of religion and ecology rooted in the religious traditions covered in the class, to write an 8-10 page book review, and to present highlights from that book review to the class. Rather than a PowerPoint or Prezi, I “hacked” this assignment and required each group to develop and deliver their presentation using digital storytelling methods. Each group screened and discussed their digital story during the final exam.
How did you come up with the idea(s)? What was your initial plan and did that change as the semester progressed? How was working with DigLibArts?
I attended a DigLibArts Pedagogy Lab on January 25, 2016, which summarized different types of digital projects implemented by other faculty, as well as addressed scaffolding digital projects into course syllabi and creating guidelines/rubrics for evaluating these projects in terms of course content and digital media. This lab enabled me to brainstorm a new medium for the final assignment in this course and to finalize the course schedule before the start of the spring semester in ways that incorporated 3 class sessions set aside for Sonia Chaidez and Kathy Filatreau to provide an introduction to digital storytelling, a workshop on each group’s script for their digital story, and a technology lab session for students to record scripts, upload images and soundtracks, and so on. As the semester neared conclusion, we collectively decided to offer a second technology lab session for students to complete their work.
What did you learn about the process that you’d like to share with other faculty? Words of advice?
Based on my experience with digital storytelling methods, I would advise other faculty to build two technology lab sessions into the course schedule in order to avoid the stress of student’s individualized appointments with DigLibArts staff and student tech liaisons during the end-of-semester crunch.
How did students react to the pedagogical experiments?
Based on evaluations of their experience with digital media in this course, students reported that there is a learning curve with using new technologies but they liked that it offers new forms of presenting research.
Will you do it again? What will you change for next time?
When I next offer the class in Spring 2017, 4 rather than 3 sessions about digital storytelling will be implemented into the course schedule with specified guidelines and tasks for each session, so that students progress in a developmental way toward producing their stories.
Check out a selection of the student-produced Green Religion digital stories here.