Here are some ways faculty can use No Impact Man in their writing courses.
For more curriculum ideas, visit the Composition Common Read Blackboard website.
Personal Writing Ideas
- At outset of book Beavan traces his growing awareness of how serious climate and other environmental problems are, and periodically, he walks readers through his own education on various issues, demonstrating a growing ecoliteracy—an understanding of the principles of organization of ecological communities and using those to build sustainable human communities. Students might write personal ecoliteracy narratives. what has brought them whatever level of environmental understanding they have?
- At many points in the book, especially Ch. 9, Beavan notes the complacency, indifference, or sense of helplessness people often feel about environmental problems, along with how inured we become to environmentalist appeals. Classes might be prompted to reflect on their own perceptions of environmentalism and its discourse, even the term “environmentalist.” What has shaped those? If there are negative or skeptical perceptions, what could be done by environmental advocates to counter these?
- In Ch. 7, Beavan presents stories of certain objects that have imbued them with meaning, leading him to treat them with some reverence.For one assignment, students might write narratives presenting the history of some possession especially meaningful to them.
- A waste diary—students could record their waste for one week, then possibly write essays outlining a plan for reducing it. That project could potentially be enhanced by research.
- Chapter 6 describes Beavan’s efforts at low-impact eating. Students might investigate low-impact recipes and compile a cookbook aimed at environmentally concerned peers. Those so inclined might try cooking a few and reporting the results in essays, placing these in the context of Beavan’s book.
- Compare web sites or other publications promoting awareness of climate change-which are most appealing and what makes them that way? This could lead to writing proposals for creating/revising a site to reach peers.
- Identify environmental impacts of class work (including the “underlife” of classes that exists in the midst of academic work)—then write proposals for a no-impact composition course, including possibly reflections on how such a scheme would affect learning.
- Investigate locally produced food options, then devise a 250 mile meal plan for Toledo. This is a project that might be updated over the course of a semester—the menu in December would look very different than that of August.
- In conjunction with discussion of water pollution in Ch. 9, invite a speaker from Partners for Clean Streams or Western Lake Erie Waterkeepers to discuss local problems with waterways and wildlife; further research to issues presented, produce informational documents on these.
- Investigate university disposal procedures (perhaps especially of e-waste).