Teaching #

Examples #

Data Environmentalism (University of Southampton) #

This second year elective module (that is, it can be taken by any Humanities student) run by James Baker draws on scholarship from digital media studies, environmental history, computer science, science and technology studies, climate science, creative practice, and archival science, to examine the past, present, and future intersections of data and the natural environment. It starts with some simple statements - that data is material, is produced by people, is made possible by resource extraction, needs power to survive, and inhabits and resculpts the landscape - before expanding out into a range of topics (TESCREALism and the ‘Californian Ideology’, the sacking of Timnit Gebru, pollution as a form of colonialism, energy (dis)proportionality) that encourage humanities students use their skills and perspectives to illuminate and challenge the ecological impacts of computational technologies.

The module ran for the first time in 2022/23. The latest reading list is available here. A few reflections from James:

Three things stand out from my experience of teaching Data Environmentalism. First, students - in the main - really cared, really wanted to know more, and enjoyed the challenge of working in a multi-disciplinary space. Second, they loved the week hooked around Crawford and Joler’s “Anatomy of an Amazon Echo”: I printed a huge copy for us to pour over in class, and that proved really generative. Third, it was extra work, but making the assessment activist focused - a ‘public outcome’ and a reflexive essay on producing the public outcome - was a big win, as it enabled the students to express their interests/fear/anger in forms that they felt had the potential to change things - such as a film on greenwashing in the tech sector or a magazine on NTFs.

Resources #

This section could use your input. Are you embedding climate and sustainability themes in your teaching? Please get involved! Meanwhile, here are a handful of links.