Course: ENVS 7 – Ecopsychology
Instructor: Terry Osborne
Assignment: Media project in collaboration with a local community organization
The Ecopsychology class is a first-year seminar that looks at human psychology as a variable in environmental issues. As the course syllabus describes: “Ecopsychology posits a fundamental connection between the human psyche and the more-than-human world, and examines both the role our psyche plays in affecting the health of the planet, and the effect the degradation of natural world has in return on our psyche.”
The final project in the course is a community-based learning experience. It is a group video project in collaboration with a local community organization. The stated goal of the assignment is to do a video project that explores the ecopsychological components and/or effects of the work the organization does. I spend time before the course meeting with the organizations to discuss possible projects that would meet their needs and desires and fulfill the goals of the course. Once we have a general sense of that, I let the students take over and determine the exact projects with the organization. The target length of the video projects was 2-3 minutes, but this could be adjusted based on the organizations’ needs and desires. This year the organizations the students worked with were the Upper Valley Land Trust, The Upper Valley Transportation Management Association, and Thetford Elementary School.
The UVTMA video you see below initially was to explore the obstacles that get in the way of Upper Valley residents carpooling or using public transportation, by interviewing people who overcame those obstacles. But for various, unexpected reasons, the original interviews could not take place (this is why I like community-based projects: it’s real life; you never know what’s going to happen, so you adjust on the fly). So the students and the community partner (Aaron) reconceived the methodology and the interviews, and that aspect of the process—and the first minute of the video, especially—are what I admire most about this group’s project: the way they worked with the community partner and improvised and shifted the project.