I do not put aside my critical inquiry when I enter the classroom; instead I work through new research questions and the ongoing debates in geography with my students. My pedagogical method inspires students to question urban processes, current crises, and health interventions by examining the relations between political struggle and historical change. Questioning the nuanced interplay between health and environmental geography has become an essential part of my historically informed pedagogy. The distance from bygone disasters, and the corresponding misplaced responses, has allowed me to challenge the politics of today’s impending crises.
Current Courses Taught
Introduction to Cultural Geography
What is culture? How is culture influenced by place and space? How does human activity influence the creation of landscape? This course will introduce students to the debates in geography that attempt to answer these questions. We will explore how people express themselves (speech, narratives, images, music, architecture) and the technologies that enable and disrupt these expressions (film, television, internet, engineering, transportation, economics). We will explore how we construct knowledge about the world, and then compare how other people construct a different knowledge the world. We also will unpack “everyday life” and explore how artists/engineers/architects/designers both produce and express meanings in their cultures.
Urban Cultural Geography
Who is the city for? What makes a city vibrant and what makes a place dull? What are the processes that transition a city as a site of diversity to a place of homogeneity, and even back again? While we will examine the role of artists and artistic expression, we will focus on key cultural dynamics that are central to urban spaces and places, such as race, class, gender, sexuality, and many more. These social and cultural movements have profoundly shaped, and continues to shape, what urban culture means. We will place in conversation the city as a place of difference with the city as a series of infrastructures (transportation, water, greenspace, electricity, internet, etc.). We will ask, does everyone have a right to the city?
Course Participation Website: urbanculturalgeog.tumblr.com
Environment & Society: Scales of Life
What are the differences between environment and society? Where does the environment end and society begin? What scale is the best way to find solutions to environmental problems? How does reframing these categories of environment and society as “life” help us think outside the box? We will utilize the frame of political ecology to answer these questions. We will explore different scales of life: the global, international, national, regional, urban, neighborhood, the home, the body, the microscopic, the genetic, and the relationships between. While constantly acknowledging that the non-human has an active role to play, we will investigate how the transformation of specific environments is deeply related to the politics of class, gender, race, and colonialism. In utilizing theory and practice, along with the abstract and the empirical, we will attempt to come to terms with our current socionatures.
Toxic Geographies - Dartmouth College
Toxic geographies invoke a variety of places, substances, and concepts: Fukushima Daiichi, Superfund sites, PCBs, mercury, EPA, toxic shock syndrome, Bhopal, Love Canal, endocrine disruptors, Chernobyl, multiple chemical sensitivity, and much more. This seminar will unpack toxins and pollutants, and explore how to write about their effects on humans and environments. What is the geography of a toxic event? How do you write about processes that you cannot see, taste, feel, or touch? How do we live with toxins? How do the politics of acute exposure differ compared to chronic exposure? How do we write about processes that are difficult to contain and hard to visualize? This course will examine regimes of perceptibility and imperceptibility. Additionally, students will be introduced to important debates in geography, history, and science studies, including nature-society relations and political ecology of the body. We will explore a variety of texts to understand these geographies, such as, fiction, scientific studies, policy documents, and academic writing. Each student will ‘adopt’ a toxin or pollutant as his or her research topic. A list of toxic options will be given out in the first class. You will research and write about the invention, production, history, and geography of your toxin, including the people and places it affected. Group work will be organized around the types of toxins/pollutants chosen. Each paper will guide future research on your toxin, and all research will build towards your final research paper. The first paper you will write a history of your toxin. For your second paper you will analyze scientific articles and/or debates. Your final paper will be a ‘geography’ of your toxin that links your previous research to a place or a group of people, and incorporating themes discussed over the term. The purpose of this assignment structure is to ground our in-class discussions, but also find ways to open the door to larger questions on climate change, human rights, racism, knowledge, globalization, and justice.
Urbanization and the Environment - Dartmouth College
Over half the world’s population live in urban areas. The 1992 Rio Summit raised awareness of the potentially serious environmental, health, and social implications of continuing urbanization. This course explores the environmental effects of urbanization from an international comparative perspective. How do the environmental consequences of urbanization in the developing world (Global South) differ from those associated with the developed world (Global North)? How are notions of environment socially constructed as “nature,” and how does this translate into political action in different places? The course critically assesses the ability of planners to make lasting improvements in the urban environment. We will answer these questions through the framework of urban political ecology. Urban political ecologists insist that cities must be seen as a foundational geography from which to examine human–nature interactions and transformations. Metabolism and circulation have become key metaphors to understand how nature is an integral part of cities. While the non-human has an active role to play, the transformation of environments is deeply related to the politics of class, gender, race, and colonialism. This course will start our discussion by examining socio-natural moments in the day-to-day life of cities, such as breathing, eating, and living with each other. Over the course we will work through what David Harvey means when he states: “There is nothing unnatural about New York City.”