Theme 6: Stewardship of the natural environment

The course required the students to have a direct engagement with the natural environment by visiting at least one park, green space or nature reserve. A number of student excursions were conducted by myself with the help of an expert guide. During the visit to the site, the students were asked to keep a journal and record their personal observations as well as identify the fauna and flora of the area. These notes were to inform their blog posts about the site visit.

A selection of the students’ blogs can be viewed by clicking on the following links:

Ashlyn Atkinson

Zerista Badenhorst

Teresa Bestbier

Joandre Botha

Elizabeth Forssman

Wesley Human

Tegan Kelly

Mariska le Roux

Kutlwano Mokgojwa

Katlego Musi

Nastassja Nicolet

Keegan Rothman

Samantha Sabatelli

Coral Taylor

Tina van der Breggen

Bianca van Staden

Zhan-Mishal Viviers

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Theme 5: Tree Narratives and Photo elicitation

Joanna Dean (2015:162) states that: “We like to tell stories about city trees. The stories shape our thinking, but more materially they shape our management of the trees. The meanings we find in these stories influence the choices we make when we plant trees in the city, they alter the ways that we trim and control the trees, and, finally, they inform our decisions to fell them”. The week’s theme was based on exploring the tree narratives that the students and their interviewees had. In order to generate feelings and memories in the interviewees’ stories of trees, the interviews were conducted with photo elicitation.

A selection of the students’ blogs can be viewed by clicking on the following links:

Zerista Badenhorst

Amelia Daubermann

Sarah Coppings

Jessica Dewes

Shannon du Plooy

Elizabeth Forssman

Wesley Human

Keina Jooste

Mariska le Roux

Marissa le Roux

Kelly Liebenberg

Caitlyn Lynch

Bonolo Meso

Ingrid Millwood

Kutlwano Mokgojwa

Danielle Oosthuizen

Jessie Palmer

Holly Perrett

Carla Pretorius

Keegan Rothman

Kimberley Spence

Coral Taylor

Natasha Thompson

Tina van der Breggen

Theme 4: Slow violence

The week’s theme was based on Rob Nixon’s (2011) notion of ‘slow violence’. Nixon (2011:3) argues that a major problem in raising awareness of slow violence is representational: “how to devise arresting stories, images, and symbols adequate to the pervasive but elusive violence of delayed effects”. The students were tasked to take up the representational challenge and provide a photo essay in which they could bring into focus the consequences, effects and damages of slow violence.

A selection of the students’ blogs can be viewed by clicking on the following links:

Denel Chetty

Sarah Coppings

Hayley Dawson

Shevon Deetlefs

Jessica Dewes

Shannon du Plooy

Keina Jooste

Mariska le Roux

Marissa le Roux

Caitlyn Lynch

Kutlwano Mokgojwa

Jessie Palmer

Kimberley Anne Spence

Tina van der Breggen

Bianca van Staden

Theme 3: Companion Species

In this theme, the students were required to submit a photo essay based on Donna Haraway’s concept of ‘companion species’. They were tasked to identify four stories / narratives from friends or family members that highlight pet-human relations. The stories were to focus on accounts of kinship, friendship, affinities and emotional connectedness to domestic pets.

A selection of the students’ blogs can be viewed by clicking on the following links:

Zerista Badenhorst

Teresa Bestbier

Megan Booysen

Joandre Botha

Amy Carrington

Denel Chetty

Sarah Coppings

Shevon Deetlefs

Jessica Dewes

Gideon du Plessis

Wesley Human

Tegan Kelly

Anushka Kempken

Mariska le Roux

Robyn McLeod

Kutlwano Mokgojwa

Jana Muller

Renate Myburg

Jessie Palmer

Carla Pretorius

Keegan Rothman

Samantha Sabatelli

Kimberley Anne Spence

Suzanne Van den Heever

Tina van der Breggen

Bianca van Staden

Kara Verster

Theme 2: The soundscapes of the Anthropocene

The aim of Theme 2 of the Digital Environmental Humanities course was twofold: 1) to increase the students’ awareness, understanding and sensitivity to how the Anthropocene is evident in their local environment; 2) for the students to become alert and cognisant of the loss of biodiversity and devastation of ecosystems in the Anthropocene.

To achieve these aims, the students were tasked to keep a sound journal over a period of four days. For the first two days the students were tasked to record the sounds that they were surrounded by. The students were asked to evaluate if the recorded sounds can be regarded as a soundscape of the Anthropocene. During the last two days the students were encouraged to seek and record the sounds of birds. From these records the students were asked to discuss “What is it like to listen to birds in the Anthropocene?” (Whitehouse 2015:53).

The last component of the brief required that the students interview their parents and grandparents in order to provide an account of the animals and bird life that existed in their neighbourhood, city or town when they were growing up. The students were guided to consider how the interviews draw attention to the ways in which humans have altered the environment.

A selection of the students’ blogs can be viewed by clicking on the following links:

Zerista Badenhorst 

Amy Carrington

Denel Chetty

Sarah Coppings

Amelia Daubermann

Jessica Dewes

Shannon du Plooy

Elizabeth Forssman

Wesley Human

Keina Jooste

Kelly Liebenberg

Kutlwano Mokgojwa

Nastassja Nicolet

Kimberley Spence

Anike Stander

Coral Taylor

Natasha Thompson

Tina van der Breggen

Bianca van Staden

Kara Verster

Christine Vos

Theme 1: Environmental Humanities and the media

Background:

The media is instrumental in providing the South African public with an awareness of environmental concerns. However, the increased public awareness does not necessarily lead to public action. In the most part this is attributed to the media casting environmental concerns in a “negative light, focusing primarily on stories of catastrophes and political shortcomings rather than solutions” (Grant & Lawhon 2014:43). Therefore there is a need to analyse and critique the media’s reporting of environmental concerns.

Brief:

The students were tasked to provide an Environmental Humanities analysis and critique of an environmental issue that has recently been reported in the media.

A selection of the students’ blogs can be viewed by clicking on the following links:

Acid mine drainage

Air pollution

Bees

Canned lion hunting

Coal-fired power stations

Coal mining 

Deforestation 

Drought

E-waste

Fracking

Global warming

Hartbeespoort dam pollution

Pollution caused by plastic shopping bags

Mining

Mining pollution

Ocean acidification

Rhino poaching

Sewage pollution 

Waste management