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Source: Valerie Carroll, 785-532-7274, carrollv@k-state.edu
Photos available. Contact media@k-state.edu or 785-532-6415.
Video available. Access at http://www.k-state.edu/media/webzine/research/index.html
News release prepared by: Kristin Hodges, 785-532-6415, khodges2@k-state.edu

Thursday, May 14, 2009

K-STATE STUDENTS EXPERIENCE ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISM THROUGH SEMESTER RESEARCH PROJECTS

MANHATTAN -- A group of Kansas State University students spent the semester as environmental activists through applied research projects addressing subjects including overconsumption, meditation and water preservation.

Valerie Carroll, instructor in women's studies at K-State, teaches a women and environmentalism course where students conduct a lived experience class project and blog about the progress of their experience. You can read the blogs at http://www.womst480.blogspot.com

"The projects allow students to connect real-life experiences to academic learning," Carroll said. "They allow students to connect to the larger community locally and globally by recognizing their contribution and impacts on the larger world in terms of environmental and social justice."

The students chose their projects from three categories: living an ecologically aware experience; exploring what one person could do about a particular environmental subject; and conducting self-directed research on an environmental topic. At the end of the course, the students illustrated their work in poster presentations.

The students in the class were Kelsey Longpine, Hays; Zack Pistora, Lawrence; Chrischelle Borhani, Melissa Mathy, Melisa Posey and Carl Thompson, all from Manhattan; William Carman and Rachael Williams, both from Overland Park; and Dayonna Mckinney, Wakefield.

Longpine, freshman in political science and women's studies, examined Wicca as an earth religion for her project "Spiritual connections."

Pistora, senior in political science, did a combination of projects for his goal to be the best environmental activist he could for three months for his project "Growing the environmental revolution." His plan included involvement in campus organizations, participation in events and attendance at conferences that could lead to environmental change.

Borhani, sophomore in modern languages and women's studies, studied consumption practices for her project "Did I really just buy that?" She considered several arguments for consumers, like buying items globally versus locally, organic food versus non-organic and processed food versus raw.

Mathy, junior in human ecology, did a lived experience of recycling and reducing her overall usage of items for her project, "Board at the bars." She developed recycling programs at her home and workplace.

Posey, junior in prelaw and women's studies, did a lived experience of meditation in nature for one month for her project "Where is my mind?" She meditated daily and went to area nature locations weekly to meditate.

Thompson, senior in finance, completed a lived experiment called "Reducing my ecofootprint." During a two-month period, he tracked and reduced his dining out expenses.

Carman, senior in women's studies, did a lived experience that he called "I am the destroyer" where he focused on reducing overconsumption for a month.

Williams, junior in family studies and human services, studied the Ogallala Aquifer in her project, "Will we run out of water?" It examined the social, science and spiritual aspects of the aquifer.

Mckinney, senior in women's studies, experimented with different eating styles for her project "Where's the beef?" For a month, Mckinney tried a different vegetarian or vegan lifestyle each week.

Carroll said women interact with and are associated with environment and nature through a wide range of subjects, actions and interactions.

"These student projects reflect that range and variety," she said. "These projects recognize that the environment is everywhere and humans are part of the environment, both individually and in groups."

Carroll's course examines the philosophical and historical intersections among women, nature and environmental activism through a variety of subject areas including ecofeminism and environmental justice. The projects are part of Lived Experience, an experiential learning assignment she developed to help students connect action and theory, feminism and environmentalism, and the personal and the political.

"Experiential learning gets students learning by doing," Carroll said. "This learning allows students to make connections between what they have learned, their own lives and the lives of others."