“Who Owns the Outdoors? Remembering, Reclaiming, and Restoring the Natural World”: a Reflection by Dr. Joyce Hinnefeld

During the Spring 2021 semester LVEHC support made possible an entirely new 100-level interdisciplinary course (IDIS 195), titled Who Owns the Outdoors? Remembering, Reclaiming, and Restoring the Natural World and cross-listed in Africana Studies and Environmental Studies. This course was successful in meeting the planned objectives:

• Gain greater familiarity with and appreciation of a range of works (including essays, poetry, academic research, graphic novels/comics, videos, films, and more) exploring the natural world—particularly the work of BIPOC (Black/Indigenous/People of Color) writers
• Gain experience and confidence in recalling, exploring, and writing about the natural world in one’s own life
• Recognize, and explore, the ways in which systemic racism contributes to people’s experience—or lack of experience—with the natural world
• Gain knowledge of incarcerated people’s experience—or lack of experience–with (a) access to the natural world and (b) access to related educational opportunities
• Research, and contribute to, at least one outdoor- and/or sustainability-focused community organization in the Lehigh Valley
• Produce work (for the archives of the Lehigh Valley Engaged Humanities Consortium, based at Lafayette College, and for Offices of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Moravian and other LVAIC Colleges) that will enhance awareness of opportunities that are available through our partner organizations

Students in the course also benefited from the powerful experience of sharing their research into themes including accessibility; a flourishing community, nation, and world; mental health; and systemic racism and access—particularly in light of their work with chosen community partner organizations or their exchanges with incarcerated women at Muncy State Correctional Institution—at Moravian’s 2021 InFocus Town Hall on April 15.

Support from LVEHC made the following possible:

• Class presentations by the following community partner representatives (via Zoom):

  • Afros in Nature (Melanie Lino) on Tuesday, Feb. 2
  • Coalition for Appropriate Transportation (CAT) (Scott Slingerland) on Thursday, Feb. 11
  • Community Bike Works (LaTarsha Brown) on Tuesday, Feb. 9
  • Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor/Trail (Brian Greene) on Thursday, Feb. 4
  • Lehigh Gap Nature Center/Lehigh Gap Nature Center Color of Nature Initiative (Chad Schwartz and Brian Birchak) on Tuesday, Feb. 16
  • Two class meetings led by visiting artist Scott McClelland (March 16 and 18), to guide the students in planning visual representations of their research and their community partners’ relationships to their chosen InFocus Town Hall themes (using Google Slides)
  • A class presentation by visiting artist Mark Harris, discussing green burial and the establishment of the Green Meadow cemetery in Fountain Hill, PA (April 22), plus a tour of the cemetery on April 23

Please see the course syllabus for a more complete account of the course and student projects below:

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