Nature, Environments, & Place in American Thought

Syllabus & Assignments


Wake Forest University First Year Seminar, "Nature, Environments, and Place in American Thought," Spring 2014 [PDF]

Photo Essays

The photo essay assignment [PDF] was designed to allow students to explore themes in environmental thought using primarily visual means. Working in groups, students were tasked with telling a story using carefully selected photographs. Each photo essay includes an introduction that explains the theme, and captions provide some contextual information about each photograph. Taken as a whole, these essays invite the viewer to interpret the images and to reflect on the power of photography to communicate human values toward the environment.

Place Studies

The place study assignment [PDF] was designed to give students the opportunity to synthesize course readings and apply that knowledge to research on a specific place. Each student was to select a place on or near campus with particular meaning to him or her and tell a story explaining how to understand this place, and how it came to have the shape and qualities it has today. Students wrote a paper as an exercise in historical, geographical, intellectual, and environmental interpretation.

Documentary Films

The documentary film assignment [PDF] was created to expose students to the work of local individuals who have made careers putting environmental thought into action. Working in groups, students traveled to sites around the Piedmont to interview farmers and program directors and learn about their work. Each group then used photographs and audio captured from interview to edit together short multimedia presentations featuring these environmental actors as they explain their work and why it matters.

Reflection Essays

The purpose of the reflection essay assignment [PDF] — the final assignment — was to encourage students to reflect on how their personal understanding of nature, environments, and/or place evolved as each student encountered and applied intellectual traditions to their creative and analytical work in the four major course assignments.

Syllabus & Assignments