ROHNERT PARK – The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded a grant for a unique summer institute to be held at Sonoma State. Called “Human/Nature: An Exploration of Place, Stories, and Climate Futurism,” the institute will explore climate futurism, or imagining alternative futures for life on our planet, through the humanities and interdisciplinary fieldwork experiences.
Up to 25 English teachers (grades 6-12) will be selected from across the country to participate in the institute, which will be held on SSU's campus as well as through field trips to various locations in northern California during the summer of 2023.
“We really wanted to write a grant that had to do with story and place – exploring narratives that are unique to Sonoma County and imagining how climate factors into our future here,” said Dr. Fawn Canady, Assistant Professor of Adolescent and Digital Literacies at Sonoma State’s School of Education. “We want to ask ourselves: where do we find hope? Where do we find agency? Where do we use science and the imagination and position ourselves within that story?”
Canady, along with Dr. Claudia Luke, director of SSU’s Center for Environmental Inquiry, worked on the grant with Dr. Erick Gordon, an English teacher at Credo High School in Rohnert Park and Dr. Troy Hicks of Central Michigan University. The grant award totals $215,000 for the summer institute in 2023 and includes dissemination of teaching and learning materials related to the event.
The institute will guide participants in an in-depth inquiry into climate futurism starting with climate science fiction and young adult literature with nationally-recognized literary scholars, teacher-artists, naturalists, and media literacy scholars.
The curriculum will include “Parable of the Sower,” an acclaimed climate science fiction novel by Octavia E. Butler. The story follows the journal entries of a 15-year girl traveling through dystopian California – including stops in Sonoma County.
“We know that the teachers who join us in the summer of 2023 for our summer institute will find this sustained, immersive professional learning experience as a way to learn and grow – both as scholars of climate change fiction and as English language arts educators,” said Dr. Troy Hicks, co-director of the NEH-funded grant. Dr. Hicks is a professor of English and education at Central Michigan University, where he directs the Chippewa River Writing Project.
Human/Nature will be a 3-week, combined format 2023 NEH summer institute at SSU with both in-person and virtual convenings. Up to 25 English teachers (grades 6-12) from across the country will be selected for the institute. The application process will begin in December.
Follow news.sonoma.edu for updates.