This course has built in the fundamental environmental frameworks for critical thought that were presented in ENVS 160. ENVS 220 has focused primarily on methods for research, gathering data, and portraying findings successfully. While the general guidelines are explicitly stated, it is ultimately up to each student to decide which direction of focus they want to explore more deeply. I was encouraged to explore to my specific interests and think creatively. I am passionate about the study of anthropology, and was particularly captured by the 2016 Environmental Studies Symposium, Equity and Earth: Intersections of Social Justice and Environment. I incorporated the topics that were introduced and questions I had from the symposium into my labs, concentration, and final project. I will elaborate on these components below.
In the first couple of labs, we familiarized ourselves with Digital Scholarship by constructing our own wordpress websites and organizing them to best convey our academic paths to potential future employers. In lab 3: Descriptive Statistics and UNEP Environmental Data, my partner Kyla Husted and I found data on the UNEP site that we manipulated in Excel and graphed to display the European countries that accepted the most refugees.
In lab 4: Microclimate in RVNA, we had the opportunity to do field work in the wooded area surrounding LC. My partner Jaya Gatchell and I discovered a negative correlation through statistical analysis: the higher the ground cover in a microclimate, the lower the temperature.
In these preliminary labs, I originally struggled to use Excel, but I learned how to graph histograms, mean, and standard deviation. In lab 5: Inferential Statistics, I learned how to merge excel data into SPSS and group data into quintiles. Jaya and I were able to support our hypothesis that higher total health expenditures are strongly correlated to lower infant mortality rates with an p value of 0.001.
In labs 6 and 8: GIS and Environmental Justice, I had the privilege to learn how to use QGIS to portray spatial data. My partner and I chose to address the EJ issue of pollution being concentrated in marginalized communities. We mapped minority populations (Black and Hispanic/Latino) in Portland at block group scale and concentration of toxic air substances. Our maps indicate a positive correlation between the two variables.
In lab 7, we further developed our concentrations and revised our DS sites. In lab 9: Narrative Analysis, Jaya and I rhetorically evaluated Vandana Shiva’s controversial article “Seeds of Truth” to determine the credibility of the piece. In lab 10: Interviews, we constructed a queue of questions to ask other students in the class in order to extrapolate their individual perceptions of milk and broader social constructs surrounding standard cow’s milk and milk substitutes. Cumulatively, the labs in ENVS 220 functioned to acquaint me with an array of methods and help me practice synthesizing my group work visually and digitally. Previous to this course, I had low confidence in my statistics and graphing abilities, but now I can think critically about how to represent data.
The ENVS concentration serves to situate majors in their specified areas of interest. As exemplified in my topic choices for lab exercises, I am drawn towards issues of environmental justice. While my concentration went through several revisions, the final title is Power Relations and Environmental Justice in the Global Economy In my situated examples, I attend to the dumping of e-waste in Ghana, environmental degradation and labor exploitation in China, and climate change responsibility stunting development in South Africa. In order to arrive at its present state, my concentration went through one round of peer review and two rounds of review by the steering committee. Ultimately, I’m proud of what I have produced and excited to delve into my interdisciplinary passion in future courses.
For the final project, my group consisted of Maya Kelp, Kyla Husted, and Jaya Gatchell. We struggled at first to find focus, starting with the broad topic of ‘labor in India’ then narrowing in on ‘agriculture in India’ and finally ending with ‘cotton controversy in India.’ This project presented an amalgamation of the work we’ve done all semester: combining qualitative and quantitative research methods, visually representing our work through graphic displays, and organizing our thoughts and research using the hourglass framework. For my part, I chose to conduct a content analysis of disparate articles concerning Bt cotton and displayed them by making a word cloud.