Course Project:  
Integrating Ecological Principles and the Humanities to Improve Environmental Education

Science 141: Humans Within Ecosystems

(Assignment developed in 1996.
This web page created June 2002.)

Dr. Tina L. Hanlon
Dr. Carolyn. Thomas

Ferrum College


General Guidelines for Projects:

Topic Suggestions for Projects:

  1. Develop a lesson plan for using literature or art to teach an audience (any age group you choose) something about the environment.
  2. Discuss various work(s) by, background on, or essays by a writer or illustrator we are studying, or one not on the scheduled readings for the class. Either report on an author or illustrator who deals directly with the environment, or discuss parallels you see between ways of viewing or studying the environment and ways of reading, writing, or creating or understanding art.
  3. Create an artwork that reflects an idea or feeling about the environment and present it to the class. See sample of student artwork at
  4. Compare book(s) about nature or the environment for children with adult book(s) that have parallel themes. How is the same issue handled differently for children and adults?
  5. Report on some type of music that reflects ideas or feelings about the environment, or develop a lesson plan or musical program to present ideas about the environment to students or an audience.
  6. Write your own original story or poem(s) about the environment.
  7. Write a play or skit or make a video that relates to environmental issues, or work on performing a play or skit or puppet show or some other kind of performance involving an environmental issue.
  8. Report on a specific environmental issue as it has been reported in the mass media, or the way it has been handled (or mishandled or not handled, perhaps) by a state or national government (e.g., news articles on recent weather and global warming), or censorship of environmental books.
  9. Develop or demonstrate an interactive game or experience that could be used to teach a science lesson (e.g., an activity in which participants become the parts of a tree).
  10. Examine a specific literary or artistic technique or theme or pattern used in several books or poems or articles and relevant to studying the environment. Examples: books that use questions and answers, true and false ideas, conflicts or contrasts between adults and children, fantasy vs. reality, dream visions, imaginary experiences as a nonhuman creature or thing, optical illusions, visual puzzles or hidden images, cumulative effects in rhymes and tales, puns or other word play, before-and-after images, alphabet or counting books, patterns of repetition, pop-up books.
  11. Focus on attitudes toward the environment reflected in the traditions of a particular national or regional culture, such as a Native American culture.
  12. Compare the concept of change in ecology and literature, and analyze the “recycling” of motifs by comparing variants of a folk motif or myth as found in different cultures. There are many, many variations on Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, the girl vs. the wolf, the young giant-killer, the dragon slayer, the creation of the earth and people, the Flood, the forbidden door or room, the clever wife or daughter, the toy that becomes “real,” animal trickster tales, etc.
  13. Discuss and/or demonstrate storytelling techniques or other methods of oral interpretation or leading discussions with children, or adults, with a focus on an environmental theme.
  14. Report on a controversy about adaptations of traditional material in a book for children (such as Brother Eagle, Sister Sky by Susan Jeffers), or debates about how much realism children should be exposed to and whether children should be protected from harsh realities about social issues.
  15. Report on how and where children’s books about science are reviewed or guides to selecting children’s books about science.
  16. Report on a film, TV program, audio recording, video, or computer program that relates to the environment. This could involve comparing a work of literature with a film or cartoon version; discussing the pros and cons of using different media to teach about the environment; analyzing the historical accuracy and attitudes conveyed in movie such as Pocahontas, etc.
  17. Report on one or more science magazines for children or adults (such as Ranger Rick or My Big Backyard), or on coverage of environmental issues in more general magazines.
  18. Report on modern retellings or revisions of traditional literature that have some relevance to study of the environment, such as modernized nursery rhymes, new retellings of folk tales, and new types of fairy tales (e.g., Dr. Hanlon has recent adaptations of “The Tortoise and the Hare” and “The Three Little Pigs” in picture books that focus on the environment of the Southwest U. S.)
  19. Report on the use of satire to convey ideas about the environment, in stories or poems or articles for children or adults, or in cartoons or comic strips (such as Far Side) or TV or radio shows.
  20. Investigate methods for developing a museum display and create a display or bulletin board for our campus, with a particular environmental theme.
  21. Report on ecocriticism or ecofeminism, new movements in literary and cultural criticism.
  22. Compare an older work of literature or art with a more recent one that contains a more contemporary view of the environment. What does this comparison reveal about how attitudes have changed (perhaps attitudes in a particular culture or region or among a particular group)?


This page created 6/10/02   |   Top of Page   |   Last update 06/17/02

Science 141 and 143 web pages