"Sense of Place" Theme Runs Through Both Earth Week 2014 and Faculty Publications

The notion of having a "sense of place" is a theme that has been popping up across the St. Edward's campus quite a bit this spring. It is the Earth Week 2014 theme, fully expressed as "Our Place in Space: Sustainability, Stewardship and Community," which speaks to the local and global aspects of environmental stewardship to reinforce how our conceptions of place impact geographic space. The full Earth Week 2014 program can be viewed here.

A "sense of place" has also inspired adjunct faculty for Freshman Studies, Annette Lucksinger to publish “Ecopedagogy: Cultivating Environmental Consciousness through Sense of Place in Literature.” The article appears in the latest issue of Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition, and Culture by Duke University Press. This piece discusses the use of sense of place as a focal point for studying literature to lead students to consider the complexity of the human relation to the physical world, the universal connections between people and landscapes, and the reciprocal impact of these relationships.

The intent is to create fertile ground through the literature, class discussions, journal writing, and personal action for an environmental consciousness to emerge. Too, as students study literary characters’ interactions with places, they become more aware of their own developing relationships with their shared city and their place in, for many college students, their new community. The author presents these ideas from a pedagogical perspective that lays the foundation for such a literature course, including defining the concept “sense of place,” selecting texts, and creating assignments that encourage student involvement in the local community. The ideas covered are not limited to a literature course, however, and might be applied to writing classes and interdisciplinary disciplines. 

Annette Lucksinger also had her book Exploring Austin with Kids published in March 2014. With descriptions of over 100 family outings and 25 annual events, this guidebook makes it easy to experience Austin and to cultivate a sense of place from an early age. Visitors and newcomers will find the top tourist destinations as well as the quirky places that make Austin so unique. It uncovers new finds for locals looking for added adventure, and guides new parents into the city’s vibrant kid culture. Learn more about the book at: www.ExploringAustinwithKids.com