Commoning the Classroom
Teaching Sustainability and "Decolonizing Imaginaries"
This paper provides details for and commentary on two semester-long point-sharing activities I include in my Sustainable Development class, an undergraduate-level course cross-listed in Anthropology and Environmental Studies. In a course that deals with finding solutions to the issue of resource scarcity, both absolute scarcity and distributional inequity, I ask students to think about the possibilities for significant cultural shifts in values and norms rather than only technological fixes and “green consumerism.” Using class points as a resource, these activities challenge students to consider making sacrifices of time for future generations of students and to work together to conserve a communal pool of points. Combined with ethnographic case studies of the diversity of resource management strategies in the world, putting alternative ways of thinking about resource use into practice helps “decolonize our imaginaries,” making neoliberal ideology and its effects on our values and behaviors more visible and open to critical reflection.