Skip to main content

Transcript: Pub[Pub] Crawl Talk, 25 October 2022

Published onOct 25, 2022
Transcript: Pub[Pub] Crawl Talk, 25 October 2022

Hi everyone, I’m Kyle Denlinger. I’m the Digital Pedagogy and Open Education Librarian at Wake Forest University’s Z. Smith Reynolds Library in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I’m here to share with you a bit about Decarbonizing Character, an exciting student publishing collaboration that I supported last spring. 

Decarbonizing Character is a collection of essays by undergraduate students in ENV 302, “Climate, Carbon, and Character,” taught by Dr. Ryan Juskus, formerly at Wake Forest University and now at Princeton, who unfortunately couldn’t be here today. Through a course development grant from the Program for Leadership and Character at Wake Forest University, Dr. Juskus developed ENV 302 to engage students at the intersection of climate and moral virtue. Quoting the introduction here, students explored questions such as “To what extent has our use of fossil fuels for heat, energy, and raw material shaped contemporary conceptions of good human character and community? Have contemporary pursuits of moral virtue and human flourishing contributed to climate change? If so, what transition in thought, culture, and everyday practice might need to accompany an energy transition away from fossil fuels?”

In exploring these questions, students ultimately selected one moral virtue to explore in depth for their final essays. While Ryan had designed the final writing project to be a book, that structure was mostly a pedagogical framing to center students’ efforts throughout the semester. At least initially, the essays were never intended to be published. 

However, after seeing the fruits of their hard work, Ryan’s students eventually asked him if they could actually publish their essays as a book. Ryan reached out to me shortly before the end of the spring semester, and I was excited to get involved. I threw together a quick PubPub workshop that walked students through the basics of the editor, finding royalty-free media, students’ privacy rights under FERPA, and their selection of a Creative Commons license. In the course of 75 minutes, students were able to see their essays come to life on the platform, and upon submission, their essays underwent a peer-review-like process that would require them to revise their writing and make it appropriate to a public audience. That was part of Ryan’s teaching goal to improve students' writing and communication skills.

With Ryan moving to another institution, we’re not quite sure what the future holds for this project, but we hope for it to continue in some form. Part of my own focus is on facilitating open pedagogy projects at Wake Forest, where students are producing work that is intended for use and reuse by future students, essentially closing the loop between course materials, motivation, student work, and assessment. I can’t speak for Ryan, but part of my own vision for Decarbonizing Character and projects like it is that they will become living, enduring works that transcend the time and space boundaries of a traditional classroom. Students’ essays, being published and publicly visible, can be read, critiqued, annotated, discussed by future students at Wake Forest and elsewhere, and the open licenses make derivates, reproductions, and adaptations possible in a variety of contexts. What’s more, PubPub’s flexibility leaves open the possibility of future contributions from students anywhere in the world. With the promise of such a built-in audience and the potential for future contributions and reuse, the idea is that students will be motivated to produce high-quality work, allowing instructors to think differently about traditional grading and assessment.

No comments here
Why not start the discussion?