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As a leader in the field of environmental humanities, Stephanie LeMenager encourages UO students to think about, prepare for, and respond to climate change by cultivating their imaginations.
For example, students in her environmental studies course might script and record one-minute audio stories about a climate-changed future, which are published on an internationally recognized website. Or, they might keep daily inventories of their interactions with products made of plastic.
While these assignments may seem light and playful, LeMenager requires rigor and research.
“They have to tell me the most complete, interesting story that they can, based in what is scientifically understood about climate change, and in the process develop a point of view both local and global,” she says. “I want to instill in my students an ethic of care.”
With degrees from Stanford and Harvard, LeMenager has had a lifelong interest in the power of arts and culture to shape our understanding of the environment. She has been involved in public environmental projects worldwide, from her previous post at the University of California at Santa Barbara to Stockholm, the Niger Delta, Houston, and Canada.
Recently she served as an editor and advisor for a new book, Teaching Climate Change in the Humanities, which grew out of her UO graduate student seminar and was coedited by doctoral students Stephen Siperstein and Shane Hall.
LeMenager says her work is strengthened by the visibility of her endowed professorship. As the Barbara and Carlisle Moore Distinguished Professor of English and American Literature, she helps attract graduate students to work with her and UO colleagues in environmental humanities, extending the school’s reach and influence.
“Endowed faculty positions signal to everyone—students, faculty, alumni, colleagues—that this is a university that seriously values research and mentoring. In the areas of environmental studies and climate change research in particular, the UO’s strengths are immense and well worthy of international recognition.”
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