Monday, February 1, 2016

Liberal Vanderbilt professor responds to conservative higher education website that critiqued his teaching so-called ''cli-fi'' classes this semester

Vanderbilt prof responds to convervative higher education website that critiqued him for teaching ''cli-fi'' classes this sprring semester of 2016

by staff writer, with agencies

NASHVILLE -- When a conservative  website THE COLLEGE FIX covering higher education in the USA critiqued a progressive initiative at UC-Irvine as well as a law professor at Vanderbilt University in Nashville (Al Gore's hometown) for teaching classes on cli-fi, the brouhaha went viral and national via twitter tweets and Facebook updates. Climate denialists and climate activists on both sides of the issue chimed in on Twitter, and Professor Edward Rubin wrote a response that The College Fix generously updated and put on its website, underneath the original article by Dave Huber.

Margaret Atwood tweeted the College Fix link and Rubin's letter to the website on her Twitter feed that goes out to 1 million followers.

UPDATE: Vanderbilt’s Ed Rubin responds.

This story has legs.

The COLLEGE FIX attack was headlined ‘'Cli-fi’ and the incorporation of climate change/global warming into college curriculum at Irvine and, Vanderbilt''



It is not mandatory –yet — but the University of California-Irvine is offering faculty up to $1,200 in “incentives” to attend a workshop (and follow-up) on how to incorporate “climate change and/or sustainability concepts into their courses.”

“The overall goal of this curriculum program,” the UCI Sustainability website says, “is to boost climate change/sustainability education at UCI, especially targeting those students for whom climate and sustainability may not be a focus.”


The College Fix received a tip from a source at UC-Irvine which offered suggestions on how to do just that, in this case for an English-related course.
The ideas included making use of “appropriate” vocabulary and readings since, after all, the goal of the program is to make sure all students on campus are reached.

Naturally, the College Fix  was left wondering: Would it be acceptable to utilize vocabulary and readings (and writing assignments) that are skeptical of the conventional climate wisdom? Skeptical of current methods of sustainability?
This comes at a time when the genre of climate fiction, or “cli-fi,” is becoming rather popular in pedagogy, despite it having been around for decades.
Blogger Daniel Bloom reports on a Vanderbilt professor who’s teaching two courses on cli-fi this coming spring semester.
Edward Rubin teaches law and political science at Vandy, and is offering a freshman course titled “Visions of the Future in Cli-Fi,” as well as one for the school’s lifelong learning program called “Climate Change Literature: A New Fictional Genre about a Real Problem.”
The latter has a more detailed description available:
In recent years a new genre of modern novels has emerged — climate change fiction, or “cli-fi.” It now includes dozens, maybe hundreds of books, some in the science fiction mode, others realistic works set in contemporary times, but with a climate change theme. These books are often entertaining in themselves, but also reflect our society’s effort to come to terms with an impending crisis. We’ll approach these books as literature, but we’ll also talk about the underlying issue of climate change, and what the novels say about it.

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