Thursday, January 3, 2019

Meet Erica Eller, freelance writer for sustainability with a keen interest in cli-fi novels and movies as educational platforms

WEBPOSTED - January 1, 2019

This blogger recently did an informal interview with Erica Eller about her work on various issues of climate change, and in particular her creation of a cli-fi curriculum for secondary teachers. I first met her in Turkey on Twitter and we communicated from there to email and then to this blog. Read on:

Link to her curriculum website:

"Dear Dan," Erica wrote to me via the email phone in early January. "I want to give you some background before responding to your questions below. I entered a professional teaching program about 6 months ago to earn my teaching certificate for secondary high school lessons in English Language Arts. The blog post that you spotted in October via a Twitter link stemmed from an assignment that I was asked to create, and I chose to focus on Climate Fiction [aka ''cli-fi'']. Therefore, I have not tried this Project Based Learning (PBL) unit in a classroom setting yet. However, I plan to continue to post resources on my blog for other educators to use the ideas as they see fit.'' 

''However, some of the questions you asked weren't the best match for my current situation, as they pre-suppose more experience. On my blog you'll see from the ''About'' section that I'm currently seeking a teaching position and working towards my teaching certificate. My current profession is working as a professional freelance writer for sustainability. I usually work in the realm of content marketing or editing and sometimes I write book reviews. That said, I'm happy to answer the questions.  

1. DAN BLOOM: Your project is aimed at middle school and high school students. Why that age group and not also college freshmen, sophomores?

ERICA ELLER: I am preparing to become a secondary (middle school and high school) level teacher. Therefore, I have designed the curriculum within this PBL for this level. I welcome other educators to use my plan for inspiration as they see fit. It could easily be adapted to other classroom settings and contexts.  

4. What kind of outreach pr have you done for the project so far ?
ERICA ELLER: I have shared my plan with the Climate Fiction Reading Group and on social media, as I like to share my work. 

5. Tell me more.
ERICA ELLER: Project Based Learning (PBL) is a common student-centered approach to enhance student choice and engagement in the class. As an academic with an M.A. in Literature and another M.A. in Creative Writing, I'm naturally drawn to a. the ways that writers and the publishing industry use genre to market their products, and b. emerging genres that stem from the historical moment. Therefore, I thought Climate Fiction was an excellent topic to engage students with, as it provides a uniquely relevant lens for students to learn about emerging genres in publishing, read within the genre, and contribute work that resonates with their own experiences.  

7. Is the there a YouTube video yet of you talking about the program in a TED talk style 20 minutes? Or planning this?
ERICA ELLER: I don't have anything like this, but it would be an interesting project after I get more experience teaching this in a classroom setting. 

8. Are u an optimist or a pessimist when it comes to climate change solutions?
ERICA ELLER: I am an optimistic realist. I would like to see more change implemented on a broad scale within industry, policy and civil society. I'm excited about natural solutions to climate change like forest finance, restoration and conservation, and sustainable farming practices that produce carbon sinks. These issues are also crucial for biodiversity protection which is another environmental issue I hold dear. I'm completely in favor of EO Wilson's half Earth model.     

9. What's your fave climate fiction novel?
ERICA ELLER: ''Parable of the Sower'' by Octavia Butler

10. Fave cli-fi movie or tv series?
"Beasts of the Southern Wild" (released in 2012)


Erica Eller | Sustainability Writer
Website: | Email: | Twitter: @EricaEller

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