Alter(red)native Approaches: Middletown Lives
Assistant Professor of Anthropology Gina Ulysse designed a module with printer/bookmaker Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. in her service-learning course "ANTH 232: Alter(ed)native Approaches: Middletown Lives." Early in the planning of this Feet to the Fire project, Ulysse voiced a necessity to include a social study of the people who live in the immediate vicinity to a nearby landfill. A team of students in her course created an ethnography of those who live in and around the area. They took a contemplative approach to interviewing as influenced by Ann Carlson's techniques, which emphasizes awareness. The students also worked with Kennedy to create a manifesto.
"By the end of the semester, one student said 'I am becoming quite a little environmentalist' and another started to rattle off the various components of a landfill and does so with excitement and self-assurance, or another considers the contradictions in the use plastics, or that 'research is a process of trials and errors' as well as those who now regard 'Middletown is so much more than just the space where Wesleyan is located.' The class participation in Ann Carlson’s movement based techniques brought us to a point of awareness that is immeasurable. The question of being present is central to any effort to address environmental issues pertaining to climate change. To suddenly become aware of how we occupy space and then extend that to include not just physical proximity but space writ large as in the planet is an exercise that simply would not yield the same results had it not included this embodied component."
- Excerpt from Faculty Report by Gina Ulysse