Bringing Interdisciplinary Sources to the Table: Urban College Writers Meet Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac

By Susan Jacobs, DePaul University

As a writing instructor at DePaul University, I find Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac an excellent tool for interdisciplinary learning. Most of our students live and study in Chicago’s gritty/glittering urban setting. We have access to innovative conservation efforts within multiple disciplines. In the midst of Daniel Burnham’s 19th century concrete grid, we have urban farms, environmentally-oriented social media, and multiple green architectural and commercial efforts.

Jacobs1909_Grid

Chicago City Grid

Some scholars would argue that interdisciplinary studies creates thinkers with broad awareness but shallow comprehension. I would argue that interdisciplinarity creates adaptable, innovative members of thinking communities.

I’ve taught the Almanac several times, and I’ve learned that finding primary resources in our urban setting demonstrates that everything is connected. As students learn about their urban biotic community, they open up to Leopold’s key ideas. I take shameless advantage of new sources that pop up—cultural exhibits, social media, organic food trucks, no-waste restaurants, and vertical gardens. Pairing urban resources with Leopold helps me keep up with students’ quickly shifting interests.

JacobsFlorioleRooftop-Herb-Garden.2015

A rooftop herb garden supplies a local bakery.

A typical freshman writing class will have a mix of majors including English, Computer Science, Digital Media, History, Biology, and Commerce. Engaging varied interests requires finding course material that inspires individual thinking within the context of academic discourse.

Continue reading at Building a Land Ethic: A blog for out Thinking Community  here.

 

 

 

 

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