The Overstory – A cMOOC Un-Introduction

Trees in fog on grassy ridge

I was so excited to stumble upon Equity Unbound, a cMOOC facilitated by Maha Bali, Catherine Cronin, and Mia Zamora this weekend. Inclusion, diversity, paradigm busting, and openness are at the heart of Contemporary Pedagogy (aka “GEDI”), a professional development course for future faculty I teach every semester.  When I saw that Equity Unbound would use an “emergent collaborative curriculum” to help create “equity-focused, open, connected, intercultural learning experiences across classes, countries and contexts,” I knew there could be wonderful synergy between it and the intentional, multi-disiciplinary, and diverse learning community that is #GediVT (our Twitter hashtag).

So, if you’re reading this and have any connection to #GediVT or are following along on the hashtag, please think about joining me. Don’t worry about how much time this will take (I know you don’t have any — I don’t either), or how we’ll coordinate the logistics (loosely, of course!), or any of the other reasons you might not want to do this. Just head on over to the Equity Unbound website and see if there isn’t something that works for you.  One of the great things about cMOOCs is that they are somewhat self-paced, and you can engage as deeply (or intermittently) as you like. Of course regular sustained engagement is best, but really anything you  contribute you won’t regret — because these are wonderfully social, supportive, networked learning opportunities that will give you a ton of serendipitous learning experiences and the chance to get to know wonderful people, even though you might not ever meet them F2F. Also, if we get enough folks interested, we might be able to contribute to the emergent curriculum Maha, Catherine, and Mia have in mind.

I’m going to keep this short because I have class in a couple of hours, but one of the suggested introductory activities is an “Un-Introduction, which gives me the opportunity to share some important information about “Where I am Local” and what makes me tick, that doesn’t appear on my “regular” professional bio or CV. So, here goes:

At the recommendation of a veteran of the resistance to the Mountain Valley Pipeline, I started listening to Richard Power’s “The Overstory” on my run this morning.  An epic re-imagining of how humans relate to the natural world and to the lives of trees in particular, The Overstory begins with the story of the demise of the American Chestnut, the magnificent tree that once dominated the forests of the Eastern United States.  A lone “sentinal” tree on the plains of Iowa, planted in the mid-nineteenth century by the ancestor of Nicholas Hoel, one of the book’s human characters, stands poised to help its species survive. Meanwhile, Nicholas Hoel is leaving his farmland roots in Iowa and heading to art school.

Chestnut Fall
Fallen Chestnut, Montgomery County, VA

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