I’m a political ecologist, with training in fields as diverse as geography and comparative literature. As an interdisciplinary scholar with diverse interests and training, I understand political ecology not as a method or approach per se, but as a toolbox for understanding how power works in the world. In that toolbox are concepts and approaches that I draw from feminist and decolonial studies, that ask students to situate themselves with respect to what they are looking at. So they are learning not only how to look, but also to frame what they see in a concrete, embodied way. My teaching helps students to see how power shapes the environments around us, and how it is visible in their lives and enmeshed with their own ways of being in and understanding the world. I have designed and taught courses in environmental studies, science and technology studies, and environmental justice. Broadly, I think and teach in an interdisciplinary way about race, space, and processes of environmental and social change.
Both my fieldwork in Haiti and my teaching on environmental justice have been formative for my pedagogy. As a teacher, I aim to facilitate students’ reflection on the places where they are and that are important to them. To do so requires space for vulnerability and a commitment to accountability in the classroom. I draw from the Haitian principle of onè-respè to cultivate this space. In rural Haiti, one calls out onè (honor) before entering a gate, and waits for the response, respè (respect), before doing so. This framework of mutual accountability and respect is central to my teaching. I put it into practice through a focus on experiential and embodied engagement, transparency in communication and course management, and opportunities for students to be active participants in co-creating learning communities.
As a geographer and a political ecologist, I want students to understand nature-society relations across scales, from the planetary to the classroom. So I have sought to connect what I have learned over many years of working in Haiti to broader geographies of the Afro-Americas. It’s from that framework that I teach environmental justice, as a means for students to grasp the extractive legacies that have shaped our world, and to understand how they are situated with respect to that deep history of racial capitalism. From that foundation, I want them to understand how different struggles for justice overlap and intersect. This gives them the opportunity to think through how race, place, and environment are connected, how frontline communities effect change, and how they themselves might imagine and create worlds otherwise.