Burgin Utaski

Burgin Utaski

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Course Summary

ENVS 295, titled “Environmental Engagement” is a core class of the Environmental Studies major at Lewis and Clark College. The class is centered around engaging across difference in an effort to bridge the gap between contradictory views and ultimately create meaningful conversations that lead to action. Within the field of environmentalism, this is increasingly important as issues become increasingly politicized and therefore further polarized. In the class, we have studied different series of thought surrounding effective communication through the lens of the “what,” “who,” and “how” of environmental engagement. We further applied this knowledge to assessing Oregon organizations via the Reconisaance trip and through a collaboration project with a Portland partner organization. The final outcomes of the semester was a series of posts on the shared ENVS website. These consisted of 1) an engagement partnership overview and 2) a finalized project record of a proposed project between future ENVS students and our individual partner organizations.

Engagement Partnership

One important part of ENVS 295 is an environmental engagement partnership with a Portland-area organization. The page linked above offers information and resources I helped compile for my organizational partner this semester.

Engagement Project

Building on the engagement partnership above, our team developed a related engagement project in collaboration with the partner. The page linked above offers details on our engagement project.

My Course Posts

I've done a series of posts throughout the semester related to readings, our partnership, our project, and my thoughts on environmental engagement. See below for all posts I've published, in reverse order by date.

The Product of Conversation

April 21, 2020

Throughout ENVS 295, we have been looking at effective environmental engagement as a means to carrying out meaningful action. Amidst the establishment of partnerships with various organizations, student groups have each proposed a potential project that would fulfill this goal of successful action. In the case of our proposed project/action, […]

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Assessing Meaningful Conversations

April 20, 2020

Since the beginning of our communications with Crossing Party Lines, our partner organization assessment of success/goals has something that has interested us, even in regards to CPL’s own success. This was something which we discussed at length with our contact at CPL co-founder Lisa Swallow, who had an interesting take […]

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Stakeholder Identification over Divided Lines

April 14, 2020

Throughout ENVS 295 there has been the reoccurring staple of the what, who, and how as the three pillars of environmental engagement. As we have gone into depth on each of these topics through readings and in-class discussion, we have also applied them to each of our partner organizations. We […]

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“How” to Make It Work

April 13, 2020

The organization Crossing Party Lines is a conversation oriented organization that targets the political divide in the United States between Republicans, Democrats, and anything in between through discussions about politically relevant topics. One of the books on the CPL moderator training resource list writes “The hard truth is, too often […]

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Environment and Conversation: Merging Polarized Differences

April 6, 2020

Introduction Imperative to environmental engagement is a willingness to converse with people who hold differing views to one’s own in order to establish a common ground on which action can be built upon. This approach to engagement what Crossing Party Lines (CPL) is built around. Starting in 2016, CPL has […]

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Engagement Across Sameness?

March 23, 2020

The following portfolio recounts the main elements of ENVS 295 (“Environmental Engagement”) and offers insight into the importance of using conversation as a means to effective action.  Reconnaissance Trip We began the semester by preparing for the reconnaissance trip, an overnight trip across Northwest Oregon centered around meeting induviduals involved […]

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How to Introduce the People to the Problem

March 11, 2020

“How” The last two weeks of ENVS 295 has consisted of discussions around the “what” and the “who” of environmental engagement. While identifying the “what” (the environmental issue) and the “who” (the participants or stakeholders) is significant, means of connection between the two are dependant on the “how.” Effective engagement […]

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Who’s Invited to the Party?

March 5, 2020

The Self & Stakeholder Identification We began week seven by starting to peel back the layers of our own identities and biases that impact how we approach environmental action and engagement. This can be an important step to understanding how to communicate across differences with stakeholders in engagement projects. The […]

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What Do You Mean? Post-Truth in Conversation

March 2, 2020

Post-Truth in the NY Times We are seeing now more than ever that we are living in a world where many truths and lies perforate popular media and news sources. In the NY Times article, “Trump Is Waiting and He Is Ready” Thomas Edsall discusses the “polarization of reality” in […]

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