Ecoliteracy and a place-based pedagogy: Expanding Latina/o students' critical understanding of the reciprocity between sociocultural systems and ecosystems in the US-Mexico border region




Gutierrez, Kristina A.

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This dissertation proposes a place-based theoretical and methodological framework, informed by concepts of ecology, multimodality, and activity systems. I apply this framework of ecoliteracy as it is defined within the interdisciplinary contexts of rhetoric and composition, linguistics, and Chicana/o studies. Ecoliteracy refers to individuals' abilities to assess semiotic and discursive networks within their communities with the goal of cultivating sustainability. The purpose of this framework is to expand working-class to middle-class Latin students' ecoliteracy in three ways. First, I analyze the semiotic and discursive relations among their social, cultural, and natural environments, particularly the reciprocity between sociocultural systems and ecosystems in the US-Mexico border region. I develop a multimodal approach to ecoliteracy that best encourages a sustainable agenda within students' communities. Second, I illustrate the tenets of ecoliteracy employed in popular media, including murals, to spotlight the reciprocity between social communities and/or natural environments. Then I turn my attention to how students, in collaboration with community youth, employ modes to produce poems to foreground community sustainability. Third, I describe the ways in which the modes of image and word promote an active social justice agenda that cultivates reciprocity between social communities and natural environments.


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activity systems, border region, ecoliteracy, ecology, Latin@ students, multimodality