Becoming the Change

Full Course Title: 
Transitioning Together: Becoming the Change
Course Number: 
Section Number(s) and Day/Times Taught: 
Section 157: MW 2:00-3:15 pm
Section Number(s) and Day/Times Taught: 
Section 184: MW 3:30-4:45 pm
Fall 2018
The Arts
Civic Engagement

Human beings, in our local communities and around the world, are living in and into times of great precarity, uncertainty, and even upheaval. We face (or more worryingly, don’t face) multiple, entangled crises, among them climate destabilization, pollution, resource depletion, mass extinction, unprecedented inequality and economic instability and vulnerability, war, human migration (climate and war refugees), and political polarization. All around the world, humans are engaging these “wicked problems” head on, and are imagining and fashioning multifaceted solutions––crucial alternatives to business as usual. One such project is known as the “Transition Movement,” or alternatively, “Transition Towns” or “Transition Initiatives.”
With seeds for the Transition movement initially conceived by students in Kinsale, Ireland in 2004, “Transition Towns” or “Transition Initiatives” refer to communities across the globe, whose members are imagining, designing, and implementing projects that address our biggest problems. Aims of the Transition Movement include increasing community resilience and localized-sufficiency in areas, for example, such as energy, health, education, housing, economy, conservation, and food and agriculture. Transition Initiatives seek to nurture a caring cultural commons, attentive to the interconnectedness of “self,” others, and nature, and to reclaim the economy by encouraging reskilling and entrepreneurial adventure, reimagining education and work, and weaving strong webs of connection and support.
By way of narrative and film, we will begin our course with a survey of some pressing local-to-global eco-cultural challenges. Transition Together will then pivot toward a shared, interdisciplinary inquiry into solutionary experiments and projects (especially the Transitions Movement), which aim to create, nurture, and sustain ecologically attuned communities of resilience, regeneration, and solidarity. Using community-based research at Appalachian State University and in the Boone/Watauga community, we will consider opportunities and strategies for a recently launched Transition campaign in our locale. Students will engage with a variety of library research tools; practice conducting basic surveys and interviewing faculty, students, and community members. Research will lead to the creation of a final presentation, which will exercise creativity, critical thinking, and communication through writing, speaking, and  artistic expression in a public forum.


Reed, Susan

Susan F. Reed grew up Boone, where her family moved when she was seven-years old. She is contingently employed at ASU, where, as needed, she teaches in the Departments of Sustainable Development and Leadership and Educational Studies. The research focus for her doctorate in educational leadership culminated in In/Appropriate Education in a Time of Mass Extinction: Composing a Methodological Imbroglio of Love and Grief. Her essay, “Something Else is More Important than Fear: Becoming-In/Appropriate Educational Leaders on the Verge in a Time of Mass Extinction and Climate Catastrophe,” was published in Apocalyptic Leadership in Education: Facing an Unsustainable World from Where We Stand (2017), edited by Vachel W. Miller. She was Consulting Editor of Cold Mountain Review for the Fall 2017 Special Issue on Extinction; and is a board member of Climate Voices U.S., which is in the process of activating Transition in her community.

Peace and social justice, and environmental and economic justice movements have shaped her worldview, and work and lifestyle choices. The Arts have both informed her understanding of the world, and served as an important avenue for expressing her work in the world.

Contact FYS

The First Year Seminar is part of the General Education Program located in Anne Belk Hall, Room 250.

Phone: 828-262-2028

Our mailing address:
First Year Seminar
ASU Box 32065
Appalachian State University
Boone, NC 28608

Director of First Year Seminar:
Dr. Martha McCaughey

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