Christine Wieder ’20
"Communicating the Environment: Fact, Fiction, Poetics"
Hometown: Bethlehem, PA
Project Advisor: Dr. Theresa Dougal
Briefly describe your project.
Climate change is a major issue today, and my goal was to explore how literature contributed to the discourse on this problem. More specifically, I read from several genres, as well as numerous secondary sources, and discovered how literature can best persuade people to care enough about the environment to take concrete action.
Describe the origin of your project.
I knew I wanted to do a SOAR project, but I was initially uncertain about what it would entail. I reached out to Dr. Dougal and expressed my interest in working with her, as well as what I would like to work with, and she narrowed it down to this topic.
What’s the best part about working with your faculty mentor? What valuable insights have they brought to your project?
Although it may not be her specialty, Dr. Dougal is very passionate about environmental issues, so she brought a lot of enthusiasm to this project. I think the best part about working with her is that she’s somehow able to find a valid point I can make in my paper (one that I wouldn’t have even thought of) after listening to me rant about my ideas.
What has been your biggest obstacle so far?
This is more of a frustration than an obstacle, but the fact that many climate change narratives tend to be dystopian, but these are the least effective in promoting change.
What has been your biggest takeaway from this experience?
Honestly, I would have to say a big confidence boost. I was not expecting my presentation to go as well as it did, but the amount of positive feedback I received afterward was incredibly encouraging and made me even more excited to present elsewhere.
What was the result of your project?
I found that some of the best ways to encourage people to care about the environment are to focus on health effects (both positive and negative), make references to the past, and depict it as a matter of stewardship. Furthermore, although dystopian novels are immensely popular, they are actually ineffective when it comes to promoting change because of how unrelatable/unrealistic they tend to be.
In your own words, how do you feel about being awarded this opportunity? Why should other students take advantage of the SOAR program at Moravian College?
I feel very grateful for this opportunity. It gave me a chance to dive into a topic I’m interested in with a faculty member’s guidance. Other students should definitely take advantage of this if they want to explore a topic of interest to them that is not necessarily offered in a typical class. Plus, it looks great on a resume!
Now that SOAR is over, do you plan to expand upon your research? If so, how?
I wouldn’t say I plan to expand upon my research, but rather I plan to refine my paper so that it is presentation-ready if I bring it elsewhere.
Have you, or do you plan to present this research outside the SOAR presentations?
I plan to submit my work to present at the National Conference of Undergraduate Research in the spring. It’s in Montana, which is very exciting!