I know the work of several of these women, but others were introduced to me by this listicle, entitled Guardians of the Planet: 16 Women Environmentalists You Should Know. I am using the list in the online summer version of my introductory Environmental Geography course. I have taught the course in many formats, using a traditional textbook by my master's advisor for many years.
Almost a decade ago, I found a book that has worked better in many ways, The View from Lazy Point by MacArthur genius Carl Safina. I have already been supplementing the book in a few ways -- it was never intended to be used in this sort of class, after all -- and decided that I should create some supplemental activities using this list. Many of the most important environmental leaders on the planet are women -- including the original tree huggers -- and their words and works have been the basis of many of my other classes.
I am having each student read this article and do just a little research about one of the women on the list. Because enrollment in the class has recently surpassed the number of women described here, I have added a few more guardians of note. (Enrollment in the course is still open, so I might add a few more by next week). These links point to Wikipedia entries, a starting point comparable to what the listicle itself provides:
I have already given the students in this class plenty to grapple with in this five-week class, so I am grateful to my favorite librarian for helping me to craft a bibliographic assignment that requires the students to explore the contributions of these women without taking on too much additional work.
They will also be helping me to create a map that locates all of the guardians we are studying -- including Carl Safina.
As I was getting ready to share this with students today (April 20, 2021), my favorite BBC program Witness History gave me a name to add. LaDonna Harris is a Comanche woman who was married to a U.S. Senator during the Nixon years (and later ran for U.S. Vice President in her own right). The story mentions that their marriage was illegal in Virginia at the time. She is credited with convincing Congress -- and ultimately President Nixon -- to return land to indigenous people -- not her own tribe, but the Taos Pueblo -- for the first time in U.S. history. This is just one chapter in a long and interesting life -- her Wikipedia entry has a few more good stories.