Intercultural and interdisciplinary open resources supporting environmental justice

This is the fifth and final in a series of posts about each of the teams that will be attending SCI 2022 and their projects. This one was submitted by Jeff Gima.

Photo of wind turbines on a green hillside

Challenge and context

The April 2022 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, “Mitigation of Climate Change”, provides a harsh assessment of how far behind we are on commitments to reversing climate change trends, and of how urgent action on the climate has become. The IPCC’s February 2022 report, “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability,” reminds us of the importance of engaging in climate action from a perspective of equity and justice, recognizing the inequitable impact of climate change on parts of the world most vulnerable, least able to combat, and least responsible for, climate change.

In the context of this broad challenge, there are a few challenges specific to global higher education that members of AMICAL Consortium may be well placed to work on, in a modest way that our means and reach permit:

  • the need for greater global availability and visibility of teaching resources and scholarship on the environment arising from the global south, given their current underrepresentation
  • the need for future global citizens and leaders from the global south, regardless of their field of study, to learn how their work, and their intellectual and personal interests, may relate to and impact the environment in their part of the world and elsewhere.
Map showing location of AMICAL consortium members

Member institutions in the AMICAL Consortium

AMICAL is a group of 29 international liberal arts colleges and universities following an American model of higher education but based outside the United States, in 20 countries across the Middle East, Central and Southern Asia, Africa and Europe. AMICAL has historically focused on professional development and project support that brings librarians, technologists and faculty at these institutions together, encouraging closer collaboration in their shared educational missions.

This combination of relevant stakeholders for collaborating on open educational resources and scholarship, our inherently multicultural learning environments, and our balance of members from the global north and south, provides our team with a strong basis for working on intercultural & interdisciplinary open resources supporting environmental justice. Our team therefore aims to build a program of support for the development of innovative and collaborative curricular resources, pedagogy and scholarship from a wide range of disciplines and contexts of application at AMICAL member institutions, including:

  • environmental studies, environmental science, environmental humanities, etc.
  • other disciplines affording an interdisciplinary connection to environmental topics (political science, literature, philosophy, etc.)
  • co-curricular programs and activities, wherever possible involving outreach and collaboration with neighboring institutions, organizations and communities

Tentative project plans

To do this, we plan to develop collaboratively with faculty, librarians and instructional designers at AMICAL institutions a program with multiple areas of action, combining support for OER and OA content development with support for OER and OA capacity building. Our “intercultural & interdisciplinary open resources supporting environmental justice” project, tentatively abbreviated as “Open Resources for Environmental Justice”, would:

  • Help faculty and staff to build capacities for using, adapting and creating Open Educational Resources through
    • sharing of outreach and awareness materials
    • training and consultation
    • faculty stipends for adapting/creating OER
    • shared infrastructure (e.g. platforms for creating and publishing OER)
  • Curate a consortial collection of Open Educational Resources produced by members around environmental and related studies, in support of:
    • course and curriculum development
    • pedagogy (materials for improving teaching practice, possibly produced by faculty development centers at AMICAL member institutions)
    • co-curricular programs and activities that bridge class, student life and community
  • Identify and help implement models for promoting and managing Open Access scholarship at member institutions (through sharing best practices, models appropriate for AMICAL institutions, members’ OA policies, etc.)
  • Provide technical and financial support to authors from AMICAL institutions to publish environment-related scholarship under Open Access frameworks, with a focus on scholars from or related to underrepresented countries

Though some of the above activities can already be supported in preliminary and incidental ways by AMICAL, we hope to find funding to allow us to support these activities at a consortial scale.

Screen shot from site

A prototype for environment-related OER that could be supported by our Open Resources for Environmental Justice project:

One of our team members, Dr. Antonio Lopez, has already been developing a project,, a curated collection of resources for teaching on topics related to media literacy and the environment. Dr. Lopez’s project is not only an inspiration for the larger “Open Resources for Environmental Justice” project we’re working on at TriangleSCI, but also a prototype for the kind of environment-related OER collections that we hope to support through our larger project. We hope to develop a consortial framework for supporting projects like, learning along the way how to help our member institutions contribute to educational resources and scholarship representing the global south, in the most open and accessible way.

Team members

Our team includes colleagues from different AMICAL institutions and professional roles, including:

  • faculty members interested in building collaborative resources to advance environment-related teaching, scholarship or action
  • a librarian with experience in library-based OER and OA initiatives
  • an instructional designer with experience collaborating with faculty on the development of OER
  • consortial leadership staff with experience building and implementing collaborative programs

Antonio Lopez is an expert curriculum designer, educator, trainer, and theorist with a research focus on bridging ecojustice and media literacy. He is a founding theorist and architect of ecomedia literacy and creator of the website, for which he recently received a Marieli Rowe Innovation in Media Literacy Education Award. He has written numerous articles, essays, and books related to media literacy and the environment. Currently he is Professor of Communications and Media Studies at John Cabot University in Rome, Italy. In the context of this project, Antonio will be developing out, as an exemplar of collaborative work on OER for environment-related studies. He will also help shape our approach to working with faculty on environmental OER and scholarship generally.

Elena Berg is an Associate Professor of Environmental Science at the American University of Paris (AUP), where she teaches courses in environmental science, evolutionary biology, animal behavior, and human evolution, and conducts laboratory research with her students on cooperation and conflict in seed beetles. She also directs AUP’s Environmental Science Center and chairs the university’s Advisory Board on Environmental Sustainability. For this project, Elena will help guide efforts to develop shared resources to support co-curricular activities, in particular at the intersection between teaching, research, and outreach related to campus sustainability efforts, or that help students to take what they are learning and doing in the classroom out into the communi​​ty.

Dalal Rahme is Data Services Librarian at the American University of Beirut, where she is currently leading a campus-wide initiative in support of OER. She is also Convener for AMICAL’s Open Education Interest Group and at AUB. Dalal will be helping to shape this project’s approach to OER and OA, both in terms of consortial initiatives (e.g. curation of a consortium-wide collection of OER) and in terms of how AMICAL might support activities at individual member institutions (e.g. supporting individual authors to publish in OA venues).

Nadine Aboulmagd is Senior Instructional Designer at The Center for Learning and Teaching at the American University in Cairo. Nadine has collaborated on the creation of several OER projects, including an open textbook with a Music professor, published by Rebus (her collaboration is briefly reported on here). She has expertise in areas such as online learning, blended learning, digital pedagogy, educational technology, faculty development, learner experience design and graphic design. On this project, Nadine will be helping to shape our approach to collaboration with faculty and faculty development centers on adapting and creating OER.

Alex Armstrong is Program & Technology Officer for the AMICAL Consortium. Alex co-develops AMICAL’s programs, manages all technology used by the consortium, and is responsible for communications and community development related to all of AMICAL’s programs. For this project, Alex will be helping to develop, implement and communicate with AMICAL members about any consortial-level programs. Alex will also lead planning and implementation of any technology-related aspects of the project, including identifying appropriate external resources that need to be sourced.

Jeff Gima is AMICAL Consortium Director. Jeff provides organizational leadership for AMICAL, manages all business aspects of the consortium’s operations and co-develops AMICAL’s programs. For this project, Jeff will provide overall project leadership at the consortial level, while helping to source funding for the project and plan for project sustainability.


[ Feature image by Appolinary Kalashnikova used under Unsplash Free License. Other images provided by the AMICAL team. ]