Journal Entry Prompts - St. Olaf Pages

Journal Ideas for Any Day:
Create your own “word collage” of key themes or phrases you noticed in the
reading for class. Write a short description of your collage and what you thought
about while you made it.
Relate an article you read on the SustainAbilities home page or in a recent
newspaper or online article to a theme or text you’ve been thinking about in
Campus Ecology.
“Dense fact” an object.
Write about something you saw on campus that made you wonder….
Write about an “ideal” vision you have—for a classroom, a community, an
environment, a relationship, a meaningful purchase… be creative!
Put multiple authors in conversation with each other, or give the perspective of an
author on an aspect of our St. Olaf lives. (For example, what would Wendell
Berry think of our cafeteria? How would Mary Oliver feel if she witnessed a
Pause Dance? )
Tell a story… see where you end up.
Journal Prompts for 2/13-3/4 (to get you started if you’re ever stuck…)
2/13/13 This Place on Earth
What are the familiar sights and sounds of St. Olaf? What are the strange sights
and sounds beneath the familiar ones? How can we make the invisible visible?
Is St. Olaf College part of what Wallace Stegner called “the geography of hope?”
Is it a place of possibilities? What is possible in this place?
“Do you remember?” What is memory for? How is memory related to nostalgia?
Why do we wait to “remember” until something ( a life, a moment…) has ended?
What are our memories of St. Olaf College, our home, this place in time?
What myths do we construct about the present? For example, what myths are we
constructing about the college experience? (We tend to look back and alter the
past from new ground… “romanticize” as Gruchow says. How do we make these
romantic notions into realities in the present?)
What do you worry about?
Are you depressed about the state of the world? Do you believe in progress? Do
you hope? What do you hope for? What do you hope from?
What are the sources of your hope?
What is the “landscape of your childhood”
What's the good life?
2/18/13 Rethinking Education
Do you see your grades as a reflection of your intelligence? If not, when do you
feel that your intellect is accurately represented?
Do you have to be virtuous to be a good college student? Should colleges teach
virtues? (Can they avoid it?)
How does St. Olaf understand its identity and mission? How does that affect your
identity and mission as a student here? What are your educational goals? Can
you achieve them at this college?
Write your own addition to the 2000 St. Olaf Mission Statement
Fill out your own “college brain” based on the diagram in the book (page x.)
Follow up: If a team of anthropologists studied everyday life at St. Olaf, looking
at the actual practices of students at the college, what would they infer about our
educational values? About our American values? What do we really learn here?
What’s the hidden curriculum?
2/20/13 Education for a Sustainable Future
How did “rankings” play into your decision to come to St. Olaf? Which rankings
did you trust and why?
What are the dangers of disciplines, and of professionalization? Why do we have
academic departments? What is departmentalization good for? What is your
major good for?
What are “designing minds?” Do you have a designing mind? How many
different designs are you living in? Who designed your daily life—and how? How
is your coursework preparing you to design the future for yourself and your
Have you ever felt ecologically intellectual?
2/25/13 The Environmentalist’s New Clothes
What does your clothing say about you?
Farrell identifies at least seven reasons that we buy clothes. Can you add to his
What would David Orr think about LivKarin Sulerud’s St. Olaf? What
advantages and disadvantages do you see in her plan?
What’s the story of your jeans? See if all the steps of jean-etic planting and
processing are on the manufacturer’s website. If not, write to them and tell them
you want to know.
Count and categorize the number of items of clothing you currently have in your
dorm room. [an inventory.] List the countries spelled out on each of the tags…
By doing this, you can trace the geography of your closet, the globalization of
How do we overcome systematic ignorance? Can we start with our college
campus? How?
Follow up: If you were to “annotate” the campus in order to raise awareness
about the environmental politics of our everyday choices, which spaces would
you choose to annotate? Why? Make one annotation.
2/27 Eating as an Agricultural Act
Wendell Berry cookbook entry (using guidelines from Lauren Kramer) for extra
credit. The attachment can be found on our Campus Ecology Moodle page.
Design an advertisement for “ethical” family dinners. Play with the ads that are in
the Class Prezi, and incorporate what you’ve thought about in Kingsolver, Oliver,
Orr, Neruda, and Wendell Berry’s work.
Make a list of questions to ask at the Supermarket
3/4/13 Food in Thought
Orr: “dense fact” a bag lunch—showing price vs. “cost” of the items in the bag.
You don’t need to do too much formal research—see where your thoughts take
Pollan (5): Write a conversation between items on a supermarket shelf.
(inspiration: “Of course it’s a lot easier to slap a health claim on a box of sugary
cereal than on a potato or carrot, with the perverse result that the most healthful
foods in the supermarket sit there quietly in the produce section, silent as stroke
victims, while a few aisles over, the Cocoa Puffs and Lucky Charms are
screaming about their newfound whole-grain goodness” )
On our class online Prezi, I’ve included several images of “health claims” on
recognizable food images, and I’ve also attached 2 videos about Weight Watchers
and Nutrisystem. Diets, the appearance of our bodies, and the buzz about
“nutrition” have become an embedded part of our American culture. Journal in
response to these videos and images, or any popular culture material you find
relatable. How does the constant focus on calories, measured food, and being “in
shape” affect our relationships with each other and with the world around us?
Steingraber: What was your favorite food growing up? Perform a Steingraber-like
short analysis of its history (i.e. p. 5 “Pizza: A Natural History”)
How has this article made you think about the “politics of parenting?” Will you
parent your future children any differently because of it?
Community Gardening: What kind of community and world do you want to live
in? If a community garden isn’t an institution that will help you get there, what
will? Where will you find or create “hoping mechanisms,” hopeful institutions?
Gruchow’s Transfiguration of Bread: Does money make you happy? What kind
of life do you want? (108) Why does Gruchow give us a title with religious
Gruchow’s Guerrilla Warfare: (104) Explain your reaction to the image painted
of artificial and sterile agriculture. If eating is a political act, how do you plan to
change your agriculture?