Innovative May Term Course Inspires Climate Activism at MBU

MBU’s visiting Doenges Scholar, Dr. Max Liboiron, led students seeking to learn how to make a difference this May Term.

Dr. Max Liboiron, an associate professor of geography at Memorial University in Newfoundland, Canada, returned to Mary Baldwin University this spring to lead an impactful course on climate activism. As MBU’s 2023-24 Doenges Scholar, Liboiron (pronounced Lee-Bwah-rohn)  brought their renowned expertise in environmental science and anti-colonial practices to campus once again, after visiting last fall.

The course, “How to Effectively Give a Damn,” aimed to equip students with practical skills for scientific research and climate activism, emphasizing the importance of addressing environmental issues with a hands-on approach. Students from diverse academic backgrounds, ranging from arts to sciences, enrolled in the course. They engaged in a range of activities, from theoretical discussions on environmental justice to practical exercises constructing tools for fieldwork.

One of the standout projects reflected the course’s focus on actionable environmental stewardship. Liboiron asked students to form groups to design and create instruments from recycled materials that would aid in the collection of trash from waterways, including Staunton’s own Lewis Creek.

“I knew that plastic was a major pollution problem,” remarked Akeilah George, a senior, “but I didn’t realize [before this class] the scale it is on.”

Liboiron has garnered acclaim for their work with indigenous communities in northeastern Canada. Their lessons blend anti-colonialism and environmental studies, focusing on teaching and reversing the detrimental effects that Western colonization and capitalism have had on the environment and its inhabitants.

While this work might sound complicated and sometimes requires lofty terminology to describe, Liboiron’s class grounds it in reality. Across the world, rivers, lakes, oceans, and streams are teeming with harmful waste like plastics and other pollutants. Liboiron teaches that it is the responsibility of humanity, who caused this pollution, to clean these waterways.

For a closer look at the innovative projects and insightful discussions from Liboiron’s class, watch the accompanying video that captures the essence of this transformative course: both educating MBU students on critical environmental issues and inspiring them to become proactive agents of change.

Interested in studying sustainability at MBU? Check out Mary Baldwin’s programs in Environmental Biology or Business with a focus on sustainability.