My research involves using popular media as a tool to separate environmentalist practice from the gender binary. Historically, environmentalism has been divided along binary gender lines, as in the cases of ecofeminism and ecomasculinity which use one’s gender as the basis for environmental attitudes. Since environmentalism should be inclusive of all people regardless of gender, I’ve spent this semester developing the environmental theory of ecoandrogyny as an environmental framework that is inclusive of all gender expressions. As popular literature and media are powerful tools or sharing environmental values, especially to young people, I identified Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender as an example ecoandrogynous text for its nuanced depictions of both environmental practice and gender expression.
I have been fortunate to receive an array of support on this project. My URSP funding has allowed me to attend academic conferences where I could meet and learn from other scholars in my field. As I am completing this project in conjunction with Mason’s English Honors thesis course, I received additional assistance with discipline-specific research and drafting issues.
Completing this project will help me reach my future goals of continuing my education and becoming a college-level educator. Not only can my completed paper serve as a writing sample for graduate school applications, I have also gained a strong background in advanced research and writing techniques that will serve me well in my future academic and professional work. Additionally, working with so many outstanding professors, scholars, and library staff has given a better understanding of what I look for in a mentor. This knowledge will help inform my own teaching and mentorship style so that I can serve my future students to the best of my ability.