University of South Florida
Contribute to our future
Who are we? Who are you? What role do our individual and social identities play in
the struggle for a more just and sustainable world?
These are the questions that animate Dr. Greg Lankenau's teaching and scholarship.
Dr. Lankenau is a full-time instructor in the Judy Genshaft Honors College with an
emphasis in environmental studies. He is centrally concerned with sustainability –
the possibility that human and other life can flourish on this planet indefinitely
– and particularly how sustainability involves who we are and who we want to become,
both personally and collectively.
Dr. Lankenau engages this core theme of identity and sustainability through two related
branches of his work. The first branch is identity and transformative environmental
education. Dr. Lankenau's research, including "Fostering Connectedness to Nature in
Higher Education" published in Environmental Education Research, explores the process
and potential of transformative learning: learning that involves experiencing a deep,
fundamental shift in the basic premises of thought, feelings, and actions.
Dr. Lankenau seeks to infuse his own teaching with this transformative emphasis, inviting
students to examine, challenge, and transform personal and societal values associated
with (un)sustainability. His course on Sustainability and Society, for example, looks
at current environmental and societal practices with a critical eye. Are they sustainable?
Are they just? If not, how might they be done differently?
The second branch of Dr. Lankenau's work is identity, climate change denial, and communication.
Human-caused climate change is poised to become one of the most important issues of
this century, but despite decades of overwhelming scientific evidence, a significant
number of people deny its reality. Why? Part of the answer lies in individual and
social identity: the acceptance or rejection of the science of climate change has
become a marker of who we are and to which groups we belong. How do we bridge this
gap and build a collective understanding about the reality, urgency, and opportunity
of climate change?Some of Dr. Lankenau's courses directly revolve around this question, including one
on Climate Change Science from a natural science perspective that emphasizes climate
literacy, and one on Climate Change Disinformation and Denial from a social science
perspective that emphasizes information literacy and identity-sensitive climate change
In line with the philosophy of the Judy Genshaft Honors College, Dr. Lankenau's teaching
and scholarship is strongly interdisciplinary; he has an eclectic mix of academic
backgrounds, including two PhDs, one MS, two BSs, one undergraduate minor, and two
undergraduate "almost-minors" (that he would have enjoyed completing if not for the
need to graduate at some point). The subject matter of each of these is a guessing
game he enjoys playing with students, partially for fun, but mostly to illustrate
a point: Dr. Lankenau would have never found his calling, teaching environmental studies,
if he had limited himself to only learning things within his major. We are not our
majors. We are not our careers. We are all complex, multifaceted individuals who have
the opportunity to explore all the ideas, experiences, and perspectives this beautiful
world has to offer, and the responsibility to act as informed, engaged global citizens.If that kind of perspective on life and learning sounds good to you, then by all means,
come join Dr. Lankenau in one of his courses, or stop by for a chat! To paraphrase
writer and activist Derrick Jensen, there's really only one question in life, and
only one lesson: who are you, and what are you going to do about it?
Contact Dr. Lankenau