About Us

Dr. Greg Lankenau

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 communication.

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?

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