Emerging 3.0: Highlight on Sandra Allen

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For this post I wanted to highlight just one reading from the new edition of Emerging. For this week I’ve selected Sandra Allen's “A World Without Wine.”

Allen was a last minute addition. In fact, I think it was the last essay we selected, turning to it after we found out we couldn’t afford the permissions costs for one of the other readings. I think it’s a nice piece of serendipity, as I really enjoy this essay.

Allen is writing about global climate change—a pressing issue for students to consider—but through the lens of one unexpected and potentially devastating impact: the loss of the world’s great wine-growing regions. As it turns out (perhaps not surprisingly), wine grapes are quite delicate and require a very specific environment. If it’s a bit too hot or too cold or too wet or too dry an entire vintage can be impacted. Scientists now believe that shifts in global weather patterns will cause a concomitant shift in viticulture, devastating historical wine-growing regions, like France and California.

I love it because it takes something abstract, scientific, mocked, and vaguely threatening (global climate change) and phrases it through something specific and concrete, relatable, interesting, and compelling. That is, students may not care much about global climate change but there’s a better chance that they will care about wine. It’s that specific effect that raises awareness of the larger issue.

Allen’s essay was originally published on Buzzfeed, the internet site that offers news and quizzes and recipes. I struggled with taking an essay from such a “non-academic” source, but in the end Allen’s ability to communicate the effects of climate change so compellingly won out.

It’s one of a few essays we’ve added to talk about the environment and it also works within our existing essays about food and agriculture. It’s also great for thinking about science and technology. In the end, I think it’s a bit versatile and I hope you will check it out.

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About the Author
Barclay Barrios is an Associate Professor of English and Director of Writing Programs at Florida Atlantic University, where he teaches freshman composition and graduate courses in composition methodology and theory, rhetorics of the world wide web, and composing digital identities. He was Director of Instructional Technology at Rutgers University and currently serves on the board of Pedagogy. Barrios is a frequent presenter at professional conferences, and the author of Emerging.