One of the challenges to teaching Environmental Studies in Decorah is that one must work against the grain of the lovely limestone bluffs, the Karst topography, and the fall foliage.
Too readily can students walk away from a seminar or a talk and declare that ecological crises might be real, but not here. I recall noticing the same response in myself at the 2008 ASLE conference in Victoria, B.C. After a day of panels on emergency, I would stroll with old and newfound friends to the micro-beach, sit on the sand, enjoy the sea-sounds, and feel like everything we'd just been doing wasn't really real.
What I aim to cultivate in my students then is active work within the aesthetic dimension to always keep the trash can in the frame when imaging the golden hues.