Interview with Dr Arran Stibbe about his Lightning Presentation on ‘Creating a free online open access course’

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For the Lightning Presentation section of the event, Arran is presenting a session entitled: Creating a free online open access course. I asked him about the session..

Q1: Who are you / what do you do?

A1: I’m Arran Stibbe, a Reader in Ecological Linguistics and NTF. I do research on how language shapes the stories we live by, teach Language and Identity, Language and Ethics and Communication for Leadership, and work with ADU on educational development.

Q2: What are you going to tell us about at the Festival of Learning?


A2: I’m going to discuss the MOOC I’ve been making with four Future Plan interns and volunteers from the International Ecolinguistics Association. It’s called The Stories We Live By: a free online course in ecolinguistics. The course describes how ecolinguistics reveals the stories that structure our current unsustainable civilisation, questions those stories from an ecological perspective, and contributes to the search for new stories to live by. It seems to have struck a chord because hundreds of participants have signed up so far, and a team of 21 PhD students and academics from around the world have volunteered to provide free tuition in 12 languages. I’ll show what the course looks like and briefly mention some of the challenges of making a MOOC without many resources to draw on.

Q3: Which other Lightning Presentation or Paper from the programme are you most looking forward to (and, if you know, why)?

A3: Using visual art in teaching and learning (Professor Melissa Raphael)– because the visual can be a powerful way to engage students and get them thinking deeply about issues.

Q4: If people only remember one thing from your talk/session/paper – a single sentence – what should that be?

A4: That making a MOOC on a DIY platform can be challenging and require a lot of weekend work, but can also be extremely rewarding when hundreds sign up and describe how the course has inspired them.

Arran Stibbe is a reader in Ecological Linguistics at the University of Gloucestershire , author of Ecolinguistics: language, ecology and the stories we live by (Routledge, 2015) and Animals Erased: discourse, ecology and reconnection with nature (Wesleyan University Press, 2012). He has a background both in linguistics and human ecology, and teaches a range of courses including ecolinguistics, ecocriticism, ethics and language, communication for leadership, discourse analysis and language and identity. Arran is founder and convenor of the International Ecolinguistics Association (, a network of 600 ecolinguists from around the world, and has created a free online course in ecolinguistics (

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