Written by Pace student Sarah Aires ’14
Tracy Basile, a Dyson adjunct professor and environmental journalist and activist, has dedicated much of her life to promoting a greater consciousness in her students. She urges them to observe, and most importantly enjoy, the natural world around them. Basile teaches several courses on the Pleasantville Campus, among them two very popular courses entitled Food Revolution and Nature and Culture. She has served as Senior Editor of Animal Watch, the monthly magazine of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) headquartered in NYC to spread awareness of the plethora of animal rights issues the world is still plagued with today. “Do we understand that every species has as much a right to be here as we do?” she asks.
The courses she teaches at Pace are grounded in a sense of community. They often require volunteer service making them eligible to fulfill a student’s AOK1 requirement. In the Food Revolution course, students travel to Hilltop Hanover Farm about 20 minutes north of the Pleasantville Campus to weed carrot patches, bundle chives, harvest beets, and other farm-related tasks. The initiative to get students out of the classroom and engaged with nature is something Basile feels will instill in them a love and appreciation of the outdoors. Other volunteer opportunities she promotes include working with the SPCA of Westchester, the Wolf Conservation Center, or hosting speaking events that feature Indigenous people from around the area.
She takes great pride in bringing her activist work supporting Indigenous issues to Pace University. Last Thursday, April 18, students from one of her Environmental Studies courses (Social Responsibility and the World of Nature) hosted an Earth Month event in honor of a treaty older than the birth of this nation—the Two Row Wampum Belt of the Haudenosaunee (formerly known as the Iroquois). Speakers at the event shared ideas on Native and non-Native people living together in peace and friendship, forever.
Professor Basile has also recently co-produced a riveting short documentary film, The Unfractured Future, which explores Native voices and their concern over hydrofracking, a complex environmental issue that affects our health, economy, and water. The film provides valuable insight into native perspectives rarely explored in mainstream media. Watch the film here.
Most of Basile’s knowledge of native peoples, cultures, and nature are from self-teaching. She reminds us, “Imagine if we treated the earth with love and respect, and gave back more than we took.”