Subtitled "Observation, Knowledge and Imagination," this course explores the idea that environmental awareness is rooted in firsthand experience of nature.
We will read widely in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, science, philosophy and mythology derived in various ways from an intimate awareness of nature. Students will be required to do their own observational "field work" on campus and in the Susquehanna watershed and produce a substantial portfolio of writing in journal/blog form, lyric poetry, and several forms of the short essay (nonfiction). Throughout the semester, we will discuss the demands and rewards of moving from an anthropocentric to a biocentric point of view as the key to a sustainable future. Readings include E. O. Wilson, Gary Snyder, Jane Goodall, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, James Dickey, Norman Maclean, Rachel Carson, Charles Darwin, Aldo Leopold, Emerson, Thoreau, Classical and Native American mythology, Zen Buddhism (Dogen) and T'ang Dynasty poetry.
Christianity & Sustainability
This course will examine environmental sustainability from the standpoint of cultural creativity, with a special focus on spirituality as a motivation for sustainable community life.
It will explore in particular the Christian-inspired ecological fantasy writing of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings in relation to New Agrarian and Urban Agrarian environmental movements. The approaches of other spiritual traditions to sustainability, such as the Amish, and also Buddhism, and Judaism, will also be explored. Readings will include both fiction and classic essays on sustainability by writers such as Wendell Berry and Annie Dillard. The course will encourage students of all faiths or no faith to explore connections between culture, imagination, and ecology.