CIVILIZATION’S IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT;
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF TRASHING THE EARTH
FALL 2009 ENVMT 19 CODE: 44739 3 UNITS
SYLLABUS Version 1
6:30-9:30pm Tuesdays, Saturday/Sunday 9:30am-4:00pm (lunch 12:30-1:00) 5/24 at the Environmental Center, Self-Reliant House (SRH) Robin Freeman, 510-434-3840 firstname.lastname@example.org, David Ralston, DRalston@oaklandnet.com
Texts: Diamond, Jared, Guns, Germs, and Steel, Norton 1999 and Taylor, Shelley, The Tending Instinct, Times Books Henry Holt, 2002 - Available at bookstores, on line and on reserve in the Library. Course readers. Working Title: Authority, Stress. and Hope; How Civilization Lost Its Connection With Nature and How We Can Repair It. Freeman, Rauh et al. Creating Peace, Freeman
NOTE: Some syllabus details may change.
Introduction to civilization’s impact on the environment: Connections between human psychosocial development and the creation of both environmental problems and their solutions. Exploration of the human psyche, its origins in nature, and its influence on the story of life on earth; an exploration of the opportunities and obstacles to planning a sustainable future. The course will cover:
1 - Background concepts in ecology and psychology
2- Characterizing the problem applying new findings to old issues
3 - Research hypotheses
4 - Characterizing the solution
Learning Outcomes should assist in being able to:
1. Describe the basic psychological, cultural, and economic systems of humans.
2. Analyze and describe ecosystem concepts as they relate to human behavior.
3. Explain and discuss examples of sustainability problems, solutions, and scales from both a human psychosocial and an ecological perspective.
4. Analyze and discuss methods of measuring obstacles and opportunities for action.
5. Propose or identify potential psychological and sustainable ecological interventions and plans.
October 6 – Introductions, Hunches, Evidence and Research and What is Nature? Ecosystems; How We Live In Them
About course, Introductions Gaps beyond the cutting edge, emerging research and scientific discovery. Fire and Watersheds – Findings of the Fire and Watershed projects.
a. Ecosystem and system definitions
b. Homeostasis and feedback loops
d. Exponential growth
e. Stress and carrying capacity
f. Adaptive/maladaptive behavior
Discussion: What is civilization? What is basic human nature?
Assignment: list what you think are basic human nature characteristics
Read Guns, Germs and Steel Prologue through Chapter 5
October 10 Sat No class – These hours will be rescheduled to support class case studies.
October 13 – Psychological Development and the Natural History of Humans
Key Background concepts and definitions- , Human development, learning, and psychology, Sustainability, Infrastructure, and Ecosystem
Discussion: Basic human nature from a developmental point of view. Do human development and ecology interact?
Human nature list due
Assignment:: Write a paragraph of how the lecture topic affects you personally, or if not, why.
Read: Guns, Germs and Steel Chapter 6-10 and Authority, Stress. and Hope Preface, Introduction, and Hypothesis
Final Project: Choose any sector of literature listed below and one or more key concepts and research the literature. Keep track of where you looked and what you found. Summarize or annotate your findings, what general trends did you find? You will give a presentation to class. You may work in groups. Your research will be part of the archives at the Institute for Sustainable Policy Studies. Topic choice draft due Nov. 10. Draft due Nov. 24
Scientific: Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, Education, Political Science, Public Health,
Philosophy: Aesthetics, Ethics and the Nature of Good; Phenomenology, Rational Reductionism
Technical: Literature of solutions, Monitoring research of scale and type of problems
Popular Media: Non religious/spiritual reportage of solutions
Cultural Writing/Literature: Stories of solutions, hope and well being
Religious/Spiritual: Stories of solutions, hope and well being
Ancient Oral and Mythic: Stories of solutions, hope and well being
October 20 – PROFESSIONAL DAY No class
October 27 – Civilization, Authority, Stress and Collapse; Characterizing the Problem Origins and outcomes of Civilization
Discussion: Despair vs. Hope; what is our sense of the future? Naming the problem.
Assignment: Write about your experience as a child in nature, and/or a childhood experience of friendship, good will, bullying, or fear. Due Nov. 8
Read: Authority, Stress. and Hope glossary and Guns, Germs and Steel Chapters 11-14, 18 Epilogue and Afterward
November 3 – Hypotheses for Hope
Authoritarian Stress Syndrome Caretaking, Tending and the Infrastructure of solutions. Chaos theory, scale and interventions. How does it all fit together?
Discussion: The nature of hope.
Assignment: - Write about an expansive, inspiring, pivotal or epiphinal experience, or the closest thing to it you have had.
Read: The Tending Instinct Chapters 1-3
November 8 Sun
Preparing the pre-conditions in the East Bay Green Corridor
Can we use the East Bay Green Corridor to redefine our landscape and city scape as a thriving, safe and healthy place beginning with the resources at hand?
Community-building/design-build and creative engagement weekend projects
Oakland Mayor’s Task Force participation and authority
Framing conversations on nested scales and systems
This class, Merritt ENVMT,Hills Neighborhood – Forests and watersheds
Oakland,East Bay, Global check list
East Bay Regional Parks Working Group to work with Whitney Dotson re: equitable access and San Leandro Creek
Childhood experience due
November 10 – The Shared Narrative and Sequellae; Characterizing the Solutions; Maintaining the Problems
Research draft list due. Inspiring experience due
Read Tending Instinct Chapters 4-6 and Authority, Stress. and Hope
November 15 Sun – host meeting EB Green Corridor TBA Exploring the creative potential and need of humans and how this has been effectively suppressed and exploited in modern civilization
Read: Creating Peace
November 17 - Empire, Social Class, Power, Money Decision Making And Democracy – The Invention Of Economics And Corporations- Symbols of Authority
Building a village by hand, Building a city by fiat. The Artisan and the Empire
Read Tending Instinct Chapters 7-9
November 22 Sun Institutional capacity: Why Robert Frost favors semi-revolutions.– host meeting EB Green Corridor TBA
Read Tending Instinct Chapters 10 - 11
November 24– Creating Violence; Infrastructures Of Addiction - Creating Peace Environments Integrated Against Alienation
Read Creating Peace
Assignment: Build a problem set of research questions. Suggest a method to research one element of your problem set and how to implement it as an alpha test.
Final Project Draft Due
December 1 Case Histories
Analyzing systems and research methods:
a. Psychosocial barriers to the development of effective environmental policy at the
community, national or international levels; identifying gaps
b. Intervention techniques for translating environmental knowledge into policy and action
Developing a Plan– Next steps/Roundtable
–Characterizing the Solutions/ Building a Research Agenda and an Action Plan– Case Studies and
Infrastructure and Interconnections – Give Hope a Plan
Choosing the future: Creating visions, plans, next steps, strategies:
a. Planning methods
b. Developing a vision: Where ideas come from, uses of the imagination
c. Social-based marketing
d. Designing interventions
December – 8– Research of Literature presentations
Course Requirements: The course may be taken for credit/non-credit (audit) or for a letter grade. For credit or a letter grade, reasonable attendance, participation, and completion of reading assignments are required. For a letter grade, weekly paragraphs and the research project are also required. To use the course towards a certificate or degree you must take it for a letter grade. At the end of the semester, you will evaluate the course and suggest your own grade.