ELA - Core
ELA 1000: Images of Nature
This introductory course for all first year students explores some of the ways in which human societies make sense of the natural world. Students read literature that ranges from folklore and poetry to environmental philosophy and natural science, and develop a sense of how culture determines our understanding of our environment. The course begins to develop student writing through formal and informal essays and journaling. Frequent field trips help root students in their new home while they test ideas from classroom readings. The ELA portfolio is begun in this course and added to in each of the subsequent core courses.
Freshman Year, Fall
ELA 1500: Voices of Community: Writing Seminar
Building on the writing skills developed in Images of Nature, Voices of Community provides students with more extensive practice in composition and revision. The course focuses on cultivating the conventions of Standard Written English and enriching students’ expressive and stylistic resources through a series of assignments that explore from diverse perspectives how the environment encompasses human relationships and communities. The critical thinking and communication skills learned in this course enable effective and informed participation in these communities.
Freshman Year, Spring
ELA 2000: Dimensions of Nature
This course focuses on the development of scientific thought as humans endeavored to understand the structure, origin, and character of the natural world. Using original sources, students learn how the process of science has evolved from Aristotle and Euclid to Darwin, Watson and Crick and chaos theory in mathematics. The influence of mythological, religious, political and economic factors will be discussed as they arise from those sources. Toward the end of the course, students prepare oral and written presentations on current scientific papers to show how they are illuminated by a study of some of the landmark events and ideas that have punctuated the history of science. Students are challenged to think and read critically, to speak and write clearly, and to formulate intelligent questions about difficult texts that challenge their current beliefs and values.
Sophomore year, Spring
ELA 4000: A Delicate Balance: Capstone Seminar
What does it mean for me to be an engaged citizen? Students explore the question in this seminar-based capstone course. Different contemporary issues each semester provide background for reflection on individual duty and ethical, environmental, and social policy issues. The readings draw on the work of political philosophers and leaders, artists and scientists, and on contemporary analysis and stories of engagement. Students are asked to integrate, reflect upon, and apply these concepts to their personal goals. The course seeks to refine and enhance the student’s understanding of herself as a citizen and her ability to research independently, critically assess disparate pieces of information, and communicate in both written and oral forms. Students explicitly make connections with prior courses in the ELA program and major; each student completes a project that relates the focus of this class to his own career projections and his best understanding of his own goals for civic engagement. This project is a culmination and expression of his personal interest and involvement with the mission of Green Mountain College.
Junior Year, both semesters
ELA – Quantitative Analysis
ELA 1105: Quantitative Environmental Analysis
This course develops students’ ability to understand, interpret and analyze quantitative data about environmental issues, and to understand the role of such data and methodology in problem solving. The course is not focused on any single type of mathematical analysis, rather it spans a range of analyses that are commonly used and that the student is likely to encounter in the newspaper or in scholarly works they might read in their fields of study. The course is applied and problem based, with issues chosen in which students will use data sets in analyses. Students will use algebra, geometry, and statistical methods to solve problems. They will develop facility in representing mathematical information, interpreting formulas, graphs, and tables to draw inferences, and estimating answers. Finally, they will recognize both the power and limits of mathematical analysis.
ELA- Natural Systems
ELA 1013: Environmental Science
Humans have significantly altered the natural world on which we depend. Environmental science is the study of the complex issues surrounding these alterations, covering topics such as human overpopulation, toxics and pollution, declining biodiversity, and climate change. This course will help you understand the science behind these issues, assess the data, and communicate about them. Students will learn and apply the methods of scientific inquiry and analysis to address these issues. We will also discuss how human values impact the methods we use for protecting the environment. Over the course of the semester, you will evaluate your own ecological footprint to determine your individual impact.
ELA 1016: Astronomy: A Guided Tour of the Heavens
This course is intended to provide the foundation for a life-long enjoyment of the science of astronomy, a science that, with all its sophistication, still welcomes the contributions of skilled amateurs. We will study the night sky and learn to relate the motions of the stars and planets to our place on the surface of the earth, and to the place of the earth in our solar system. We will learn how we know where we are, how we know the solar system’s place in the galaxy and how we know our galaxy’s place in the universe. We will learn about our sun as a star, and about the life cycles of all stars. We will also explore the role of astronomy in the setting of calendars, the telling of time, and in the understanding of long-term climate cycles. We will study the effects of artificial lighting on organisms and on human astronomers, including ourselves. No special optical equipment is required, but a good pair of binoculars will come in handy. Night-time observing sessions, required in addition to class time, will be scheduled weather permitting, and lab sessions in an electronic classroom are also a required component of the course.
ELA 1017: Introduction to Environmental Chemistry
This lab and lecture course will introduce the basic concepts of chemistry and use them to describe and explain current environmental issues. Topics include the air we breathe, global warming, the ozone layer, the wonders of water, acid rain, nutrition, and nuclear energy. 2 laboratory hours weekly
ELA 1110: Local Flora
Plants around us provide primary production, habitat, and other vital ecosystem services, and with their associated landforms and fauna create our unique sense of place. This course is a field-intensive introduction to the plants of Vermont and eastern New York. Plant identification, evolution, ecology, and conservation are important themes. Students learn to recognize major plant families and many local species, become skilled in the use of field guides and technical keys, learn how plants function in communities and how communities have changed over time, and explore problems and methods in conservation of local flora.
ELA 1112: Wildlife Ecology
Wildlife ecology is a study of the ecology and life histories of animals, their habits and habitats. This course will address the history of wildlife concerns and practices in this country, the population and ecological principles that govern wildlife populations (e.g. predation, competition, disease. etc.), ecological physiology and inter relations between wildlife and people. We will examine wildlife conservation practices including past species reintroductions (beaver, fisher, turkey, marten in Vermont), the issue of biodiversity, and in particular the present issues surrounding reintroduction of large carnivores. Finally the course will touch on the issues surrounding urbanization, acid rain, mercury pollution, and global warming as they impact wildlife.
Finally there will be brief homework and lab exercises involving analysis of wildlife population data, along with observation and measurement of biological specimens, and identification of selected mammals.
ELA 1114: Conservation Medicine
In the past quarter century, there has been an unprecedented emergence of new diseases in both human and wildlife populations. Lyme disease, West Nile fever, avian influenza, and pesticide toxicosis are but a few examples. This diversity has a common denominator: man-induced environmental change on local and global scales. The study of this rapidly changing landscape of disease constitutes the new field of Conservation Medicine.
ELA 1115: Nutrition and Health
Food is the substance we take into our bodies to sustain life and maintain optimal health. But too often our food choices run on automatic pilot, unmindful of the consequences for our long-term well-being or the fate of our planetary ecosystem. The epidemic ills of western society (for example, obesity and diabetes mellitus) and global issues (climate change, pollution) are rooted in no small part in our food choices. However, there is a large body of sound science to empower our decisions. This course begins with the physiology of nutrition and digestion. How to design a healthy diet leads into a consideration of the traditional Mediterranean diet of southern Europe. A holistic approach to health begins the second part leading to specific topics in clinical nutrition. Lastly, the connection between food and the environment is explored. The science-based wisdom of a healthy diet is, indeed, the omnivore’s solution; it is easy being green – and it is delicious.
ELA 2012: Natural History of Vermont
This course will initially deal with an examination of Vermont’s climatic and geological history. It will then cover in greater depth, the period from the end of the Pleistocene glaciation to today; from woolly mammoths to the present day flora and fauna of the State including the ecological processes which produced the present vegetative and faunal patterns on the Green Mountains and Taconics. Forest zonation from the Champlain lowlands and the Connecticut River Valley to the tops of the Green Mountains will be surveyed as well as the wetlands. Students will identify and understand the physiographic regions of Vermont, their geology, ecology and influence on Vermont’s flora and fauna. Students will also become familiar with, and be able to identify, representative members of Vermont’s fauna. A final field trip will explore many features of the State discussed during the course.
ELA 2110: Natural Disasters
Humans are fascinated by natural disasters; primarily because we have little ability to control them and are in awe in their power and often, uncontrolled rage. Our lives, economy, environment and feelings of personal security are closely tied to the geologic processes driving these events. This course will examine the processes that cause natural disasters, such as earthquakes, volcanoes, mass wasting, subsidence, flooding, severe weather, erosion, climate change and meteorite impacts. In addition, we will evaluate the effects of these events on global ecology and society, and discuss possible mitigation options.
ELA 3010: Climate Dynamics
This course provides a scientific foundation in climate dynamics through multiple scientific perspectives. We will explore the origins of Earth’s climate system, historical and modern climate change, methods used to identify climate change, global atmospheric and ocean currents, ocean and atmospheric chemistry, natural feedback mechanisms, climate forcing, Earth’s energy budget, evaluate global climate models, and explore proposed technological solutions. The primarily goal of this course is to provide a scientific understanding of the physical and chemical processes governing climate.
ELA- Human Systems
ELA 1023: Contemporary Social Issues
This course concerns major social challenges both inside American society and around the world. It investigates newsworthy events that have occurred within the “living memory” of students and examines them in the context of the social sciences (especially sociology and psychology; also economics, history, and political science). Both liberal and conservative interpretations of the facts are considered, and some resolutions are suggested.
ELA 1027: Simplicity & Sustainability
This course examines the relationship between the satisfaction of individual psychological and economic needs and the ability to live in a way that promotes environmental sustainability. Topics include human needs and motives; the relationship of money to need satisfaction; consumerism and its effects on people and on the environment; different paradigms for the relationship between people and the world; and the voluntary simplicity movement.
ELA 1043: Utopias: Envisioning the Good Society
This course asks students to read, write about, and discuss selected works in utopian literature from the Classical Age to modern times, including historical accounts and primary descriptions of experiments in intentional community. Since utopias are projections of ideal societies, they raise a number of significant questions about the proper role of individuals in their communities, as well as the about the mechanics of personal and collective identity, the dynamics of individuality and conformity, and the tension between freedom and responsibility, within the context of community.
ELA 1123: Energy & Society
Societies throughout history have harnessed different forms of energy for survival and expansion. Today, hundreds of millions of people in the developing world continue to struggle to obtain adequate energy sources to meet basic needs. At the same time affluent societies consume enormous amounts of energy. The US, for example, with just 5% of the global population consumes 25% of the total global energy supplies each year. Furthermore, the combustion of carbon-based energy sources is leading to rapid global climate change, arguably the most critical environmental issue of our times. This course provides students with an historical understanding of energy use over time to better understand our current energy use patterns nationally and globally, the critical cultural and economic issues linked to the energy-environment crisis, and what can be done to change directions toward a sustainable energy future. This course serves as a foundation for additional courses at Green Mountain focusing on energy studies and sustainable design.
ELA 1124: Unraveling Food Systems: Plentitude & Poverty
Although we may define food systems, in the end, they also define us. Food systems are cultural, historical, economic, and ecological. They tend to dictate whether we live in fortune or famine, and both our individual and our cultural choices aggregate into food systems that determine the fate of peoples and ecosystems near and far. This course is an exploration into the complexity of our current food systems, beginning with local food systems and then broadening the inquiry to include regional, state, national, and international food systems. The course will culminate with an examination of the impacts of globalization and vertical integration on different continents.
ELA 1125: Poverty and Inequality in America
This course is a critical analysis of the nature and extent of poverty and inequality in the United States. This course maintains an analytic and descriptive focus on variables tied to poverty among a myriad of different groups and cultures living in the U.S. It will present multiple dimensions of socioeconomic stratification including, but not limited to race, gender, immigration, age, family structure, and individuals with disabilities. The role of policy within the Unites States will be examined.
ELA 2021: Law & Society
Garrett Hardin’s “tragedy of the commons” at least implies that to live together (and to avoid degrading the environment) societies need rules and ways of enforcing them. Where these rules (or laws) come from, how social institutions shape laws, and how laws shape social institutions and affect individuals are the main topics of this course. These issues and questions of justice, equality, and fairness will be examined mainly through the issue of environmental justice and decisions about the locations of locally undesirable land uses (LULUs).
ELA 2023: Environmental Justice
This class is premised on the notion that the problems of earth’s biophysical systems cannot be disentangled from our social and political systems. In this course, students will explore the following questions: Why do certain racial, ethnic, and socio-economic groups bear the burden of environmental pollution? Who decides how natural resources are used and allocated? How have groups of people that have been disproportionately affected by environmental problems organized to address those issues? We examine these questions through case studies of different EJ initiatives, independent research, and collaborative work with community partners. Students will learn basic theories related to environmental justice and grassroots social action by reading and discussion texts, talking with EJ activists, viewing documentaries, and through service to a local community organization. Students will also develop deeper understandings of the history of the environmental justice movement, contemporary and regional EJ issues, and directions forward for the field.
ELA 2024: Introduction to Systems Thinking
This course is for students who want to learn how to intervene in systems in ways that will create more positive results with fewer unintended consequences. This will be a hands-on, active-learning course. We will use experiential simulations and modeling to discover how systems ranging from fisheries and businesses to classrooms and residence halls respond to attempts to bring about beneficial changes. We will also learn about leverage: how small changes in just the right part of a system can produce big results. Students will then design and make a change to a real system and compare the results with the outcomes they intended to produce.
ELA 2026: Indigenous America
This course surveys indigenous cultures of the Americas from interdisciplinary and critical perspectives. From the arrival of humans in the Western Hemisphere, across a chronologically and geographically diverse range of cultural adaptations, and on into the 21st century, students will learn about the dynamic range of prehistoric, historic, and contemporary indigenous experience. Students will also learn to contextualize and challenge representations and interpretations of Native Americans. Along the way, they will identify and assess the underlying assumptions of controversial issues such as cultural appropriation and post-colonial identity politics.
ELA 2027: Conservation Psychology
This course uses theories, models, principles, and methods from the field of psychology to inform intervention strategies that aim to solve environmental problems and encourage conservation of natural resources. Students examine root causes of problems and gain a deeper sense of how to approach issues by understanding the multitude of motivations and cognitive functions that drive human behavior, both sustainable and unsustainable. Particular attention is placed on the study of beliefs, attitudes, values, motivations, information processing, communication, and stewardship behavior.
ELA/ECO 3023: Contemporary Political Economy
This course provides students with a firm foundation in economic theory with particular emphasis on the neoclassical model of market efficiency. With this foundation, students study the subfield of environmental and natural resource economics. Particular emphasis is placed on understanding market failures associated with public goods and externalities along with the policies that the government can use to correct these market failures. The course explores critiques of the neoclassical model of market efficiency and considers emerging concepts in ecological economic and the growing local economies movement. Students assess competing views on the potential for continued economic growth of the macro economy and become familiar with our monetary system and the role of the Federal Reserve. Quantitative skills are developed throughout the course by interpreting data and doing economic analyses.
ELA/ENV 3021: Sustainable Development: Theory & Practice
To alleviate poverty and raise living standards, third world nations need to aggressively pursue economic development. If the resource- and energy-intensive western model of development is followed in these countries severe resource shortages and widespread environmental degradation are likely to ensue. Sustainable development theory has emerged to describe an alternative path to economic development that averts potential resource and environmental crises. This course analyzes these theories and critically evaluates alternative sustainable development policies.
ELA/SOC 3022: Ethnoecology
Ethnoecology, with theoretical roots in cognitive science and environmental anthropology, investigates local, folk systems of knowledge pertaining to plants, animals, and ecological dynamics. Since the 1950s, ethnoecological case-studies around the world have demonstrated the internal coherence, complexity, and adaptiveness of indigenous systems of classification. While this is still a central goal, contemporary ethnoecologists also apply their findings to goals such as the conservation of biological diversity, rural development, sustainable use of common property resources, and negotiation of intellectual property rights. Ethnoecology has therefore also become politicized: we are now interested in how “native” systems of knowledge and behavior are embedded in systems of unequal distribution, access and power.
In this course, students will learn about the theoretical underpinnings and development of approaches to ethnoecology; become acquainted with case-studies from the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Australia; and become trained in basic ethnoecological methods and use them to produce a significant research project and present your findings.
ELA- Aesthetic Appreciation
ELA 1031: Theater: The Audience Environment
This course provides an in-depth look at the theater environment from an informed audience point of view. In the course, students will examine the collaborative nature of a play as a piece of “living literature” in order to identify its shape, conflicts, climax and resolution and how it is adapted to the stage. Plays will be looked at as reflections of our culture and we will question why they ultimately need to be seen and heard to be fully understood. Students will demonstrate an understanding of the components of effective playmaking and will apply these criteria to assess the effectiveness of theatrical productions, viewing both live stage performances and films. Assessments will include discussions, written responses/reviews, projects and scene presentations.
Lab fee: $60 (tickets and transportation)
ELA 1035: The Western Imagination
This course explores masterworks in the art of Western literature that have influenced any disciplines and which have provided fundamental imaginative concepts whose [power has been enduring and pervasive. At times, we will examine how these works have been reinterpreted in other forms that may include the visual arts, film, and music.
ELA 1037: Nature in Music
This course is meant to engage the student in a thoughtful and reflective study of music and its relationship to and through nature. Based loosely on Ethnomusicology, the course will also examine music and its role within diverse cultures. Through guided listening, lectures, written analysis and class participation, students will become familiar with musical genres and instruments that were directly influenced by nature. Exposure to composers inspired by the power of nature will offer students the opportunity to critically listen to and gain insight into the extraordinary impression that nature has had on music. By the end of the semester students will possess a music vocabulary that will enable them to be active listeners and discuss music with others.
ELA 1039: Nature in Theater & Film
This course provides an in-depth look at the theater environment from an informed audience point of view. Students will examine the collaborative nature of a play as a piece of “living literature” in order to identify its shape, conflict, climax and resolution and how it is adapted to the stage. Plays will be looked at as reflections of our culture that are most effective when they subvert the status quo, exposing society’s hidden needs and fears. Productions will be critiqued as mutually observed artistic statements that cause a catharsis (tragic or comic) which ultimately needs to be seen and heard to be fully understood. Students will demonstrate an understanding of the components of effective playmaking and will apply these criteria to assess the effectiveness of theatrical productions, viewing both live stage performances and films and their relevancy to our lives. Assessments will include attendance at four theater productions, discussions, written responses, reviews, group presentations and/or scene presentations.
ELA 1135: The Nature of Design
If design is aesthetically inferior, it will simply be discarded as another obsolete poorly designed object entering the waste stream. Beauty is an essential element in the pursuit of sustainability. In this course, students will learn how to observe the designed world through freehand sketching. They will apply their aesthetic sensibilities to real world hands-on design/build projects. Infused into the design/build process will be a critical understanding of core ecological design principles.
ELA 2032: Stage to Screen: Social Issues in Theater and Film
Students will analyze a series of plays and films dealing with contemporary issues in our society. They will be examined and discussed from the playwright’s viewpoint and compared with a film adaptation of the work and, when applicable, live stage productions. The works will also be looked at from an aesthetic standpoint, examining how casting, character interpretation, setting, dialogue and directorial vision impact the message. Important questions that will be asked include: What was sacrificed and/or enhanced in a different artistic medium? Is the play’s essential message, including conflict, themes and resolution, still clear and effective? How does the presence of a live audience affect one’s personal reaction to a work of art? The plays and films will be divided into topic categories, with classic works ranging from early 20th century to award winning contemporary plays/films which illustrate societal changes in thought and opinion. Categories will include: Academic Life, What makes a Family, Faith in Crisis, Fulfilling (or not) the American Dream.
ELA 2033: Aesthetics: The Interpretations of Beauty in the Arts and Literature
This ELA course will investigate the theories and attitudes toward the idea of beauty in the Western world. By examining literature, the visual arts, evolutionary biology, and some of the more influential theories on the nature of beauty, this class will enable the student to understand more deeply the changing attitudes toward beauty from antiquity to the present.
ELA 2034: Chinese Nature Poetry
The human encounter with nature and wilderness has informed Chinese poetics for over two thousand years. In this course, we will survey the major poets and themes in Chinese nature poetry, emphasizing the poetry of the Tang Dynasty. Students will read multiple English translations of Chinese poems and craft their own translations. Students will also work with a Chinese dictionary to examine the original poems, and learn to write a minimum of 75 Chinese characters. Throughout the course, we will also explore the cultural, historical and religious contexts of the poems.
ELA 2035: Natural Science Illustration
In the DaVincian tradition of Arte/Scienza, natural science illustration seeks the balance between science and art, logic and imagination. This course introduces practical application of interpretative, artistic, qualitative, and quantitative skills to the representation of the natural world in both informal and formal media. Close observation will address the morphology of individual specimens, including their adaptations of form and function to evolutionary niches. Such studies lead directly to the rationale for inclusion in a given taxonomic classification. Specimens in college collections provide the models for learning; substantive papers and the final project will display the successful student’s mastery of images that are both scientifically correct and aesthetically pleasing.
ELA 2036: Latin American Literature and the Environment
This course will consider Latin American literature from the point of view of its relationship with the natural environment, focusing on how various writers depict the natural world in their writing, how their works are shaped by their experience of and beliefs about the natural world, and how these beliefs reflect or interact with the larger social and political context of the time. Beginning with the Popol Vuh and the chronicles of the first Europeans to arrive in Latin America, we will examine the chronological development of interactions with the environment in Latin American literature, ending with 21st century writers who write in full consciousness of the cultural impact of current environmental challenges.
ELA 2037: Dimensions of Music
This course will search out the fundamental questions about the nature of music and our experience of it. Interestingly, many of the philosophers discussed in GMC’s ELA course, Dimensions of Nature, also wrote extensively on music. Indeed, more than the other arts, music perhaps presents the most philosophical questions. Words on music from philosophers and composers from Antiquity to the present will be read.
ELA- Moral Reasoning
ELA 1045: Environmental Ethics
What is the appropriate ethical relationship between humans and nonhuman nature? How should I live in light of my relationships to the natural environment and to other animals? This course is a general introduction to environmental ethics, a branch of philosophy that has emerged as a response to the profound impact of human practices on the natural environment, its ecosystems, and other species. Environmental ethics emerged as a distinct discipline in the late 1970s in the United States, but as a branch of philosophical ethics it draws from highly articulated traditions that reach back to ancient times. The perspectives we will explore in this course are relevant to how you understand yourself and nature, how you act in relation to the more-than-human world, and what policies you will endorse. The purpose of the course is not to answer all the questions we will raise, but to work together to think more perceptively, imaginatively, and effectively about environmental issues.
The following are among the many topics we will explore, often through case studies: global climate change; food production and consumption; population, consumption, and the ecological crisis; energy and ethics; the tragedy of the commons in the world’s oceans; vegetarianism; the great apes, endangered species, and habitat destruction; zoos; and competing environmental philosophies. To help you grapple with issues in contemporary environmental ethics, this course will include a series of “very short lectures” on some key figures and movements in the history of ethics.
ELA 1049: Moral Beliefs: Who’s to Say?
This course explores critical thinking and the formation of beliefs regarding ethical issues that affect our social and physical environment. With a foundation in the history of philosophic reflection, students hone their thinking skills by evaluating and discussing beliefs about timely moral and political issues. Special emphasis will also be placed on students’ ability to create strong arguments and speak articulately about their own critically considered views.
ELA/PHI 3041: Ethical Theory
Where do we derive our conceptions of goodness, and, how do such conceptions shape our moral perspectives regarding values, character and appropriate conduct? In this course we shall ruminate upon this two part question as we examine the ethical theories, metaethical problems and the social, political and environmental issues that define the legacy of moral philosophy. Herein, our reflections will be guided by both primary and secondary sources.
ELA- Historical Contexts
ELA 1057: World History & the Environment
This course examines the relationship between human history and the environment. We will examine how the environment has affected human societies, how the development of human civilization has impacted the environment, and how human attitudes towards the environment have formed and changed over time.
ELA 1058; American Views of the Environment
This course focuses on the history of the American environment. We will examine the historical development of social systems (economic, political, cultural), and how they affected perceptions, usage, management, and conservation of the American environment from pre-colonial times to the present.
ELA/HIS 3054: The Silk Roads
The Silk Roads refer to an extensive network of East-West trade routes that emerged by the first century BCE as commodities, especially silk, from Han China began to reach the Roman Empire. Increased commercial traffic and encounters between various peoples encouraged the spread of ideas, disease, and technology as well. This course will emphasize the trans-ecological, economic, cultural, and biological exchange that linked much of Eurasia and North Africa from the beginning of the Common Era to the late eighteenth century. Major themes in the course include the Central Asian nomads' relationship with the land and with sedentary peoples, the spread of religions along the routes, travel accounts, the emergence of empires, and the maritime trade routes.
ELA/HIS 3055: Chicago: History of a Built Environment
This course examines the development of the built environment of Chicago. As the prototypical U.S. industrial city, the development of Chicago illustrates a number of important facets of urbanization. We will examine how the environment was shaped over time, how that then affected the area’s inhabitants, and then how they responded to the successive changes. Human societies are constantly engaged in a dialogue with the environments that they inhabit, no matter how humanized those environments become.
ELA – The Examined Life
ELA 1061: This Sacred Earth: Spirituality and the Natural World
This course acquaints students with the various ways in which people and cultures approach the earth and the natural world from a spiritual perspective, asking such questions as: Is care for and participation in the natural world a spiritual issue? How do religious communities and spiritual worldviews approach environmental concern? What are the historic roots of our current environmental crisis from a spiritual perspective? This course is designed to be experiential as well as informative. While learning about and discussing various views, beliefs, and practices, we will also experience first-hand a variety of rituals, prayers, meditative and other earth-honoring practices drawing from different religious traditions and from the personal insights of class participants.
ELA 1066: The Vegetarian Lifestyle
This course will explore the philosophical rationale for vegetarian and vegan dietary choices. Areas of practical consideration include animal ethics, health concerns, and environmental protection. There are many considerations that come into play when we make dietary choices. Our approach to these choices can be practical, scientific and/or spiritual and moral in nature. For example, an organic vegan or vegetarian diet can have a positive effect on the treatment of farm animals in the agricultural industry, which is a moral consideration for those who want to avoid causing unnecessary suffering. The purpose of this course is to explore the options and examine the validity of our own dietary choices and the impact of those choices on our health, our community, and our planet.
ELA 1068: Exploring Virtues
Virtues form the basis for how individuals flourish. In this course, we will examine how our connection to other people fosters personal well-being. Indeed, by examining specific virtues in depth through readings, activities and reflection papers, students will experience first hand how fostering virtues affects their lives and their communities.
ELA 1121: Multiculturalism, Diversity Awareness, & Social Justice
This course provides students with an opportunity to explore various facets of multiculturalism and diversity including age, gender, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, ability, social class, and religion. Special emphasis will be placed on how people interact with these facets of diversity in a social environment. Students will explore various social issues including causes and potential solutions for problems caused by prejudice, discrimination, and privilege. In addition, current events related to multiculturalism, diversity, and social justice will be discussed throughout the course.
ELA 1161: Body & Being: Tribal Dance and Spirituality
Engaging body, mind and spirit, this course will explore the art and practice of tribal dance and spirituality and its immense value both as a rich form of growth and self-expression and as a means to greater understanding and appreciation of the self, others, community, and earth. Through thoughtful exploration of a variety of elements, the student will develop a holistic understanding of the beauty and bounty of being available to each of us by means of our embodiment. Class content will include carefully selected texts, lecture, open discussion with peers and instructor, and the discipline and learning of the body in the acquisition of the movements, cues and transitions of tribal dance. There will also be some public performance of this improvisational art. The philosophical approaches will include phenomenology, existentialism, Eastern philosophy, aesthetics, ecophenomenology and ecofeminism.
ELA 2045: International Negotiation
Everyone negotiates but few take the time to study the process and improve their skills. This course is fundamentally a skills based course. You will learn though practice in addition to discussion, readings, and lecture. You will also learn a lot about yourself. Do you listen to others? Do you make unfounded assumptions about others? Do you avoid conflict? The first part of the course helps you build your skills in the art of negotiation. In the second part of the course we examine how negotiations are affected when you deal with parties from different countries or cultures. In the third part of the course we investigate negotiation in cyberspace. In the final portion of the class students will present their research on negotiations with people from a selected country or cultural group. You will engage in regular mock negotiations in class and online with partners in other countries. The only prerequisite is an open mind.
ELA 2065: Homesteader’s Ecology
A Homesteader’s Ecology is an exploration of various value-based approaches to integrating the issues of food, work, and natural resource consumption in a chosen lifestyle that actively works toward addressing and redressing the health of humans and natural ecosystems.