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Cultural and Educational Foundations of Ecological Issues

This course is designed to provide the learner with an understanding of and framework for thinking about the intimate connection between social injustice and ecological degradation.  This will entail an examination of the history and philosophical foundations of modern industrial culture and the dominant scientific worldview as well as the ways in which this culture and worldview impact human communities and relations between humans and the non-human natural world.

Ego vs. Eco Diagram

Students will be asked to consider the ways in which language, culture, and social institutions can undermine or enhance the interdependence between humans and other living systems or foster greater bio-diversity, equitable relationships, and sustainable practices.

More specifically, students will:

  • Discuss the impact of a globalized economy on human and non-human communities; the relationship between poverty, global inequity and environmental degradation; the distribution of resource use and conflicts between the global North and global South; ecological processes, earth democracy and the relationship of these issues in our personal lives.
  • Examine how modern Western philosophy and Newtonian science have reinforced an anthropocentric and mechanistic understanding of the relationship between humans and nature and have impacted life for both human and non-human communities.
  • Understand the ways in which anthropocentrism and a mechanistic understanding of life are intimately interconnected with socially constructed hierarchies around gender, race, class, and the non-human.
  • Apply these concepts and personalize the historical material, by studying a specific local “artifact” such as a commodity, a textbook, a business, or a resource
  • Consider the re-localization approach and examine ways in which local communities are generating alternatives to those aspects of globalization that are seen to be unjust, disempowering, and even ecologically destructive.
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