Inquiry into the fundamental changes occurring in the natural environment (including humans) and in human social systems and culture, to explore the question
"To what extent, in what ways and why are current trends in human impacts on the environment and social relations unsustainable/sustainable?"
The seminar will introduce the major contrasting responses being made to this question along with their differing scenarios of the future in terms of their visions, strategies, and examples of practices to be pursued.
Learning resources will be selected from four types of information:
- documentation of innovative environmental, social (including economic and political) and technological practices and
- personal experiences and commitments.
Religions to be considered include those of Native Americans and other indigenous peoples as well as world religions, e.g., Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. The consideration of spirituality is based on individuals' experiences and recognition of "sacred" or "ultimate" realities that are variously understood and characterized.
Students will be asked to engage in interdisciplinary, seminar-based inquiry through reading and thinking critically, reflecting on and analyzing their own values, beliefs and practices, sharing the results of their own inquiries through discussions, writing, and presentations and by comparing and contrasting their own beliefs and ideas with others who have different backgrounds and current values, beliefs, and goals.
It is expected that students enrolling in this seminar will have differing backgrounds of knowledge and experience in relation to the environment, science, religion / spirituality, and unsustainability / sustainability. Both students with religious commitments are welcome as well as students who are agnostics, atheists or who would describe themselves as secular humanists, skeptics, and “undecided" or by some other name for their highest values and related belief systems and practices. This opportunity for participatory inquiry will require enrolled students to engage in respectful dialogue along with acceptance of people with backgrounds and present commitments and beliefs that are different from their own.