ENVIRON 139 - First-Year Seminar in the Environment
Section: 020 Environment, Religions, Spirituality and Sustainability
Term: FA 2010
Subject: Program in the Environment (ENVIRON)
Department: LSA Environment
Course Note:
Seminar on environmental topics for first-year students.
Requirements & Distribution:
FYSem, Theme
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
Advisory Prerequisites:
Enrollment restricted to first-year students, including those with sophomore standing.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

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:

  1. scientific,
  2. religious/spiritual,
  3. documentation of innovative environmental, social (including economic and political) and technological practices and
  4. 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.

ENVIRON 139 - First-Year Seminar in the Environment
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
M 4:00PM - 5:30PM
W 4:00PM - 5:30PM
003 (SEM)
TuTh 10:00AM - 11:30AM
020 (SEM)
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM
Note: Seats in First Year Seminars are opened gradually during Summer Orientation. Only 1st-yr students, including those with soph std, may register.
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

Coursepack Location:
to be determined and announced in class
Strongly suggest: (1) You consider sharing required books with one other person and that you seek much less expensive copies through the internet; at the beginning of the term assignments will first be made from the Gardner text that you will need in the first week(2) do not purchase an optional book until they are discussed in class but consider browsing them in a book store or on the net; if you decide to purchase one share it with one or two other students and consider looking for a used copy. These suggestions are based on reusing resources and minimizing your costs.
ISBN: 0393328325
Inspiring progress : religions' contributions to sustainable development, Author: Gardner, Gary T., 1958-, Publisher: W.W. Norton 2006
ISBN: 9780393337266
State of the World 2010, Author: Erik Assadourian, Publisher: Worldwatch/Norton 2010
ISBN: 9781590305836
Mindfully Green, Author: Stephanie Kaza, Publisher: Shambhala 2008
ISBN: 9781573242967
Luminous mind : meditation and mind fitness, Author: Joel and Michelle Levey., Publisher: Conari Press 2006
ISBN: 0759636613
Communing with nature : a guidebook for enhancing your relationship with the living earth, Author: John L. Swanson., Publisher: Illahee Press 2001
possible course pack to be shared by a group of students that will be announced in the first week of classes
Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

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