Teaching two brand spanking new courses for L&CS this spring semester

Reading the likes of Azedah Moaveni’s Lipstick Jihad, Fareed Zakaria’s Post-American World, Jared Diamond’s Collapse, and revisiting Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma for two new classes I’m teaching within Saint Mary’s College’s Liberal & Civic Studies Program. Students are coming to me in class proud about how conversant they’re getting concerning world politics, global matters, and environmental issues. I must confess, I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut during class discussions. Its hard to keep silent when the readings and subjects are so stimulating.

122 Environmental Responsibility in a Global Community 

Taken the semester immediately following L&CS 121 whenever possible, this courses focuses on the natural world in which we lie, and the complex interrelationship between human activities, the values which determine these activities and their consequences for the environment. Different societies’ belief systems along with their responsibilities and attitudes toward the environment are examined. Students are required to devote time each week to a service-learning project, write essays, intellectual integrations and a self-assessment. Class sessions are supplemented by a biweekly activity lab. Prerequisites: L&CS 121, English 5, Collegiate Seminar 20/110. 

123 Modern Global Issues

The purpose of this course is to gain broad-based exposure to some of the cultural, political and economic issues related to and arising from the processes of globalization. Students will study recent critical dialogues and philosophies of globalization, including issues of ethnicity/race, gender, identity, urban culture, post-nationalism, multiculturalism and post-colonial studies. Students are require to participate in class, lead discussion, write essays and news articles responses, give an oral presentation and complete a midterm exam.   Prerequisite:L&CS 121 or permission of instructor.

We’ve watched some of the following videos to supplement subjects and texts recently covered:

Slajov Zizek on “Cultural Capitalism:

Hans Rosling on “The Magic Washing Machine”

Saving the Bay Documentary

Summertime Rolling with Central and Nor Cal Camping

My aunt asked for camping suggestions between Los Angeles and San Francisco, preferably along the coast, and, for now, California is under no short supply of beautiful spots to pitch a tent however at least seventy state parks are currently under threat of being shuttered permanently.

Though summer may not feel as fierce and fiery as we’d wish, there’s no time like the present to soak up all the golden state has to offer. Below is a list of the parks that I’ve been hankering to visit or enjoyed the pleasure of their beauty during past jaunts.

Central Coast

Big Basin, Santa Cruz, everyone says this is the place to go, but we’ve yet to visit.

Henry Cowell, Santa Cruz, we stayed here two years ago. Very nice facility with trails right next to the campsites

Half Moon Bay State Beach

Henry Coe State Park– haven’t camped here but have hiked. Huge park, great trails, a relative short drive off the 5, near Gilroy. I’d love to go back and trek the wilderness here.

San Simeon State Park

Morro State Park

Morro Strand State Beach– we stayed here ages ago. It’s right on the beach. Beautiful area.

Lake Nacimiento


Big Sur

Pfieffer State Park– on the eastern side of the highway, so all beach access requires a car, huge park that runs alongside a creek. Great facility. We stayed here three years ago and are going back this September.

Riverside Campground- We stayed here last year, park runs along the Big Sur river and they provide tubes if you want to go tubing down the river. No trails from the park, so you have to drive, and the site is right off the highway, so you can hear cars drive by, but the traffic stops by 10pm.

Limekiln and Kirk Creek– right on the headlands next to the Pacific, these sites are at the very southern foot of Big Sur. We went hiking on some of the trails last year, its relatively flat but absolutely gorgeous views of the ocean.

Bay Area

Samuel P. Taylor, Central Marin- inland park in the middle of redwoods with a creek throughout.

**Some of these parks may be closing by this fall. Check the California State Park Foundation for a complete list of closures and consider taking some action to keep our gems open to the public.

For kicks, take a virtual tour of our favorite haunt, our home away from home, Big Sur:

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Harper’s Magazine is on a roll

More greatness from Harper’s Magazine, “Plato’s World” published Sunday, June 6, 2009.

In Plato’s day, the world itself seemed boundless beyond comprehension, its resources inexhaustible, and the dangers and wonders of nature were a test for human knowledge. With the passage of time, humanity has grown much more conscious of the finite nature of the earth and its resources. And with time, Plato’s conceptualization of the earth as a living creature has also become a more appealing model–it pointed the way to discovery of the ecological systems by which the world breathed, moved, transformed and regenerated itself. Today humanity approaches final mastery of the world–but what does this mean for the world-soul and for humanity’s ultimate survival in its terrestrial setting?

“George Harrison went to India and brought back a sitar”

Just the shot in the arm needed for inspiration, Terence McNally on his KPFK show, Free Forum, has introduced the source of holistic, systems thinking and the mastermind behind the philosophy of Ecological Awareness, Fritjof Capra. His work seems to have inspired much admired writers, activists, and social workers such as Leny Mendoza Strobel and her new Center for Babaylan Studies.

Will have to crack open this new universe and explore fully, but for now, here’s a small audio tasting. Capra interviewed by Terrence McNally, April 7, 2009

http://64.27.15.184/parchive/mp3/kpfk_090407_120100freeforum.mp3

and…

Abstract from “A Crisis of Perception” |  Integral Studies | Thomas Maxwell | University of Vermont:

Ecological Awareness

This widening of our “circle of understanding and compassion” requires a new mode of perception which transcends the illusion of separateness to discern the unity, the “unbroken wholeness” from which emerges the diverse forms of existence. This awakened perception gives rise to a more integrative, holistic, and ecological perception of the cosmos. Capra (1996) asserts that this emerging holistic worldview, which he calls “deep ecological awareness”, “recognizes the fundamental interdependence of all phenomena and the fact that, as individuals and societies, we are all embedded in (and ultimately dependent on) the cyclical processes of nature” (p 6). Although this vision can be elaborated through science, its principal grounding is in spiritual experience. It will require an integrated epistemology that embraces both the rational knowledge of scientific empiricism and the inner knowledge of spiritual experience. “Ultimately, deep ecological awareness is spiritual or religious awareness. When the concept of the human spirit is understood as the mode of consciousness in which the individual feels a sense of belonging, of connectedness, to the cosmos as a whole, it becomes clear that ecological awareness is spiritual in its deepest essence. It is not surprising that the emerging new vision of reality based on deep ecological awareness is consistent with the so-called Perennial Philosophy of spiritual traditions, whether we talk about the spirituality of Christian mystics, that of Buddhists, or the philosophy and cosmology underlying the Native American traditions” (p. 7). This “deep ecological awareness” fosters a vision of the cosmos as fundamentally sacred.

Capra’s universe is fortuitously right next door, to boot!

The Center for Ecoliteracy is dedicated to education for sustainable living.

We provide information, inspiration, and support to the vital movement of K-12 educators, parents, and other members of the school community who are helping young people gain the knowledge, skills, and values essential to sustainable living.

We base our work on these four guiding principles:

  • Nature is our teacher
  • Sustainability is a community practice
  • The real world is the optimal learning environment
  • Sustainable living is rooted in a deep knowledge of place