Legacy of the American Dream: People, Power and Nature
Revised Last Updated: 12/03/2008
Fall and Winter quarters
Faculty Signature Required: Winter quarter
Major areas of study include political science, economics, physical and cultural geography, anthropology, environmental policy, research writing, geographic information systems, and quantitative reasoning.
Class Standing: This Core program is designed for freshmen.
Accepts Winter Enrollment: This program will accept new students who have appropriate background. Contact Ralph Murphy (360-867-6430) over the break. New students should expect to complete some work over the winter break. A portion of this program is available as an 8 credit option.
Since the founding of the Republic, Americans have seen themselves as blessed with a bountiful environment. Abundance of land, water, forest, farmlands, wildlife and wilderness defined America until westward expansion concluded in the early 20th century. Capitalism transformed the country from an agrarian society into an industrial power. Democracy adapted to changing demands and expectations, and the Constitution proved to be a framework of governance capable of accommodating dramatic changes in society. The American dream became a beacon that continues to attract new immigrants to this country. These images of being American have been popularized and communicated by various forms of media throughout our history.
Yet, America also contains awkward tensions and contradictions. Many Americans – of all races, ethnicities and national origins – historically, and to this day, have neither achieved equality nor escaped poverty. Nature has been subjected to intense exploitation in the search for riches. Agricultural lands have lost productivity from poor farming practices, and industrial pollution has fouled waterways, soil and the air. Pollution has most often affected the people who are least able to afford the protections used by the prosperous, leaving a legacy of concerns about environmental health.
This program will explore how America created a system of abundance and environmental protection, and a system of inequality and environmental destruction. Central questions include: What were the patterns of development in the nation's first two centuries? What are the prospects and challenges in our third century?
Our exploration of these themes will focus on the interactions of humans and nature and how we historically and presently understand these interactions. In doing this, we want to develop a critical understanding of how various forms of communication have influenced decision-makers and the public. We will learn to interpret various forms of writing including scientific, fiction, news and media, nature writing, environmental impact statements, legislative initiatives, and bureaucratic forms of communication. We will learn to read and create maps with the use of geographic information systems, atlases, and demographic data. Our analysis will be assisted by political science, economics, environmental history, physical and cultural geography, and anthropology.
Written and verbal communication skills will be emphasized, as well as qualitative and quantitative reasoning and environmental problem solving. This program is intended for freshmen and provides a basis for further work in the natural and social sciences, as well as environmental studies.
The 8-credit part-time program is a part of the 16-credit full-time program. Students enrolling for 8 credits will participate in the shared elements of the full-time program. Class meeting times for the 8-credit option are: Mondays 1pm-3pm, Thursdays 10am-12pm and 1pm-4pm, and Fridays 10am-12pm.
A lecture series will cover American government and political economy, the geography of the Pacific Northwest, and land use planning. In addition, students will also participate in weekly computer labs for an introduction to demographic and spatial analysis. These labs cover the basics of Excel, census data and a limited introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Students will be evaluated on attendance, completion of assignments, and exams.
Credits: 16 per quarter
Program is preparatory for careers and future studies in environmental problem solving in both the public and private sector, science, social sciences, the humanities and education.
|May 2nd, 2008||Jennifer Gerend has joined the faculty team for this program.|
|December 3rd, 2008||Winter enrollment details added; 8-credit option added.|