Rob Cole, SEM 2, E 4112 (867-6714); Email: Rob C.
Robert Smurr, SEM 2, C 3112 (867-5056); Email: Rob S.
Office hours are arranged by appointment.
Earth Stewards: Sustainable Living in a Threatened World
(CRN: 222249)  Fall, Winter 2009-10

We humans have a peculiar relationship with the natural world that sustains us.  Just as much as an ant in forest depends upon her surrounding environment for existence, so too are we entirely dependent upon this planet’s ecosystem for our very lives.  Yet by striving to control and transform the natural world, Homo sapiens have historically acted differently from any other species on this planet.  Why have we adopted this behavior, and what have been the consequences of our actions?  Join us in this two term program as we investigate several human-contrived transformations of the natural world.  Share in our quest to understand ecosystem processes, and the environmental history of diverse geographic regions. We will explore human motivations for transformative projects that have despoiled much of the natural world, and identify the most promising methods for environmental remediation, responsible land stewardship, and sustainable and equitable living. 

We will use a systems approach to explore emerging technologies, social behaviors, and alternative practices that will lead us towards a sustainable future and responsible stewardship. Our premise is that our present life-style is not sustainable, but that by understanding the historical and philosophical background of how we arrived at this point, we will be able to make meaningful change. We will explore what it means to live in a place without exploiting other humans or the ecosystem. We will read literature of bioregional thinkers and others who understand how humans connect to the land of a given region. We will examine a number of indicators of local, national and global sustainability, survey what is being done in countries more advanced than the United States, and develop quantitative methods to compare different approaches.

Our initial term will begin with detailed examinations of Washington State's ecosystems and environmental history, and overnight field trips will allow us to explore several distinct regions in person. We will examine the stewardship methods of our regional ancestors, and study future options. Students will do intensive audits of their own consumption practices and ecological footprint, and will have the opportunity to research alternatives. We will connect individual audits with those of the campus as a whole, examining carbon budgets, water budgets, trash budgets and energy budgets.

During winter quarter we will examine regional, national and international issues of sustainability and equity, both in-class and on overnight field trips. With increasing world population and an ever developing ability to dramatically alter our environment, contemporary human society is also radically transforming the planet in non-historic ways.  Our primary goal will be to study some of these transformations and explore possible paths towards creating a more sustainable, and more enlightened future. Students can expect to work with a variety of sustainability concepts including biomimicry, The Natural Step, cradle-to-cradle design, renewable materials, and sustainable food systems.

Weekly seminars, lectures, workshops, field studies, critical film viewing, and several overnight fieldtrips will help us to integrate our textual analyses with hands-on fieldwork.  Travel and fieldwork are integral and required aspects of this year-long program, thus students are expected to participate in all fieldtrips, including several overnight trips. In workshops and class presentations, students can expect to sharpen their critical reasoning skills, their writing and speaking ability, and their ability to work with quantitative methods and to interpret quantitative data from a variety of sources.

This program is preparatory for careers and future studies in history, environmental history, ecology, resource management, political ecology, environmental science, geography, community ecology and sustainability.  Credit can be awarded in: Environmental History and Literature, Environmental Studies, History of the Pacific Northwest, Basic Ecology, Methods and Practices of Sustainability, Introduction to Systems Science, Field Methods, and Geography.  

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Whidbey Island Fieldtrip
February 2010
Presentation by Matthew Treebirch

If you have a health condition or disability that may require accommodations in order to effectively participate in this class, please do one of the following:
- Contact the faculty after class
- Contact Access Services in Library 1407-D; 867-6348, or pickeril@evergreen.edu
Information about a disability or health condition will be regarded as confidential.

Evergreen is a smoke free campus, excluding the several designated smoking areas. If you do smoke, consider quitting. If you choose not to, please use the designated areas only.  Students willfully disregarding this campus policy will be asked to leave the program.

All of our field trips are completely drug and alcohol free, and smoking will be strictly regulated.  As many of our field trips will last for several days, be certain that you have the ability to refrain from all of these activities during the entire period.  Students disregarding any aspect of this policy will no longer be considered participants of the field trip and will be required to fund their own return trip to Evergreen.  

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