2010-11 Catalog

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Offering Description

Student-Originated Studies: Action for a Sustainable Future

Fall quarter

Faculty: Ted Whitesell geography, environmental studies

Fields of Study: community studies, environmental studies, government, law and government policy, law and public policy, leadership studies, political science, sustainability studies and writing

Fall: CRN (Credit) Level 10510 (16) Jr - Sr; 10617 (1-16)  Signature Required Students must submit samples of written work and at least one letter of recommendation from former college instructor. For more information, see the Effective Action program web page or contact Ted Whitesell (867-6768, whiteset@evergreen.edu). Applications received by the Academic Fair, May 12, 2010, will be given priority. Qualified students will be accepted until the program fills.  

Credits: 16(F)

Class Standing: Junior - Senior

Offered During: Day

Academic Website: http://blogs.evergreen.edu/action/

Prerequisites: one year of college-level environmental studies.


Students will work together to learn to how to be effective public activists able to intervene in complex social-ecological issues to foster sustainability and justice. They will share their insights by writing a book for their peers, for publication both in print and digitally. In addition, they will create a web site housing a database of case studies illustrating relevant policy, strategy and tactics. This web site will also serve as a communications center for activists and for those studying activism. Attention will focus on ethical, personal and social consequences of choices about how to think and act in situations of uncertainty, complexity, conflict and stress, and how to live effectively in potentially despair-inducing times. The program will train students for leadership roles in government, private and non-profit organizations; support them in living fulfilled lives in difficult circumstances; and build communities of mutual support.  As an SOS, students will also learn how to manage a significant team project.

To develop understanding of public policy and political change, we will focus on the topic of the transition to sustainable energy in Washington State. Within this topic, we will examine local, contentious, ongoing cases in detail, beginning with controversies over the coal-fueled power plant in Centralia. Students will attend meetings of organizations and legislative committees, interview participants, research issue history, and study interactions of biophysical, social, economic and political components. Analysis will be informed by interdisciplinary readings on political theory, practical and ethical aspects of individual and collective action, complex systems, ecology and Earth processes, and environmental analysis.

During fall quarter, we will gain the needed factual and theoretical foundation, complete an in-depth analysis of the Centralia power plant case, outline the book and web site, and establish communications with peers elsewhere. Winter quarter will center on fieldwork, researching and drafting chapters on current contentious cases. Spring quarter will involve extensive editing, rewriting and assembly of the final products.

Students will gain skills in writing; editing; oral presentation; communication in print and e-book formats; qualitative social science research; social-ecological complex systems science; oral history; policy analysis; understanding political organizing, negotiation, mediation, lobbying and decision making; and collaborative work on a large-scale project. There will be the opportunity to explore conflict, engagement and reconciliation; and training in the martial art of Aikido as a practice of working with conflict.

Maximum Enrollment: 12

Required Fees: Fall $130 for an overnight field trip.

Internship Possibilities: winter or spring internship options with private, public or non-governmental organizations

Research Possibilities: historical and contemporary public policy research.

Preparatory for studies or careers in: leadership, government, and private and non-profit organizations.

Campus Location: Olympia

Online Learning: Enhanced Online Learning

Books: www.tescbookstore.com

Program Revisions

Date Revision
December 2nd, 2010 This program is now ending after fall quarter.
November 8th, 2010 Admission requirements for Winter quarter have been updated.