2011-12 Catalog

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Offering Description

Lights Out


Spring 2012 quarter

Bret Weinstein biology
Fields of Study
agriculture, anthropology, botany, consciousness studies, field studies, outdoor leadership and education, physics, physiology, somatic studies, sustainability studies and zoology
Preparatory for studies or careers in
science and life.
Students should have some practical experience relevant to the program's objectives. Such experience can have involved the designing or building structures, coordinating groups of people, designing or building functional machines.

Complex systems can fail catastrophically. Resent catastrophic failures (such as the global financial collapse of 2008, the Gulf oil spill of 2010 and the Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011) hint at the overall fragility of the systems on which civilization presently depends. Many have wondered if the larger system might be equally vulnerable to a major disruption.

This program proceeds from a thought experiment: What if the lights went out and didn’t come back on? What if the gas stations ran dry and no one came to refill them? What if the store shelves went bare and stayed that way?

The immediate effect would be unavoidably chaotic, disastrous and tragic. But from the chaos would likely emerge groups of people who had figured out how to provide for themselves.

How would those groups be organized? What would they understand? What technologies of the past would they have resurrected, and in what form? What newer technologies would they work to retain? How would they use the rubble of modernity to enhance their lives. What would they eat and drink? How would they stay warm and fed in the winter? Would large-scale social organization arise organically, from the bottom up? How would the answers to these question differ by region?

This program will not happen at the front of the room. The faculty will not present answers to these questions. The learning community will confront them together, with analytical rigor proportional to the scenario under consideration. As much as possible, we will attempt to prototype answers in the physical world, and let our successes and failures guide us toward a toolkit for survival.

This program is not for passive students, or for those that prefer to stay in the abstract or metaphorical layers. It will require students to be both hard workers and careful thinkers. Students must be bold, collaborative and willing to rise to a serious challenge.

Academic Website
Online Learning
No Required Online Learning
Greener Store
Required Fees
$200 for a week-long field trip.
Special Expenses
$150 for supplies involved in prototyping novel solutions.
Upper Division Science Credit
Upper division science credit is available in cases where students show exceptional analytical rigor born out by tangible demonstrations of novel mechanisms with utility in a post civilized world.
Offered During

Program Revisions

Date Revision
February 28th, 2012 New program added.