January 1, 2010, 8:22 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

FWS – new students encouraged and accepted in Winter

Winter Fees: $140 (program retreat and special readings)

Sarah Williams, williasa@evergreen.edu

Jules Unsel, unselj@evergreen.edu

Guest Lecturers: Bill Bruner, Tom Maddox

How is it that so-called modernized cultures organize around the questionable principle that money buys happiness? While individuals, families, organizations and nations function in many different and competing value systems, under capitalism money appears to have and to create global value. But does it?  For whom doesn’t it?  How does money work?  What does money mean?  What can money buy, what can’t it?

In this all-year, lower-division program, we are juxtaposing the history and contemporary function of money with diverse cultural and historical understandings of spiritual worth and the human soul.  Using three epistemological categories: nature, religion, and science, we’ll frame a series of interdisciplinary case studies of specific goods and services.

The continuity of our program across the year rests on its larger examination of the rituals and necessities of money-making, money-spending, and commodities consumerism in contemporary American society.  This examination comes always from an awareness of the human soul, an inquisitiveness as to its nature, and a desire to reconcile our soulful selves with the thick materialism of our own life situations.

In Fall, we juxtaposed instruction in personal finance and research methods with experiential activities that draw on theories and practices from Constellation and yoga traditions.  With this grounding, we explored the value of money and the worth of the soul in relation to three case studies presented by faculty:  the hamburger, the wilderness, and the arts.

During Winter, we’ll build on our fall experiences to explore the phenomenon of branding in contemporary consumer culture.  We’ll ask:  What does branding mean?  What functions and needs does it serve in human consciousness?  How is brand loyalty created?  Where do such loyalties and needs intersect the soul?  That is, what are we really trying to buy when we buy the things we love?

Major projects will include student-directed, team research projects, for case studies, in the valuation and attribution of meaning to commodities, brands, and consumer practices.  We’ll use analyses from advertising, economics, consciousness studies, and contemplative practices to develop case studies for items such as, World of Warcraft, the iPod, Coca Cola, etc.  Students will expand one of their case studies into a narrative college writing project using the MLA handbook.

We will use our studies to frame two experiential activities, an Evergreen alumni lecture series and a contemplative practice retreat. The lecture series will feature alumni who use their Evergreen educations to create successful businesses.  The retreat will be with Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, February 5-7, Gwinwood Retreat Center, Hicks Lake, in Lacey, WA.

In Spring, students will have the opportunity to pursue individual or small group case studies as well as internships and community service projects that build on the types of engagement demonstrated by Evergreen alumni in our Winter entrepreneurs lecture series.

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