Many of us want to effect positive change in today’s world.  We want to make good personal choices and we want to connect with others in communities of action regionally and even globally.  This year-long program will help us explore the challenges inherent in pursuing sustainable living in today’s world and offer concrete tools to move toward a positive global future.  Based on the idea that effective community action stems from careful self-reflection, the program will focus on a simultaneous journey inward as well as outward.

Sustainability as we understand it today is embedded in the belief systems and practices of many traditional societies.  In this program, our work will be guided primarily by one such system:  The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.  This ancient philosophical system is still profoundly relevant today.  The Sutras teach that, with practice, we can transform ourselves. We will explore this philosophical system and its code of conduct in-depth, investigating personal, societal, political, environmental and global themes of sustainability. We will consider ways to make sustainable choices through a regular inquiry of our assumptions about ourselves and the world with an eye towards the creation of a sustainable society.

We will develop our understanding of sustainability through lectures, disciplinary workshops, films, and a series of guest speakers. Students will engage in weekly critical book seminars, regular writing assignments, in-depth research and writing projects, independent and collaborative work, and regular program discussion.  In addition, much of the work will be highly experiential, using radical personal accountability and a rigorous examination of the habits of the mind to explore the body as a micro-organism of the outer natural world. Practice, an important concept in many spiritual traditions around the world, is a central theme in the program. Weekly yoga and awareness classes, workshops, self-reflective writing and other expressive arts practices will provide opportunities for students to examine their own habitual patterns of behavior and develop insight into new ways of being.  No experience in yoga is necessary. This program is suitable for any interested student.  Students will also engage in regular, extensive community service.

In Fall quarter, students will be introduced to basic concepts in sustainability and personal leadership.  We will examine and experiment with personal practices in the areas of food, consumption and spending   Students will begin to generate ideas for projects that integrate sustainability issues, which will be developed over the course of the program.  In Winter quarter, we will focus on themes of transportation and energy use in the context of climate change, examining local community responses. Students will work on their research projects.   In Spring quarter, we will examine case studies on successful sustainability initiatives in a variety of cultures around the world.  Students will have the chance to work globally or locally applying what they have learned fall and winter to a project of their choice.  These projects could include research, field studies, or extensive community service locally or abroad.

This program will change your life.

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