Spring Semester in California
FIELDS OF ABUNDANCE: SUSTAINABLE CULTURE & AGRICULTURE
The food we eat and how we grow it has tremendous impact on our personal health and the health of the planet. Modern industrial agricultural practices have made food abundant and cheap. At the same time, they have led to numerous negative consequences such as aquifer depletion, soil loss, ocean dead zones, the loss of family farms and farm communities, and the production of global greenhouse gases, among others. This semester investigates alternative practices that produce healthy food, healthy communities, healthy soils, and healthy ecosystems. Naturally, water gets a lot of attention.
This will be a semester about growing food and growing ourselves and our worldviews as we delve into the stories of the land and the people of California. Our explorations will reveal the myriad aspects of our relationships with food production and consumption, the land it is grown on, and the people engaged in the processes. We will be meeting inspiring farmers, activists, and educators, learning more about this ecologically and biologically diverse state, seeking to understand the complexities of the social and natural systems that support planetary well-being.
WHAT YOU WILL LEARN
Spring Semester Course Descriptions for Undergraduates and Gap Year Students
Leading and Learning for Transformation and Resilience
Interdisciplinary course designed to fulfill social science, education, or environmental studies requirements – 3 credits
This course surveys models of education and leadership and their roles in the sustainability movement. It also introduces the holistic, experiential, and progressive education model used by the Expedition Education Institute. The living and learning community provides an excellent opportunity for individuals to develop their skills and practices as leaders, learners, and advocates. Through experience, action, and reflection, students collaboratively explore transformative approaches to education and being the change.
Learning Community as Personal and Social Change
Interdisciplinary course designed to fulfill social science, education, outdoor leadership, psychology, or environmental studies requirements – 3 credits
Explores the learning community model and its influence on one’s personal well?being, community, and culture. Students learn group development theory and practice facilitation, decision making, cooperative communication, and conflict resolution skills. They become skilled in outdoor community living and learning. Trust, including the honoring of our commitments to one another, emerges as a foundation of our efforts. Students develop experiential and intellectual foundations necessary to establish learning communities in other settings.
Culture and the Environment
Interdisciplinary course designed to fulfill social science, anthropology, sociology, human ecology, or environmental studies requirements – 3 credits
Cultures shape the ways humans interact with the land, and historically, they have been closely adapted to their local environment. Students investigate the ways that culture can support a sustainable society by exploring dominant US culture, regional subcultures and past and present local indigenous cultures. We look especially at the implied environmental ethics of cultural practices and beliefs. Students consider approaches to changing our culture to promote sustainability and whether their own unexamined beliefs and actions are in line with their environmental values.
Sustainable Solutions and Food Policy
Interdisciplinary course designed to fulfill environmental science, environmental studies, or sustainability requirements – 3 credits
The ways in which we grow, process, and distribute food have profound environmental, health, and social impacts. We investigate agricultural practices–both conventional and alternative–and how they can promote healthy humans, a healthy environment, and healthy communities. We look at how agricultural policies shape the current system and how alternative policies might lead to more sustainable practices. We use systems thinking approaches to understand the complexity of modern agriculture, which lies at the intersection of ecology, economics, and culture.
Natural History and (Agro)Ecology: A Systems Approach
Interdisciplinary course designed to fulfill natural science, ecology, or environmental studies requirements – 3 credits
In this course we examine natural systems using both a traditional scientific approach and a deep ecological perspective to illuminate the inter-relationship of all life. We pay special attention to understanding the ecological basis of agriculture as a path to creating sustainable food systems. Living within and studying a variety of natural and man-made ecosystems in California, students learn about biological diversity and the forces that shape the complex interdependence of the living and non-living world. Students also work to know and develop their personal, emotional, and ethical relationships with the natural world.
Each course is designed to earn 3 credits, with the full semester program designed to earn 15 credits for enrolled undergraduate students.
The five courses are a package deal; they cover the breadth and depth of our experiences, supporting each individual and the whole learning community to extend the learning beyond what is possible through single modes of learning in separate courses.