Timothy Lincoln, Geology
Climate change, soaring fuel costs, loss of biodiversity, and exponential population growth are among the indicators that we are pressing the limits of our planet to sustain simultaneous economic and population growth. Estimates suggest that it would take five planets to sustain the world's population if everyone lived like the average American...and the standard of living is rising rapidly in some of the world's most populous nations. Against this challenging background, this seminar introduces students to the hopeful solutions offered by the sustainability movement. We will look at human impact on the planet and then learn to estimate our individual environmental footprints. We will move on to discuss easy things such as recycling, more appropriate diet, and simple energy conservation measures that can dramatically lessen our impact. We will also explore the connections between sustainable living and healthful living. Finally, we will examine calls for regional, national, and international reorientation toward sustainability. Grounded in some basic texts, videos, and lectures, much of this class is experiential. Activities include estimating and working to lower our individual footprints, helping with projects in the College's E-House, visiting local sources of food, exploring local healthful recreational opportunities, and touring energy efficient homes in Michigan.
For more information, contact Dr. Tim Lincoln, Institute for the Study of the Environment, Albion College, Albion MI 49224. Phone (517) 629-0486 – e-mail
Art and the Environment
Drs. Billie Wickre and Doug White, Biology
In 1987, Surrounded Islands by Christo and Jeanne-Claude Christo made headlines because of the environmental damage the piece caused in Biscayne Bay, despite the artists' attempts to anticipate the environmental impact of the piece. Subsequently, artists, critics and environmentalists have debated the ethics and advisability of art that interacts with or disrupts nature. In this course, an art historian and a biologist will lead students through the issues associated with contemporary art that interacts with the environment. Participants in the course will examine a range of art works designed to enhance, interact with or sustain the natural environment. They will become better critical thinkers, readers, writers and speakers on the complex subject of human interaction with the environment, and will become familiar with a rich and varied number of artistic productions and a body of scholarship in the area of environmental art. Finally, students will produce a collaborative piece of environmental art. Students will work in the classroom, the library, the science lab, the computer labs and the art studios of the College, and in the natural environment.
A Sense of Place: Albion and the American Dream
Dr. Wesley Dick
Are you curious about the community of Albion which hosts the College and which will be your host city for the next four years? Do you know that Albion was selected as an All-American City in 1973? In fact, Albion mirrors many of the central themes of American History--"the good, the bad and the ugly." This course explore the American experience using Albion and Michigan history as case studies. Topics will include: Indians and the Michigan "Trail of Tears"; pioneers and the Michigan frontier; the Underground Railroad, the birth of the Republican Party, and the Civil War; Sojourner Truth, Madelon Stockwell, Anna Howard Shaw and the women's rights movement; the movement of jobs from farm to factory; the history and impact of ethnic and cultural diversity; the Great Depression; World War II; the Civil Rights Era; economic boom and bust; environmental pollution and environmental activism; and contemporary community problems and strengths. An anticipated bonus will be the opportunity to acquire an extended family, namely the people of Albion met through the course. A field trip to Washington, D.C. is planned. In the seminar and on the road, our class will be on a journey in search of "Albion and the American Dream."
The Crucial Generation
In October 2000, Earth's human population reached and quickly passed six billion people. Since then, we have increased by 10 percent, to more than 6.6 billion. In other words, we added twice the total population of the United States in only seven years. Our numbers may stabilize at about 10 billion around the year 2050--or they may not. Experts suggest our planet may not be able to support that many people. Some claim this will lead to global ecosystem collapse, and the near or perhaps complete annihilation of the human race and many other species. Others dismiss such predictions as groundless doomsday hysteria. In this course students will ask and be asked difficult questions. Will our numbers continue to increase? What responsibility do we have as individuals for the future state of the planet? Can science, technology, and the marketplace solve the problem? Or are there other necessary factors and influences? Perhaps most importantly, can we build (or have we already built) a society that will remain in a sustainable equilibrium with the earth's ecosystems for the very long term? To begin our search for answers, we'll turn to some of the most exciting thinkers of our time, read their thoughts, critique them in open discussion and respond with our own perspectives in writing. These fascinating explanations of our past and present and predictions for our future challenge our common assumptions and force us to carefully rethink our place in the world. Finally, each student will study an aspect of sustainable culture and share his/her findings with the class in as creative a manner as possible.