Painting the college green: An environmental education framework for college: Part 4: Two courses for Third Year College

In this part we focus on two required courses suggested for all Third Year college students.

 

Semester V

EcoUniv i-1501: My Profession and the Environment

Prerequisites: EcoUniv 1301, 1302, 1401, 1402

 

This course will examine the place of the student’s own chosen profession (i.e. major or branch) in the context of man-nature relationship.

Naturally, the syllabus and content of such a course will vary greatly across majors. Students from Mechanical Engineering, Architecture, Teaching, Fine Arts, and Computer Science will have very different things to discuss when it comes to accessing the impact their profession has on the environment.

Here I have provided a generic concept note on the course which may help educators to design the syllabus of such a course for their specific profession. {In future I will also publish syllabus templates for this course for a few branches that I understand better than the others}

Each profession has a ‘place’ in the human economy of thoughts, emotions, goods, services, and money. Thus, it has a place in human history and civilization. The first objective for the student is to find this place. Most college degree programs make students go through the entire college journey without finding and discussing this place holistically and questioning it. They make automatic assumptions about the profession’s utility and pass them on to generations of students.

This course will be designed to let the student explore and understand:

  • What is my profession? What are the products or services made by professionals in my field? How are they useful to fellow human beings and societies? What is the economic, emotional or physical utility provided my profession to mankind?
  • In the diverse patchwork of societies, is my profession useful to only a few or to a large number of societies? Where does it fit in the economic landscape? Is my profession useful to the immediate community that I will stay in?
  • What has been the historic evolution of my profession? It’s goods and services? It’s tools and technologies?
  • How is the profession useful to me? What does it do for me for the next 5, 10, 20, 30, 40 years? How do professionals evolve in my profession?
  • How are the products or services in this profession designed, made, and delivered? What is their material and energy need? How does that impact the environment?
  • What tools and technologies does my profession need to design/make/deliver? Where do they come from? What is their environmental impact?
  • What is the human health impact (including psychological) of the delivered goods and processes in my profession – on the customers, suppliers, the professionals, other workers?
  • How long do these impacts stay? Are they long term or short term?
  • If there are negative impacts on the environment / human health, how does my profession think about eliminating or mitigating them? If not, why not?
  • What are the connections between my profession and local, national, and global environmental challenges?
  • What kind of environmental regulations currently exist in my profession, what are the processes and institutions for enforcing them, and do they serve the purpose?
  • How can this environmental impact mitigation be improved further? What kind of redesign of objectives, processes, and deliverables is necessary? Where is transformational change needed and where is incremental change needed?
  • Can the ‘place’ of this profession be re-imagined? Does it need to be eliminated or transformed significantly?
  • Does my profession play a role in mitigating environmental and human health impacts created by other professions? And how can this be improved (though it would always be much be better to address problems at their root)?
  • If my profession is focused on conserving the environment, can I understand it holistically using the above questions, and improve it’s contribution?
  • Who are the professional associations/guilds in my profession and what is their approach to the above questions?
  • What are the existing career tracks within my profession related to environmental problem solving? What are some potential new careers?

Holistic, recursive, penetrating analysis is required to achieve the kind of clarity sought by the above questions. Tools like interdisciplinary approach, root cause analysis, 5 Why’s technique are recommended.

 

Semester VI

EcoUniv i-1502: Solutions to the environmental crisis

Prerequisites: EcoUniv 1301, 1302, 1401, 1402

The ‘Data and trends about current environmental challenges’ mentioned in EcoUniv 1402 will be revisited in greater detail. In addition, manifestation of environmental challenges at local, regional, national, and global levels will be discussed via case studies.

Past crises and their handling by societies and communities. The history of human collaboration when dealing with crises. The discussion as applied to the environmental crises. The concept of resilience.

What does a ‘solution’ look like? Environmental Ethics and the concept of sustainability will be discussed as a foundation and ‘solutions’ will be reviewed in that context.

Reduction on consumption, Alternative economics, Ecological restoration and conservation, and a focus on Well-being will be discussed as four key pillars towards a lasting set of ‘solutions’.

Within each of the above, discuss the set of problems at a granular level, provide analytical lenses, and journey to solutions. Current Metrics & Alternative Metrics (e.g. GDP). Efficacy of proposed solutions. Historical case studies. Alternative approaches presented so far to the human race and their impacts.

Discuss common threads that need to go across these four themes: revisiting education for holistic environmental education, an alternative economy, transformation of polity and governance to work on these issues, the role of psychology, entropy, the re-design of the monetary system, re-design of communities around environmental objectives, etc.

The history of the environmental movement so far and it’s role in finding ‘solutions’ (temporary or permanent). The four types of environmentalism (market liberal, institutional, bio-environmental, and social greens), and their approach to solutions.

Tribal societies and their principles of dealing with nature. The utility of such accumulated knowledge in solving the environmental crisis.

The role of research in natural sciences, conservation, history, archaeology, palaeontology, and man-nature relationship. A brief intro to research methods and relevant findings from these fields.

Environmental problem-solving as a career. The diversity of institutions and their objectives. The advantages and limitations that institutions bring to problem-solving. Existing and potential new career tracks, including eco-entrepreneurship.