Painting the college green: An environmental education framework for college: Part 3: Two courses for Second Year College

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

Semester III

EcoUniv i-1401: History of Man and Nature

This course will examine human evolution and human impact on nature through pre-historic and historic modes of living. A brief syllabus template is given below.

Human evolution from the ape tree with particular emphasis on H. Habilis and thereafter. Groups, potential collaboration, scavenging and hunting prior to H. Sapien.  Co-existence of several hominids. Evolution of H. Sapien, the Great Leap Forward, and their migration from Africa to Asia, Middle East, Europe, and Americas. Sapiens and Neanderthals co-existence and genetic evidence.

Sapiens as hunter gatherers and their impact on nature e.g. fossil evidence of plant food, hunting of large mammals and large birds. Examples of hunter-gatherer cultures that have sustained for relatively long periods of time.

Theories of domestication of plants and animals. Major domesticated plant species. History of domestication of key animal species for meat, milk, muscle energy, warfare, and other purposes.

Beginnings of agriculture and pastoral modes of living. The birth of early civilizations around these modes of living. Social stratification, complex societies, migration, trade, wars, and cultural exchange (e.g. languages, customs, food, marriage). Their material and energy profiles. Examples of decline of such societies due to natural resource extraction, soil erosion, and climate change. Examples of sustenance of some societies over relatively long periods of time.

Impact of agriculture and pastoralists on ecosystems like forests, grasslands, and rivers. Land use change and fragmentation of landscapes and habitats due to these societies. Migration of domesticated species to new geographies.

Simple technologies and their evolution and spread in agrarian and pastoralist societies. Impact of simple technologies on nature.

Colonial history viewed from the lens of modes of living and impact on natural landscapes. Colonial history w.r.t. industrialization and competition in colonizer nations. The trade and financial landscape of the colonial era. Impact of colonization on natural resources, habitats, and wildlife globally. World Wars and their impact on nature, resources, economics, and societies in colonies.

Post 1950s world and the global march towards industrialization (in brief. More details in the next course).

History and evolution of our surpluses. History of our energy sources and energy use. Connections between (human) populations and surpluses, populations and food, populations and energy.

Healthcare, lifespan, family sizes through the ages. Connections between the above and lifespan. Family structures and sharing of resources through history.

A summary of Sapiens’ biological and life process differences from the ape tree. Sapien as a part of nature and not a part of nature.  Importance of social groups, collaboration, and shared beliefs in Sapiens’ history.

Human psychology and nature. Human cultural history and nature (e.g. protection and destruction of ecosystems and wildlife). Treatment of local, regional and national commons across human history and various cultures.


Semester IV

EcoUniv i-1402: The industrial man and the environment

Comparison between historic and modern knowledge societies, creation of knowledge, and use of knowledge. Impact of new knowledge (especially technology) on human societies.

Renaissance, Reductionism, Enlightenment, further scientific and engineering advances, global exploration, and modern knowledge societies as precursors to industrialization.

History of the industrial revolution and it’s impact on products, markets, supply chains, energy use, mobility, political and cultural dominance, warfare, knowledge creation and exchange, education, division of labour, economics, finance, families, and cultures.

Pre- and post-WW II waves of industrialization in key global geographies (industries, technologies, products, markets, sources of energy)

Industrialization as rapid appropriation of material and energy resources. Dependence of industrialization on concentrated forms of energy. Their relationships with international relations and politics.

Industrial agriculture and it’s relationship with humans and nature.

History of global trade prior to and after industrialization. Free market economics, socialist economics, and their connections with industrialization.

A short history of money. Global economics and finance prior to and post-Bretton Woods. E.g. The lending sector in historic and modern times.

History of property and resource ownership rights (especially land, technology, and intellectual property) globally and in the country. Changes in common property resources after industrialization.

Impact of industrialization on healthcare, lifespans, and population. A brief intro to modern population theory.

A brief history of cities and impact of industrialization on them. Urbanization – It’s causes and impact.

Industrialization and surpluses created by human societies. Their connection with energy use and population.

Human-built networks: A brief history prior to and after industrialization. Their complexity, energy and material footprint and the changes they cause in human societies.

Consumption in the industrial era. Role of marketing and advertising and it’s impact on human psychology.

Paradigms of growth in the modern industrial-financial era: Growth of companies (e.g. ever increasing revenues), Individual pursuit of materialistic growth and wealth, and growth of nations (GDP)

Impact of consumption and industrialization on human psychology, families, and social structures.

Impact of industrialization, consumption, private land and resource ownership, and modern finance on: Land use change, Ecosystems, Biodiversity, Local, regional, national, and global commons, fragmentation of landscapes, destruction of habitats. Consider here all aspects of industrial mode of living including land for industrial plants and establishments, transport routes, resource extraction, waste creation, and pollution. Collective impact of all these factors on human relationships, well-being, health and psychology. Data and trends about current environmental challenges.

Future trends in science and technology. Innovation and it’s positive and negative aspects.