Tuesdays, 3:30 PM – 6:29 PM
The course is conceived as having three main components: 1) conventional didactic learning; 2) contemplative pedagogy; 3) learning through dialog and action. The didactic portion of the course will cover the literature on nature and human health, biophilia, ecological literacy, and ecological sustainability. These are distinct but overlapping areas of academic study important to build knowledge. Secondly, students will be invited to deepen their comprehension with contemplative practices designed to invite reflection on our relationship with nature. Such practices include walking meditations in nature, contemplative journaling, mindful photography (using smart phones), and similar experiences designed to allow students to cultivate present moment awareness in natural settings. Finally, a good portion of the course will be devoted to small group dialog grounded in the principles of mindful communication (especially active listening). Students will be invited to share their insights regarding humankind’s relationship to nature, the campus’ relationship to local ecosystems, environmental justice issues raised in the literature or their own experience, and large issues facing us today, such as how best to address and communicate about the climate crisis. These will be coupled with active-learning opportunities at the Penn Farm and elsewhere. These community-building experiences will help students perceive the interconnections we often overlook: our connections to the natural world, to our inner life, and to one another.