Fall 2007 Syllabus
Richard H. Elderkin, Professor
Our goal will be to become acquainted with and develop considered personal reaction to a collection of well-known and respected environmental writings (“classics”). I have chosen the readings for the first ten weeks of the course (listed below); you will choose them for the final three weeks. My choices are divided approximately equally among 1.) humanities, 2.) natural sciences, and 3.) social sciences. Throughout the semester our goals while reading will be to analyze the texts and formulate our own (individual) responses. We will also tangentially discuss the notion of a “classic” reading to help the class chose the readings for the last three weeks of the semester. To effect these goals you will write a paper (approximately 1200-1500 words) in two parts each week, with the first part devoted to understanding the text and the second part developing a personal response. The course grade will be based on that writing and peer reviewing, and on class discussion (with no final or other exams).
We meet Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1:15 in Millikan Lab 211. Tuesday’s goal will be to understand the author’s message; while Thursday’s will be to develop a well-considered personal stance on the issues of that text. We will usually devote class meetings to discussion aimed at satisfying these goals. A preliminary paper reflecting your understanding of the week’s reading will provide a foundation for your participation in our discussion on Tuesday. After our Tuesday discussion on content of the readings, you will complete the week’s written work by developing a personal stance on the issues considered by the text and appending that to your revision of the earlier draft. When possible, you should develop your own thoughts about the issues from the reading. If it isn’t feasible for you to give your own original thoughts about the subject of the reading (e.g. probably the science readings) then you should give an alternate personal reaction to the subject. Through your papers you convey to me your understanding of the reading and its message to you. I encourage you to bring some sort of record of your papers (or notes) to class for your personal use. (Laptops, notes or print-out on waste paper, or superb memory skills, to keep the class as paper-free as possible, are desirable.)
The weekly schedule is designed to consider a single reading (or a single coordinated group of readings) each week. A preliminary paper reflecting your understanding of the week’s reading (providing a foundation for your participation in our discussion on Tuesday) will be due to me and to your peer reviewer via email by Monday at The peer reviewer will respond to your draft by Tuesday at via email, copying the response to me. The completed paper is due to me at 7:30 a.m. Thursday. The combined length of the Tuesday and Thursday efforts should be 1200-1500 words. (Fewer words are OK if adequate to the task; but more is discouraged.) All transmissions of drafts must be emailed and copied to me as attachments, using MS Word (unless you make alternate arrangements with me). Please note the week and word count of this paper with your name at the top of the first page. Use the “Track Changes” function of MS Word for your peer reviewing. Please single-space with Times New Roman 12 point type, with a double space between paragraphs and margins of 1 to 1 ¼ inches.
Pick a name or initials which will always begin the filenames of your electronic drafts and papers, which you will use through the semester and which will easily identify you to me when I see the filenames. I prefer the name you wish to be called in class. Follow your name with the week number, followed by “a” for the first draft, “b” for a peer reviewed first draft, “c” for another non-final draft after that (if any, etc.), and “f” for the final draft of the week. So for example if in week 5 Molly sends Peter “Molly5a.doc” to peer edit, Peter and I know that this is her first draft, and after the editing, Peter sends it back to Molly (copying to me) as the file “Molly5b.doc”. (The week of vacation doesn’t count.) We will use the Track Changes tool of MS Word to facilitate the editing.
We need a uniform citation format. When there is only one source under consideration and when it is likely that everybody is using the same edition, just a page number in parentheses should be adequate. Otherwise, use a citation of the form (title, #) where “title” is a chapter or section title that appears in the table of contents and “#” is an approximate number of pages from the beginning of the chapter or section to the page of the citation.
Office Hours: Mondays and Wednesdays, 2:00 – 3:30 and by appointment (10 minutes in advance is adequate), in Millikan Lab 226A.
Rick Elderkin (“Dr. E”) firstname.lastname@example.org
Some sample questions to help frame the Tuesday review:
Some sample questions to help frame the Thursday response:
Each week’s set of papers will count as an equal part of your grade for a total of about 60% of your grade. Your peer reviewing is as important for you as a skill as it is to help the writer you review, so I will provide you with feedback on it and it will count for about 20% of your grade. Class participation will inform the remaining approximately 20%.
Note about buying texts: The reading for Week 1 is online, but you will need to buy the books for the rest of the semester. You can find bibliographic information at the bottom of the page, including ISBN’s. Although you are welcome to buy whatever edition you want, I do recommend the ones followed by a (*) for various reasons. The books for weeks 2-7 are available at the Huntley Bookstore. You’ll find the others less expensively from alternate sources. However, I do encourage you to buy those for weeks 2-7 from Huntley, even though they are a bit more expensive. Huntley provides a nice service to you in having those books available right from the beginning of the semester, which is worth the bit extra they charge.
Tuesday. Course overview. Preview of Thursday’s subject.
Thursday: Read Garrett Hardin’s “The Tragedy of the Commons”, Science, 162 (1968) 1243-1248, which is accessible online at http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/162/3859/1243. Write at most 300 words organizing your understanding of the main thrust of this reading in preparation for discussion in class. Focus on the concept of a common and on Hardin’s primary interest in breeding as a common. In class we will discuss your writing and other examples of commons that are important to environmental considerations. Also in class you will have a chance to state your own position on the issues raised in the reading. Today is meant to be a model for a typical complete week with lengthier readings.
Tuesday Read in Leopold’s Sand County Almanac: From the original core of Sand County Almanac: February, March, July (just “Great Possessions”), November; from Sketches Here and There: Arizona and New Mexico (just “Thinking Like a Mountain”), Oregon and Utah (“Cheat Takes Over”), from The Upshot: “Conservation Esthetic,” “Wilderness” and “The Land Ethic”. Please read in the order listed. Follow the Weekly Schedule and email your first paper to your peer reviewer for week 2 as specified above. Review and return the paper you receive, per the schedule. Come to class prepared for discussion on content, including the possibility of reading your paper to the class.
Thursday Revise, extend and complete Tuesday’s paper. Submit it per the schedule. Discuss personal responses in class.
Consider Emerson’s Walden: “Where I Lived and …,” “Solitude,” “The Village,” “Baker Farm,” “Brute Neighbors,” “The Pond in Winter,” “Spring” and “Conclusion”.
Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, chapters 1-6 and 17.
The Future of Life, by E.O.Wilson; Chapters 2,3,6,7
David Wolfe, Tales from the Underground; Chapters 1,4,5,8,9, and Epilogue.
Roderick F. Nash, The Rights of Nature, A History of Environmental
Week 8 (Thursday only, writing should be like that of a typical Tuesday)
Herman Daly and John Cobb, Jr., For the Common Good.
The Program for this Book: pp. 18-21
Chapter 1: pp. 25-32 (Skim); pp. 32-35 (Average attention);
pp. 35-43 (Find the important thoughts.).
Chapter 2: pp. 44-61 (Learn some economics! A fundamental chapter). Make note of Pigovian tax.
Chapter 3: pp. 63-78 (Full and careful reading); pp79-84 (Peruse for ideas of interest).
Chapter 4: pp. 85-96 (Learn some more economics! Another fundamental chapter).
Chapter 5: pp. 97, 106, 107.
Herman Daly and John Cobb, Jr., For the Common Good. (Further selections)
Chapter 7, pp. 138-148;
Group “A” only: Chapter 8: pp. 159-169;
Group “B” only: Chapter 9: pp. 176-182.
Appendix: “ISEW” Everyone read these selections:
Intro: first two paragraphs
Personal Consumption: first paragraph
Income Dist: one paragraph
Net Capital Growth: two paragraphs
Foreign vs. Domestic Capital: one paragraph
Natural Resource Depletion: all (long)
Env. Damage: one paragraph
Value of Leisure: first paragraph + 2 sentences
Value of Unpaid Household Labor: all but the final paragraph
Caveats and Limitations: all but the final paragraph
Student Choice #1
Student Choice #2.
Week 12 (Tuesday only)
Consider a sample of women’s environmental writing in the earlier west:
Willa Cather, O Pioneers!, Part I;
And in the later west:
Terry Tempest Williams, Refuge, chapters: “Prologue”, “Burrowing Owls,” “Whimbrels,” “Barn Swallows,” and “Peregrine Falcon.”
Week 13 (D.A.’s are)
To be decided…
Week 14 (Tuesday only). Walk in Johnson’s Pasture or other local field trip
Additional bibliographic information. (Includes most books above; gives ISBN’s for paperbacks; and gives a “*” for editions that I particularly recommend.):
E. Abbey; Desert Solitaire; McGraw-Hill; ISBN 0-345-32649-0
J. Bowers; Sustainability and Environmental Economics; Longman; ISBN 0-582-27656-X.
R. Carson; Silent Spring; Houghton Mifflin; ISBN 0-395-45390-9*.
W. Cather; O Pioneers!; Penguin Books; ISBN 0-14-18775-8.
T. Colborn; et al, Our Stolen Future; Plume (Penguin Group); ISBN 0-452-27414-1*.
J. Diamond; Collapse, How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed; ISBN 0-670-03337-5.
P. Hawken, A. Lovins, L.H. Lovins; Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution; ISBN 0316353167.
Herman E. Daly and John B. Cobb, Jr.; For the Common Good; 2nd Ed.; Beacon Press; ISBN 0-8070-4705-8.
B. Lopez; Arctic Dreams, Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape; Vintage Books (Random House); ISBN 0-375-72748-5.
A. Leopold; A Sand
R.F. Nash; The
Rights of Nature;
H.D. Thoreau; Walden; Oxford University Press, World’s Classics Series; ISBN 0-19-283921-7*.
T.T. Williams; Refuge; Vintage Books (Random House); ISBN 0-679-74024-4
E.O.Wilson; The Future of Life, Abacus; paperback (July 3, 2003) ISBN: 0349115796 (original hardback pub. by Knopf)
D.W. Wolfe; Tales from the Underground; Perseus Publishing; ISBN 0-7382-0679-2.