A survey of how the earth's environment has affected humans culturally and physiologically and how humans have interacted with ecosystems. We will look at the formation of the solar system beginning with hydrogen and helium, get a sense of the geologic time scale and how the atmosphere was produced by single-celled organisms. We will study evolution from single-celled organisms to more complex life forms and aspects of human evolution such as why bipedalism and no fur. Next we will look at early tribal cultures, the transitions from nomadic to semi-nomadic pastoral lifestyles, and the conditions surrounding the first urban settlements. This will be a comparative study of many cultures such as the Ayamara in Bolivia and the Yap in the South Pacific, focusing on their relationships with their ecosystems. We will consider relative abundance of basic aspects of quality of life such as access to clean water and air, healthy soil and a caring community as well as the more tangible necessities. We will discuss patterns that appear to be sustainable, attempt to assemble a set of sustainable strategies and discuss how these strategies may be adapted to certain ecosystems and may not work as well when exported to new places. Students will articulate healthy ways of living that they and future generations can choose to engage in.
Resources will include:
Meyers, Norman. Gaia: An Atlas of Planet Management.
Diamond, Jared. Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies.
McNeil, J.R. Something New Under the Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth-Century World.
Hillel, Daniel. Out of the Earth: Civilization and the Life of the Soil.
Humans from Earth
48 course hours
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