WHEATON COLLEGE

Norton, Massachusetts

REL 242 RELIGION AND ECOLOGY

Fall 2000 Ms. Darling-Smith

MWF, 1:00-1:50 Office--Knapton 101, ex. 3693

Office Hours—M 2:00-2:30,

T 1:30-2:00, W 2:00-2:30,

F 11:00-11:30, and by appointment

e-mail: bsmith@wheatonma.edu

COURSE DESCRIPTION:

Scientists, activists, and ordinary citizens are becoming increasingly alarmed about the viability of our planet’s future. Religious values have exerted great influence over the way human beings think about and treat the earth; and often, especially in the West, that influence has been destructive. This course will study the religious values related to our ecological crisis and then explore a variety of ways religions can be part of the solution to the crisis. We will look at all levels of human relation to nature: individual, local, national, and international.

OBJECTIVES:

1) To identify the connections between religious teachings and the ecological crisis, exploring both the religious values which have justified environmental destruction, and diverse spiritual resources (from native American, African, and Chinese traditions, from the religions of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism, from deep ecology and ecofeminism, for developing a responsible relationship with the earth.

2) To challenge students to examine the environmental consequences of their own practices.

TEXTS:

Roger S. Gottlieb, ed. This Sacred Earth

Daniel Quinn Ishmael

Harold Coward & Daniel Maguire, eds. Visions of a New Earth

Alice Walker Living by the Word

BASIS FOR EVALUATION:

1. Regular attendance and participation in class discussions (30% of grade). You will be graded on the quantity and quality of your participation. The class format will rely on class discussion, so your participation is essential. (And attendance is essential because you can't participate if you're not there!) Class discussion will be based on the assigned readings. Your papers, due each day there is an assigned reading, will form the basis for your participation in the discussion. Also, become aware of ecological issues in the news. Bring word of these issues into our class discussions.

2.A. "Questions-for-discussion" papers, due every day there is a reading assignment. Because papers are tied to class discussion, they will not be accepted after the beginning of the class period at which they are due. The papers should be brief (1/2-page maximum) and typed (or handwritten neatly and legibly); and they should include three questions for discussion.

  1. Participation in the electronic discussion as indicated. The papers and the contributions to the web-based discussion will be ungraded, but omitting these assignments will reduce your class participation grade

3. "Plant journal" entry each week related to your "special place" on Wheaton's campus, due December 11 (20% of grade). Choose any outdoor spot here at (or near) Wheaton. Visit it at least once every week. Each time, observe carefully what plants, animals, rocks, etc. you find there, and record your observations. What changes do you observe? What evidence of human activity do you see? Reflect on this question: is there anything "religious" in your relationship to this place? You will be graded on the thoroughness with which you observe and the insights you express.

4. Project, due November 27 (20% of grade). The project is a creative venture which synthesizes what you have learned about ecological issues and their connection to religious values and teachings. Construct a game, a new Creation myth, an earth-friendly ritual--use your imagination! The exact date on which you will present your project to the class will be assigned on a random basis within the time period of November 27-December 8.

THE REMAINING 30% OF THE GRADE REQUIRES YOUR CHOICE: EITHER OPTION 5 OR OPTION 6.

5. Service project at Crystal Spring Center for Ecology, Spirituality, and Earth Education, Seven Arrows Herb Farm, or some other option (30% of grade). You are expected to work approximately 3 hours per week for 10 weeks--although the schedule is to be worked out with your service site--and to write a brief weekly report on your service assignment, due every Friday. On December 11, a reflection paper is due analyzing the whole experience.

6. A. Two-page paper explaining the official statement of environmental policy of your religious group (or, if you have no connection to any religious group, a religious group of your choosing or a major U.S. political party), due October 20 (15% of grade). You may have to send away for the statement, so start soon! Your paper should include a summary of the key points of the statement, as well as your critique of the strengths and weaknesses of the group's statement. Please include a photocopy of the statement for me. Paper will be marked down a full letter grade for each class period it is late.

AND

B. Three-page review of an essay in one of several books on reserve in the library, due November 15 (15% of grade). Review will be marked down a full letter grade for each class period it is late.

ADDITIONAL ACTIVITIES (All are ungraded but required and will be reflected in attendance/ participation grade; note that you’ll have 2 class days off in November!)

  1. Leadership of a two-minute ritual to start off one class session.
  2. Attendance at a dinner with special guest speaker Michael Celona.

3. Participation in field trip to Quabbin Reservoir (probably Saturday, December 2).

  1. Participation in an earth-based ritual at Crystal Spring.

OPTIONAL EXTRA CREDIT OPPORTUNITIES WILL BE AVAILABLE AS WELL.

COURSE OUTLINE AND READING/DISCUSSION/ASSIGNMENT SCHEDULE

SEPT. 6-15 I. THE ECOLOGICAL CRISIS AND HOW HUMANS

RELATE TO NATURE

9/8 Handout from Rachel Carson and presentation of research on environmental issue

9/11 Quinn, pp. 3-91

9/13 Quinn, pp. 95-184

9/15 Quinn, pp. 187-263

SEPT. 18-22 II. THE INFLUENCE OF RELIGION

9/18 Gottlieb, pp. 3-13; + Coward/Maguire, pp. 1-12

9/20 Gottlieb, pp. 71-74, 184-193, 104-116

9/22 Coward/Maguire, pp. 15-27, 29-33, 43-62

SEPT. 25 – NOV. 15 III. RELIGIOUS SOURCES OF RESPECT FOR THE

EARTH

9/25 – 9/27 A. NATIVE AMERICAN

9/25 Walker, "Everything Is a Human Being"; +

Gottlieb, pp. 381-389

9/27 Gottlieb, pp. 131-145, 470-479

9/29 B. INDIGENOUS AFRICAN

Coward/Maguire, pp. 175-198

10/2 C. CHINESE

Gottlieb, pp. 67-70; + Coward/Maguire, pp. 161-173

10/4 – 10/18 D. JEWISH AND CHRISTIAN

10/4 Gottlieb, pp. 71-83, 116-124, 636-638

10/6 Coward/Maguire, pp. 95-108

10/9 October break; no class

10/11 Gottlieb, pp. 87-103, 297-302 + Handout

10/13 Gottlieb, pp. 451-470

10/16 Gottlieb, pp. 286-295, 238-250

10/18 Gottlieb, pp. 230-237, 643-654

10/20 Paper on environmental statement due

10/23 E. MUSLIM

Coward/Maguire, pp. 131-144; + Gottlieb, pp. 164-173

10/25 – 10/27 F. HINDU

10/25 Gottlieb, pp. 151-163, 382-385, 565-570

10/27 Coward/Maguire, pp. 113-128

10/30 – 11/1 G. JAIN

10/30 Handout (Tucker/Grim, pp. 138-148)

11/1 Video on Jainism

11/3-11/6 H. BUDDHIST

11/3 Gottlieb, pp. 147-150, 449-450, 484-498

11/6 Coward/Maguire, pp. 147-160

 

11/8 – 11/13 I. INSIGHTS FROM DEEP ECOLOGY & ECOFEMINISM

11/8 Gottlieb, pp. 511-530, 545-556

11/10 Gottlieb, pp. 21-22, 23-24, 27-28, 382-385, 611-619

11/13 Walker, "Am I Blue?" + "Not Only Will Teachers Appear" +

"Why Did the Balinese Chicken Cross the Road?"

11/15 Review of essay due

11/17 – 11/20 No class

11/22 – 11/24 Thanksgiving break; no class

NOV. 27 – DEC. 8 IV. REPORTS ON STUDENT PROJECTS

DEC. 11 V. CONCLUSIONS

12/11 Walker, "The Universe Responds"; + Gottlieb, pp. 37-40

Journal on your "special place" due

Reflection paper on service assignment due