In this course, we will examine innovative sustainability solutions
that are transforming the way the world works, including tools
and ideas for creating sustainable lifestyles, businesses, communities
and cultures. We will investigate the complex systems and networks
experiencing dynamic change in our environment, our economy and
our society to understand where we are now. We will explore scenario-building
strategies to imagine culture changes in future decades.
Like Cabrillo College itself, this course seeks to honor the
core values of "academic freedom, critical and independent
thinking, and respect for all people and cultures." This class
provides opportunities to develop skills in all of Cabrillo's
"Core Four" competencies:
I. Communication: Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking
- Explain sustainability concepts to peers and be able to share
these concepts with the broader community.
- Write thought questions and reflections on readings to facilitate
II. Critical Thinking and Information Competency: Analysis,
Computation, Research, Problem Solving
- Apply principles of complex systems and biological networks
to solve problems in sustainability.
III. Global Awareness: An Appreciation of Scientific Complexities,
Social Diversity and Civics, and Artistic Variety
- Use the methods and practices of anthropology to explore local
and global questions of culture change and sustainability.
- Identify trends and innovations that contribute to sustainable
IV. Personal Responsibility and Professional Development:
Self-Management and Self-Awareness, Social and Physical Wellness,
- Work productively with peers to complete assignments.
- Use online communication tools.
- Ask for clarification and assistance from the instructor.
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Students completing this course will be able to solve novel problems
related to individual lifestyle, business, community or global
issues by applying sustainability principles from diverse frameworks.
Specifically, students will explore solutions to problems of
long-term sustainability in personal, business, community and
cultural change, including:
- Known trends and areas of uncertainty around: a) climate change;
b) pollution and waste; and, c) resource limits.
- The global outlook on these issues, and their impact on individuals,
businesses, communities and societies in the future.
- Principles related to natural systems and their application
to human economic and social systems, including technological
and organizational innovation.
- Issues currently of concern for the sustainability of the
- Examples of business and community experiments in sustainability,
and lessons from them applied to the local community.
- Strategies for generating scenarios to help understand future
impacts of choices and changes.
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Learning Strategies & Class Policies
Class Discussion and Lectures
Preparing for and participating in class discussions are keys
to success in this class (and in most college classes). This class
will be highly interactive, meaning your level of preparation
in each class will be evident to your peers. I urge you to do
all your readings for the week and post
your topic findings before coming to class. Ask questions
in class, via email, on the course website/blog
or during office hours about anything that is unclear!
This course requires active participation each class meeting,
so it is essential that you attend every class session, arrive
on time, and come prepared. Your participation not only enhances
your own learning, it benefits other students in the class, especially
when working in teams. Your level of participation is reflected
in your grade, and since you can’t participate if you are not
in class, absences and tardiness will also be reflected in your
grade. Because there are only six class meetings, this means that
missing any one meeting has a big impact and will require some
make-up work. The last class meeting is particularly crucial for
Common Courtesy and Common Sense
Students frequently discover that not everyone shares their personal
beliefs, experiences, and convictions. Respect for many points
of view is required in this class. Disagreements are healthy and
help us to learn, but students must maintain a respectful attitude
and courteous conversation at all times. My goal as an instructor
is not to convince you to hold a particular opinion on controversial
issues, but to encourage you to think critically and with an open
mind about the facts, evidence, ideas and theories presented in
Classroom etiquette regarding portable electronic devices is
not unlike takeoff and landing on an airplane - they should be
turned off and stowed away. Cell phones and pagers should be OFF
at all times (an exception may be made for caretakers who can
keep their phones/pagers on vibrate for emergency situations,
provided the instructor is notified ahead of time) - "smart phones"
may be used during team work to look up information or perform
calculations, but it is not appropriate to compose/send/receive
text messages in class. You should have nothing in your ears other
than hearing aid devices if needed. You may use a recorder for
instructor lectures, as long as it is unobtrusive (though in my
experience, paying attention and taking notes during lecture is
more useful). Calculators, PDAs, and laptop computers are permitted
during lectures provided they aren't making much noise.
Other behavioral norms are expected to minimize classroom disruptions
and avoid disturbing your fellow students. Arrive on time for
class. Do not begin packing your things and preparing to leave
until the instructor has indicated class is actually finished.
Do not interrupt the instructor or your classmates while they
are speaking, but by all means DO raise your hand when you have
a question or comment. Basically, use a little common sense, try
to imagine what is likely to annoy your instructor, and then avoid
doing those things if you wish to remain in class.
Students needing accommodations should contact the instructor
immediately. As required by the Americans with Disabilities Act
(ADA), accommodations are provided to insure equal opportunity
for students with verified disabilities. If you need assistance
with an accommodation, please contact Disabled Student Services,
Room 810, (479-6379) or Learning Skills Program, Room 1073, (479-6220).
Cheating on any class work, including plagiarism, is grounds
for an immediate failing grade in the class. Plagiarism is simply
defined as presenting someone else's writing or ideas as if they
were your own. To learn about what plagiarism means and how to
avoid it, please see the description at: http://www.cabrillo.edu/~sholt/MITPlagiarism.pdf
and review the links provided by the Cabrillo College Library
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Grading and Assignments
I believe that the grade a student receives should accurately
reflect their comprehension of the material and their completion
of course objectives. While I would be overjoyed if this meant
that all of you would receive "A" grades, and would be happy to
award them if you genuinely demonstrated you deserve them, I suspect
that there will be a range of grades in this course that will
reflect the efforts of each individual student. It is possible
that some students may fail, but I will have given you opportunities
to succeed if you are willing to take responsibility and put in
genuine effort. It is your responsibility as a college student
to talk with me about options or strategies for improving your
performance in the course.
This is an in-person interactive course, but we will also be
using online tools for assignments. This will allow you to further
develop and practice your skills online (as a crucial aspect of
professional development for most jobs requiring a college degree,
and an essential tool for global change agents), and provide a
venue for sharing learning experiences with classmates and share
what you are learning with the broader world. You are expected
to do the following:
- Weekly homework and class participation related to readings:
a. Complete assigned book reading (about 50 pages per week,
for reading assignments for each book).
b. Write the following responses on the reading before the
fourth and sixth meeting of class (post on blog,
25% of course grade):
1) Explain how one idea in the reading relates to other
topics already covered in class or something you learned
elsewhere (another class or life experience).
2) List what you think are the three to five most important
points made in the reading.
3) Write a question to provoke discussion among others who
read the same passage.
4) Note any important points that connect with or inform
your research topic on the research topic blog
c. Discuss the first three with your book group, and decide
on two to five key points from your discussion to present
briefly to the entire class during the fourth meeting (5%
of course grade).
d. Evaluate your own and your book groupmates’ contributions
to the discussion (5% of course grade).
- Select and research topics based on local issues of personal
or community sustainability; prepare and present topics in teams.
a. Find and read at least five articles on your topic (post
link or citation with summary on blog before
each meeting after the first, 15% of course grade).
b. Discuss what you found in the article and relevant findings
from your book reading with your topic team in weekly class
c. Discuss plans for team topic presentation and sharing the
preparation work appropriately.
d. Present your topic during the last class session (40%
of course grade).
e. Evaluate your own and your teammates' contributions to the
presentation (10% of course grade).
Note: Evaluations and presentations happen on the last
day of class – these account for over half of your grade
in this brief class, so you must plan to be there.
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Every student must choose one book. Specific reading assignments
and due dates are listed on the blog.
You will be choosing
your book group during the first class meeting.
Brown L. 2009. Plan
B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization. ISBN#9780393337198
Eisler R. 2007. The
Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics.
Meadows, D. 2008. Thinking
in Systems: A Primer. Chelsea Green ISBN# 9781603580557
McDonough W, Braungart M. 2002. Cradle
to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. North
Point Press ISBN#9780865475878
Nelson, M. (ed). 2008. Original
Instructions: Indigenous Teachings for a Sustainable Future.
Bear & Company ISBN# 1591430798
Weisman A. 1998. Gaviotas:
A Village to Reinvent the World. (10th Anniversary Edition,
2008) Chelsea Green ISBN#9781603580564