Honors Colloquium

Prof. Jacob Hamblin

Dawn of the Anthropocene

Fall 2019, Thursdays 1-2pm, Learning Innovation Center (LINC) 360

Description:  We grew up believing that “geological time” and “human history” were quite distinct, with one extending across ages beyond imagination and the other occurring as a tiny blip.  But in recent years, scientific findings about the lasting effects of climate change, deforestation, ocean acidification, and other human-caused natural changes have led us to a new realization: we now live in an era of the earth’s history that is defined by human influence.  How has this changed the ways we look at the world around us? Does it require a new brand of ethics? Does it make us rethink our own history? Does it direct our imagination? In this course we will explore the environmental arts and humanities to confront the ways our culture responds to living in an age we did not intend, yet is of our own making.

Assignments & Grading: This is a Pass/No Pass course, based on two criteria:

1) Weekly Essays: Students should prepare a reflection of approximately 300-500 words each week to be posted on the colloquium blog (which I will maintain).  Please post them by the end of Tuesday during the week they are assigned, so that you can read others’ posts on Wednesday (and so the visiting professor can do so as well) in advance of our meeting on Thursday. These reflections should not merely summarize, but should tease out what the week’s reading was attempting to communicate. Remember that this will be readily available for anyone to see, worldwide, so you will need to conduct yourself professionally.  Feel free to have fun with it.  Tell us what the reading meant to you, and how it connects to other issues you have seen in your classes, in your life, or in the world around you. Try to avoid getting bogged down in “rating” your reading or criticizing its style. Instead, focus on the ideas.


2) Participation: There are 8-10 class meetings, depending on scheduling and holidays. Each is mandatory to receive a passing grade. Each meeting will reflect a theme, and will draw upon the expertise of OSU faculty or outside speakers. Students must attend these and actively participate. Often the class meeting will take the form of a debate, in which students are expected to participate, having already read the blog reflections.

Schedule and Readings (readings to be provided as links, or are available with online access to the library, or I will send you PDFs)

Sep 26. Introductions 

Oct 3. The Environmental Encyclical. (w/ Hamblin)

Lynn White, Jr., “The Ecologic Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis,” Science 155:3767 (10 March 1967), 1203-1207.

Pope Francis, Laudato Si [chapter 2 addresses creation and dominion]

Oct 10. Science, Race, and the Anthropocene (w/ Megan Ward)

Read chapter “Geology, Race, and Matter” from Kathryn Yusoff, A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None

Oct 17.  Environmental Ethics (w/ Allen Thompson)

Two readings by Thompson: “A World They Don’t Deserve” and “Radical Hope for Living Well in a Warmer World”

Oct 24. Sustainability (w/ Emily Yates-Doerr)

María García Maldonado, Rosario García Meza, and Emily Yates-Doerr, “Sustainability,” Lexicon for an Anthropocene Yet Unseen

Oct 31. Engineering Our Way Out (w/ Ehren Pflugfelder)

Selection from Clive Hamilton, Earthmasters


Nov 14. Nature, Sound, and Music (w/ Dana Reason)

Readings TBA

Nov 21. Eco-Imagination (w/ Ray Malewitz)

Paolo Bacigalupi, “The Tamarisk Hunter”

Nov 28. No Meeting. Happy Thanksgiving

Dec 5. Land and Geography (w/Hannah Gosnell)

Readings TBA

The Honors College and its members strive to create an equitable and inclusive community in which all members are welcome, heard, and treated with respect.  We uphold these values and take the opportunity to learn from each other.  Our greatest strengths and most innovative ideas come from disagreements and collaborations among people with diverse perspectives, lived experiences, and expertise.

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An Honors Colloquium in Environmental Arts and Humanities