Honors Colloquium

Prof. Jacob Hamblin

Dawn of the Anthropocene

Fall 2020, Thursdays 2-250pm, ZOOM

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 24. Introductions 

Oct 1. 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 8. Sustainability (w/ Emily Yates-Doerr)

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

Oct 15.  Environmental Justice (w/ Rob Figueroa)

Readings TBA

Oct 22. Art of the Anthropocene (w/ Julia Bradshaw)

Readings TBA

Oct 29. The Collapse of Civilization (w/ Demien Hommel)

Malcolm Gladwell, “The Vanishing”


Nov 12. Eco-Imagination (w/ Ray Malewitz)

Paolo Bacigalupi, “The Tamarisk Hunter”

Nov 19. Nature’s Theses (w/ Evan Gottlieb)

Readings TBA

Nov 26. No Meeting. Happy Thanksgiving

Dec 3.

Nature, Sound, and Music (w/ Dana Reason)

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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

An Honors Colloquium in Environmental Arts and Humanities