Intellectual Heritage - Nature

Following is the design for a ten-week segment of Intellectual Heritage which will introduce students to divergent perspectives of nature over time and across cultures.  The course will contain three contact hours per week.  The material will be presented in four units, examining varying cultural attitudes and conceptualizations of nature as a creative, preservative and destructive force and an examination of political, social, and economic factors effecting nature during our own time.

The primary mode of instruction will be through active involvement in class discussions and exercises.  Students will be asked to read exerpts from texts in a variety of disciplines, to analyze the readings, and to discuss their relevant ideas with the assistance of the course instructor, who will act as group leader.

Resource material for the course will include readings, field trips, and samples of music and art work with nature themes.  Throughout, connections will be drawn to show how Nature fits in with the other themes of Intellectual Heritage, namely; Belief and Thought (e.g. scientific explanations vs. creationism); The Nature of Time (e.g. relative time in terms of the longevity of the human species and the longevity of the universe); Democracy, Power and Oppression (e.g. attempts to control and define nature as well as the need to control our misuse of nature).

Each student will work in a small group to research a topic relevant to a central theme of the course during the first nine weeks.  The student group will then present the results of the research to the class during the tenth week.  Oral presentations, individual written reports, class participation, and two essay examinations will be used for evaluation purposes.


  1. Creation

    1. Early Views of Creation

    2. Classical and Scientific Ideas About Creation

  2. Destruction
    1. Beliefs about the End of the World

    2. Technology and Nation

  3. Preservation
    1. The Meaning of Nature in Western Thought:  Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

    2. Romantic and Transcendentalist Views of Nature

    3. Nature in the Twentieth Century

  4. Political, Social, and Economic Factors Effecting Nature




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