L&S Curricular Connections

L&S Discovery Courses

LS 170AC / Earth and Planetary Science 170AC

Crossroads of Earth Resources and Society

Physical Science, Social and Behavioral Sciences

America currently faces a crossroads in resource policy. What relevant lessons can be learned from a retrospective of the injustice, dispossession, and internment of ethnic groups and warfare in the West? Do the voices, faces and traditional knowledge of the people in the Apache Resistance convey meaning to us today? Is the Japanese internment camp at Manzanar cause for reflection? Can the contradictions between the American materialistic lifestyle, the limitations of the earth to provide our material and energy needs while sustaining environmental quality and equitable treatment of all peoples be resolved? Is globalization the answer or is it a deceptive escape from these contradictions? Is there a path that eludes warfare or is it part of our manifest destiny? Must American land history always be reflected in the faces of great but tragic figures?

We will explore the peoples of the West through lectures, documentary and popular films, and discussion sessions. An overnight field trip to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada provides a glimpse of the influence of the Gold Rush Era on California cultural heritage and on the Indian peoples once living nearby. We will tour an underground gold mine, visit a cemetery to study the ethnicity of the townspeople, see the Indian Grinding Rocks State Park, tour a limestone cavern and participate in journal readings around a fire ring.

Each student is expected to conceive his or her own vision quest, outlining in poster format a plan for a decade of personal and collective actions that might help propel American society along a path of cultural harmony while continuing to support its material and energy needs with environmentally-sound practices. Poster talks are presented at a weekend class symposium.

George Brimhall (Earth and Planetary Science)

Donald Sterling Noyce Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching

Terms Offered

  • Fall 2009
  • Fall 2008
  • Fall 2007
  • Fall 2006
  • Spring 2006