In this course we will read and write about the earth and nature from many perspectives: mythological and religious, historical and social, lyrical and scientific. Our extended ocean voyage away from and finally back to home will offer students a direct visceral encounter, as well as a powerful metaphor to reflect on their own life journeys. We will read creation narratives from different religious and cultural traditions. We will consider how humankind has both worshipped and abused the earth through history. Beyond this, we will read accounts, nonfictional and fictional in a range of genres, both of specific places, as well as of the elements of earth, sea and sky. We will read of the life on earth of our fellow creatures, from ants to larks to whales, reflecting on what we might learn from them, and how we might better live together. Looking ahead, we will also study some science fiction scenarios to better speculate on “the fate of the earth” and on our shared futures. Students will engage in both reflective and analytical writing as they investigate and report on their voyage experiences. They will be required to write journals, formal papers and in-class examinations.
Field WorkCountry: Hawaii, United States
Date: January 12, 2017
Our class will begin with a visit to the renowned Bernice Paunahi Bishop Museum. After a tour of the museum focusing on some of its most treasured artifacts, we will attend the J. Watumull Planetarium’s presentation of “Wayfarers, Waves, Winds, and Stars.” This program illustrates and dramatizes the voyage from Tahiti to Hawaii of the Polynesian sailing canoe Hokukle’a that we will have been studying in class. While at the museum, we will also have the opportunity to view a lava demonstration. We will complete our day with an invigorating hike up Diamond Head, a 300,000-year-old volcanic crater tuff cone. This will give us a sense of Hawaii’s pre-historic formation as a series of volcanoes, and also a spectacular view of Honolulu. Learning objectives: 1. Better understand the incredible navigational feats of the Polynesian voyagers and learn about native Hawaiian culture through visit to Bishop Museum 2. Experience the volcanic nature of the Hawaiian Islands through hiking Diamond Head Crater