Campus Ecology

Jim Farrell
Environmental Studies, St. Olaf College


An exploration of the moral ecology of everyday life on college campuses, paying attention to the social construction of common sense and the habits that affect the habitats of the world, as well as to alternative ways of thinking and acting sustainably, so that everybody lives "happily ever after."

Course Size:

Course Format:
Small-group seminar

Institution Type:
none selected

Course Context:

Level II course in Environmental Studies, also counts as American Studies mid-level seminar. There are no general education requirements attached to the course, so students just take it because they want to.

Course Goals:

Goals are too numerous to list here. See attachment.

Course Features:

Very intense discussions, lots of self-examination in class and in journals. Tours of campus (power plant, cafeteria, LEED platinum science center, natural lands) help students see that sustainability can be practiced (more or less) in institutions. Emphasis on "going public" with our learning, and on practical idealism--how to say things so that people listen, and so that people act.

Course Philosophy:

Like Jim Zaffiro, I have little faith in the conventional academic enterprise to helps students redefine success so that it includes justice in a sustainable society, and more time for things that really matter. This course helps students do that.


Journals, projects, evaluation of class participation, as well as learning outcomes assessment.


References and Notes:

David Orr, Earth in Mind
Taylor and Schor, Sustainable Planet
Paul Gruchow, Grass Roots
Scott Russell Sanders, Hunting for Hope
Jim Farrell, The Nature of College
and lots of essays