Open Course “Environmental Thinking”

    From 3rd of September until 18th of October 2018 open course “Environmental Thinking” will be taught at the School of Advanced Studies. The course is open, so everybody is welcome.

    Participants will receive a certificate of the course completion issued by SAS if they attend regularly.

    Monday and Thursday from 7 p.m. to 8.30 p.m. The course is taught in English. Free and open admission.


    The news announce constantly that we are living on a dying planet. For many people, this overwhelms not just our ability to “do something” about it, but even our ability to think it. Sometimes, the disaster seems too immense, too intertwined with every aspect of life for a mere individual to grasp. Other times, we are told to take it one small step at a time, and that every one of our actions makes a difference. Neither position helps us understand the present or imagine the future.

    This course introduces multiple critical paradigms for thinking about the environment and one’s relationship to it. Rather than trying to describe the environmental crisis, as if the problem were singular, this course illustrates how different environmental problems engender different cognitive and imaginative frameworks. The goal of the course is not to arrive at a comprehensive, total understanding of environment, but instead to explore the dynamics among these competing frameworks. Should we strive to reconcile the tensions between them? Can their differences be productive for thought, action, or both?

    Margret Grebowicz is an environmental philosopher researching exhaustion and desire, as bodies, places, relationships, and meanings interact at different levels of life. She is the author of four books: ‘Whale Song’ (Bloomsbury Academic P), ‘The National Park to Come’ (Stanford University P), ‘Why Internet Porn Matters’ (Stanford University P), and ‘Beyond the Cyborg: Adventures with Donna Haraway’ /with Helen Merrick/ (Columbia University P). Originally from Poland, she received her Ph.D. from Emory University, and taught philosophy for two decades in the US before coming to SAS. During one of those decades, she also worked as a professional jazz vocalist.

    The Plan

    • 09.03 Introductions and beginning thinking What is the Anthropocene? Who are “we”?

    • 09.06 Fantasies of Nature

      the national park idea, nationalism, recreation, photography, freedom, solitude, escape, beauty

    • 09.10 Grizzly Man screening (dir. Werner Herzog, 2005)

    • 09.13 Thinking with Grizzly Man

      Are humans animals? Are animals persons? What is wilderness and who/what belongs there?

    • 09.17 Nature, gender, and sexuality introducing ecofeminism and queer ecology

    • 09.20 Whales and other aliens

      animal intelligence, language, communication, charisma

    • 09.24 Noise and other waste

      ocean pollution, ambient waste, noise, media, social media and environmentalism

    • 09.27 Thinking about climate change

      climate change as a challenge to thinking and imagination, temporal scale and time-lapse photography, dark ecology

    • 10.01 Disability, disease, and ecological loss

      Environmentalism meets wellness culture, crip critique, what is a “natural” disaster?

    • 10.04 Environmental justice

      The movement’s history, its advantages and limitations, for what phenomena is it useful?

    • 10.08 Indigenous People’s Day (US)

      Thinking with mountains: colonialism and mountaineering, recreation in late capitalism, optimized bodies and affect extraction

    • 10.11 Guest speaker

      Dr. Juliette Colinas, specialist in environmental sociology and economics, on place, attachment, and social capital

    • 10.15 Concluding discussion: pessimism, optimism, and action