Daily Archives: September 16, 2016

Envisioning a Sustainable Future: Managing and Protecting the Environment | Harvard Extension School



Course catalog listing – Spring Semester 2016:

It is widely recognized by the scientific community that current trends in our collective human behavior are not survivable. Populations are growing at rates that cannot be sustained as food supplies per capita decline and the ecological costs of providing energy and materials for many people exceed the regenerative capacities the ecosystems upon which they depend. In addition, the waste products of our increasingly urbanized and consumer-driven economies have now reached the point of compromising the restorative functions of the biogeochemical cycling systems required for human survival.

In short, the human community has created anthropocentric environments devised to function for its own maximum benefit within a complex and evolving global ecosystem that it did not create, cannot control and is in the process of destroying.  Scientists from all over the world — and now the world’s youth movements as well — are warning that this is not a viable strategy for human survival in the long run or even the foreseeable future.  They have asserted and demonstrated with compelling evidence that if we wish to survive the Anthropocene, we must learn to transcend the anthropocentric.

Can this be done?  Or, collectively, are we already past the point of no return in the Anthropocene in the effort to salvage a functioning global ecosystem?  Briefly put:

How might we envision a sustainable future
on our finite planet?

The sense of urgency for undertaking effective action on these problems was summed up quite succinctly by a placard at a recent student rally:


In response to the demonstrable trends and the manifest failure of anthropocentrism as a principle of ecosystem design numerous important thinkers and environmental leaders from all over the world have begun to envisage alternate strategies for a sustainable future. This course exposes students to innovative thinkers and inspired activists over a wide range of fields who are already engaged in the transition to global sustainability.

We can best begin, perhaps, by “Taking Stock of What’s at Stake…”

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Class Meetings

On campus
Thursdays, 5:30-7:30 pm
1 Story Street 303

Online option available

Required sections to be arranged.

Start Date

Thursday, January 26

Click HERE for Syllabus.