Imagine a highly developed, complex civilization
disappearing virtually overnight, leaving only tantalizing evidence of
its greatness to puzzle modern researchers. Ancient Mayan ruins in
Mesoamerica, and those of the Anasazi in the Southwest, offer mute
testimony of once thriving cultures that suddenly, mysteriously,
collapsed. Why? Human life is rooted in the soil, both literally in our
land-based agriculture over the last ten thousand years, and
metaphorically in our more recent urban cultures. Soil and water
management have been closely tied to the advances, declines, and
regeneration of simple human societies and complex civilizations for
millennia, especially in our quest to grow food in challenging
environments with unstable climates and too little or too much water.
the Maya and Anasazi as case studies, we’ll employ modern science and
history to unravel the mysteries of ancient cultural change. The course
requires no previous background: brief lectures and occasional films
will introduce participants to the nature of these civilizations and the
relevant science and history necessary to our task. The emphasis will
be on extensive discussion. Our joint exploration will challenge us to
examine our perceptions of what constitutes “modern,” “sustainable”
human culture in light of disturbances of ecosystems and challenges to
complex societies. Participants may expect approximately 50 pages of
reading per week.
Bruce James received a B.A. in chemistry and environmental studies from
Williams, followed by M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in soil science from UVM.
During these studies, he developed a keen interest in interdisciplinary
learning related to the course topic that he used in his teaching at the
University of Maryland, College Park, for 29 years. Now retired, he
continues to thrive on new learning and ideas related to sustainability,
environmental science, soils, environmental history, and agriculture.
Mondays, January 14 - February 25 from 12:00 - 2:00 PM at the DOC House in Hanover, NH. Please call 603-646-0154 to register or click here
. $80 course fee.