Timely and Timeless Work Toward Sustainability

Fall 2014 quarter

Taught by

physics, sustainable design
politics and government


No specific course prerequisites, but see last sentence of the description.

The Buddhist teacher Joanna Macy says three kinds of work are needed in this time of transition away from the Industrial Growth form of society: slowing the damage to Earth and its inhabitants, inventing the new structures of life, work and governance, and shifting values and worldviews from exploitation to coexistence. This program combines philosophy and pragmatism in pursuit of these kinds of work. Specifically, it leads students into the practice of sustainable design at two levels—community and global. At the same time, it challenges students to consider profound questions of governance, ethics, beauty and spiritual life because good designs for sustainability are tuned both to present circumstances and long-term realities: the timely and the timeless.

Student teams, with faculty guidance, will make conceptual designs for situations in the Olympia or campus community or in regional organizations with global reach, such as Amazon.com or Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Design can be physical or organizational, but always means imagination disciplined by hard information and analysis. Students will acquire skills in both. Exercises will touch on community consultation, organizational profiling, engaging constructively with your enemies, focused imagination, prototyping and mockups, information graphics and project assessment.

Background lectures, book seminars, films and workshops will all build understanding of relevant history (how we got to this transitional time), concepts (who “we” are, our diversity and how to understand our situations) and skills (how to act effectively). Topics will include community design, environmental and social ethics, history of sustainability, conflict transformation and multiparty negotiation, design theory, low-tech materials, the role of feelings and their disciplined expression. Students need to be willing to tackle open-ended problems, combine abstract and concrete thinking, respond with insight to real-world information and obstacles, and produce carefully finished writing, presentations and other work.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

sustainability, peace studies, design, community organizing and political and international relations.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Evening and Weekend

Advertised schedule: 6-10p Wed, 9a-5p Sat (TBD)


Buy books for this program through Greener Bookstore.

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning: Access to web-based tools required, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

Schedule Details

Intensive weekends October 25-26 and November 22-23 will replace two mid-quarter Saturdays TBD. Event outside regular schedule: Olympia area day field trip Friday, October 10, 1-5 pm.

Registration Information

Credits: 12 (Fall)

Class standing: Sophomore–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 32


Course Reference Number

So - Sr (12 credits): 10005

Go to my.evergreen.edu to register for this program.

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