Course of Study for the PCC Program
Integral Ecology Track
Both the MA and PhD curricula offer the option of an Integral Ecology track, in which students study the complex character of the Earth community, the factors that threaten it, and possibilities for a better way forward. They explore some of the vital links between ecology and such fields as philosophy, religion, psychology, and cosmology, and learn strategies for a sustainable future in a creative community of planetary citizens.
The gravity and complexity of the global ecological crisis calls for an integral approach to ecology, one that broadens and deepens the study of ecology through active engagement with the humanities and social sciences. An integral ecology must draw from the whole spectrum of human inquiry, from the sciences (human, social, and natural), from the world's spiritual traditions (Asian, Western, and indigenous), from collective wisdom and the insights of individual experience.
The Integral Ecology track focuses on ecology in the context of a multi- and trans-disciplinary vision, central to which is the recognition that the key factor determining the health of the Earth's biosphere is the behavior of human beings, and therefore many of the most important issues in the study of a truly integral ecology lie in the areas of human thought, psychology, and culture. The search for solutions to ecological problems must include as a central concern the transformation of human conceptual, psychological, and cultural patterns that have become an imminent danger to the health of the entire Earth community, and the cultivation of new structures of human experience and action that are more harmoniously aligned with the natural world and the larger cosmic order within which we dwell.
Faculty and students in the PCC Integral Ecology track will explore together questions such as the following: What is the nature of the human? Does the Earth have a purpose? How can multi- and transdisciplinary thinking and perspectives assist us in envisioning ecological solutions? How do myths and symbols affect our attitude to the natural world? Do the world's religions and esoteric traditions have a contribution to make to the task of restoring ecological balance? Why are our philosophies divorced from the Earth? Why do our universities fragment knowledge? What kinds of direct experience and engagement with nature could help us become more aware and effective in dealing with the planetary emergency? What is the relationship between ecology and social justice?