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Courses to Connect with Earth and Sky

This course will examine human impacts on the Earth’s environment that affect the planet’s delicate life support systems. We will survey pollution in many forms and explore air quality, pesticide use, acid rain, water resource issues, municipal waste problems, and land use planning issues such as airport and highway impacts. How humans can determine their impact on the environment will be studied as well as how to understand the social and economic impact of our actions. Ecological cycles and energy flows on the Earth and the impact of human activities on their delicate balances will be explored. Guest speakers from federal, state, and local environmental management programs and a field trip to a selected facility will help the class understand the differing perspectives on environmental laws and policies. This section is currently under development.

ECOPSYCHOLOGY: THE ENVIRONMENT AND MENTAL HEALTH Professionals in the psychological fields face challenges never before faced. Not only is it now known that thousands of substances produced in our world today can cause toxic mood disorders, but the very awareness of the toxicity of our environment can degrade our mental as well as physical health. Many of the symptoms of toxic mood disorders are identical to those of depression and other mental illness, making it important that psychotherapists of today investigate the environment in which their clients live, work, and play. This course will provide the student with the tools to explore these issues. Including the examination of environmental factors in psychotherapy demonstrates the powerful interconnectedness that exists between humans and the rest of the world. The traditional Western cultural view that places humans separate from, and in control of, the world and considers all that is non-human as inferior needs to be reconsidered and challenged. This course will examine these issues and present options for anyone, particularly the therapist to contribute to resolving the confusion we have about our place in nature.

the "value" of water

This course will examine, through field visits to sites around the city, the impact of humans on the Earth. We will study, in the field, some of the things we see every day, yet rarely consider for their impact on the environment and our lives. The sites visited will include the Marina del Rey harbor, Santa Monica Pier, Hyperion Wastewater Treatment Plant, housing developments, shopping centers, and other areas where humans have changed the shape of the land. We will examine the impacts humans have had on the geology, meteorology, hydrology, animals and plants by directly examining specific sites. We will consider effects on the marine, nearshore, and urban environments of tourism, boating, sewage treatment, homes, and highways. The course will also examine the sociological and psychological implications of these impacts.
Concern for management of the environment around us has reached a new high in the last few years. But social concern is racing far ahead of technology’s ability to “prove” the harm of a pollutant or a policy. In a society there “scientific truth” is traditionally valued above ethical responsibility, the polarization of viewpoints in many environmental issues often results in frustration, lack of direct action, and a continuation of the problem. This course will provide the student with the intellectual tools necessary to understand the complex issues before society today as we attempt to manage the environment. The various methods available for public comment will be examined, such as letter writing, public hearings, grassroots protest, boycotts, and demonstrations. Historical examples of these methods will be studied and students will actively participate in a controversial issue currently before the public eye though a combination of the methods for public input. The course may include field trips to public hearings.
This one day course will examine the scientific, ecological, environmental, social, and psychological importance of some of the remaining open spaces and natural environments in the Los Angeles area and their importance to humans and wildlife. This class will be conducted in the field and will include visits to small and large natural areas where the importance of the natural world can be studied. We will examine first hand the importance of these last oases in the desert.
Southern California is a desert biome, receiving less than 14 inches of rainfall per year. Without the importation of vast quantities of water from other parts of western North America, life as we know it in the Southland would not be possible. In this one day workshop, we will study how L.A. gets it water and the troubled history of that process. We will explore the impact of L.A.’s thirst on other communities, ecosystems, and the pollical, social, economic, and ethical forces at work. This class will be conducted in the field at one of the many reservoirs that stores water for Southern California and the pumping plant that brings water up over the mountains from Northern to Southern California.
The exploration of the Solar System is one of the boldest, most inspiring adventures ever attempted by the human race. It has resulted in many technical achievements, however philosophical, spiritual, political, and ethical controversies have also emerged. This course will explore the Earth’s place in the Solar System through the study of astronomy, including how perceptions of the universe have changed as knowledge has increased. Emphasizing the results of recent space exploration missions, the planets will be studied including their composition and origin. The course will include a session at the Beverly Hills High School Planetarium, the Huntington Library, Art Gallery, and Botanic Gardens, and a field trip to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In addition to gaining a technical understanding of the astronomical aspects of the Earth and other planets, students will study the sociological issues that result from efforts to migrate off the planet Earth.
In our complex lives, there is very little that we can call “constant.” Jobs change, people come into and out of our world, our moods fluctuate, and our physical bodies change. Yet in the heavens above us, the stars, planets, and the most prominent, easily observable heavenly body, the Moon, have been there always. The heavens above and the Moon in particular, have had a dramatic impact on our lives and culture. The Moon has influenced not only the tides of the Earth, but our music, mythology, and literature as well. Our calendar month exists because of the time it takes the Moon to orbit the Earth and even women’s menstrual cycles match the 28-day journey of the Moon around the Earth. It is said that people act strangely when the moon is full and countless poems and stories have been written about the Moon. It would be difficult to imagine how life would be without this familiar celestial body ever present in our skies. In this seminar, we will examine the powerful influence our Moon has had on the Earth’s literature, mythology, and culture. Through readings, discussions, and on-going observations of the Moon, we will examine the question, “what would life be like if we had no moon?” The course will include a trip to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and a “star party” where we will observe the Moon and the heavens through powerful telescopes at a sight in the local mountains of Southern California.

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Copyright (c) 2009, Jackie A. Giuliano Ph.D.