Loyola University Maryland


The Good Life Course Pairing

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The Perfect Storm: Environmental Issues for the 21st Century (BL111)

For several decades, geologists have been pushing for recognition of a new epoch, the "Anthropocene". This change would reflect the visible impacts that humans have had on the earth during most of our history. We are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction in the 3.6 billion year history of life on earth, and the causes are, without a doubt, human impacts such as habitat destruction, introduction of invasive species, and rapid climate change. This course covers the history of the earth; starting with the creation of our solar system, through the evolution of life forms that over time changed our atmosphere, to current conditions where the dominant impact is by one species, man. The theme of Self and Other will be emphasized as we explore the impacts of humans on global conditions through a systems approach. Students will become adept at understanding positive and negative feedback loops, how to deconstruct complex systems, and actions they can take that could, collectively, make a difference. Intersections with economic, social, and philosophical systems will be explored through the lens of environmental justice.

Faculty Biography

Bernadette Roche is an associate professor in the Biology Department at Loyola, and the Director of the Environmental and Sustainability Studies Minor.  She has been involved in freshmen programs since coming to Loyola in 1997, teaching in first year programs, serving as Core Advisor most years, and serving on the boards of both Messina and the Honors Program.  Bernadette teaches Plant Ecology and Plant-Animal Interactions, as well as introductory biology majors courses such as Ecology, Evolution, and Diversity. She regularly teaches the non-majors Environmental Biology course, and has adapted that course for Messina this year.  Her research is on the evolutionary ecology of a small mustard, the lyre-leaved rock cress. She is also expanding her research into urban environmental education.  In her spare time, she enjoys doing things with her family, singing in the church choir, scuba diving, hiking with the dogs, gardening, cooking, and traveling.

Human, Animal, Machine: Environmental Philosophy (PL236)

In this course we look beyond our human selves to that larger natural, world of which we are a part. Is nature a kindly mother? Wild and dangerous? A resource for our use? Are animals mindless machines, or do they possess modes of intelligence that we have not begun to appreciate? And how has the pervasive presence of technology changed things? Do our smartphones, TVs, and computers expand and enrich our lives? Or do we live in a technological bubble, cut off from nature and each other? Using articles, books, film, and our own life experience, we will reflect on such issues. The goal will be to think more deeply about "the good life" for humans, animals, and our imperiled planet.

Faculty Biography

Drew Leder has a medical degree as well as a Ph.D. in Philosophy. He has taught at Loyola for many years, with a special interest in Asian philosophy and environmental philosophy. He has published six books which range in focus across issues of world spirituality, the philosophy of medicine, and the plight of inmates in maximum-security settings where he has long volunteered. His work has been featured in newspapers and magazines across the country, ranging from the Washington Post to Family Circle. He lives in Baltimore with his wife, two daughters, and his dog (who will help teach our section on animal consciousness).

Mentor Biography

Patrick Durkin is Assistant Director of Event Services.  A Loyola graduate from the class of 2001, Patrick has been working Full Time at the University in the Event Services department for the last 14 years.  He is originally from Buffalo, NY (Go Sabres!) where he graduated from Canisius High School.  He spends as much time as he can with his two young daughters, who are already looking forward to being part of Loyola’s classes of 2031 and 2034!
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