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Foundations of the Great Turning (class)

Instructor: Randy Morris, Ph.D.
Credits: 3-4
Quarter: Fall 2007

Time: Wednesdays, 7-9:30pm (Oct. 3, 10, 17, 24: Nov. 7, 14, 28; Dec. 5)
Plus: Saturday, Oct. 13th from 10-5 (Pachamama Alliance Workshop) Thursday, Oct. 25th, 7-9:30pm (Richard Tarnas Lecture: At the Threshold of a New Worldview)
Friday, Oct. 26th, 10-2pm (AUS discussion “The Mission of the University in the Time of the Great Turning” with Richard Tarnas and Ormond Smythe)Sunday, Nov. 18th from 10-5 (Great Turning Northwest workshop) Saturday, Dec. 8th from 3-9pm (Community Fair)

The Great Turning refers to this historical moment in which we live, as our civilization moves from an industrial growth society to a sustainable earth community. Students examine the basic premises of the Great Turning, from holding actions in defense of earth, to new alternatives, to the philosophical and spiritual resources needed for this transformation. We will engage in two full day workshops facilitated by groups who are consciously participating in the work of the Great Turning -- the Pachamama Alliance and Great Turning Northwest.

In addition, we will participate in a facilitated discussion on “The Mission of the University in the Time of the Great Turning” with Richard Tarnas, with a view towards understanding Antioch University Seattle’s place in the Great Turning. Our work will conclude with a community fair in which we will share the results of our inquiry in an exchange with the community at large. This is a “Commons” class open to students in all Antioch programs as well as Antioch alumni, faculty, staff and administration. Readings include the work of Joanna Macy, David Korten, Richard Tarnas, Al Gore and Randy Morris. Class consists of lectures, discussions, small group work and experiential exercises taken from Macy's "Work that Re-connects".

To understand the basic principles of the idea of The Great Turning as articulated in the writings of Joanna Macy and supplemented by the work of other authors such as David Korten, Al Gore and Richard Tarnas.

  • To gain a sense of our current global situation, how we got here and how a positive future can be attained.
  • To understand some of the political and spiritual implications of the Great Turning.
  • To understand the mission of the University and, in particular, the mission of Antioch University Seattle, in the time of the Great Turning.
  • To ask the educational question, “What do people need to know in the time of the Great Turning?”
  • To understand our own personal role (or ‘calling”) in the process of the Great Turning
  • To learn about other initiatives, methods and techniques by community groups who are trying to accomplish the work of the Great Turning
  • To engage in the planning of a community project that connects individuals and organizations that are participating in the Great Turning.

Class will consist of lectures, discussion and small group exercises. Each student is expected to participate fully in class discussion and exercises. Specific learning activities include:

1. Weekly reading assignments
Three letters (2 single spaced pages) addressed to the class due on October 17, November 7 and November 28. The first letter should address the learning in the class thus far, along with a critique of the Pachamama workshop. The second letter should address the learning from the Richard Tarnas lecture and discussion about the mission of the university. The third letter should address the learning from the Great Turning Northwest workshop. Further instruction about these assignments will be given in class. These letters will be read and discussed by all members of the class.
The creation of a visual project (a digital poster or some other artistic display) that addresses some question posed by the student about an aspect of the Great Turning and which can contribute to the Community Fair. These projects will be designed in consultation with a small group and integrated into the overall aims of the fair.

A final reflective essay (7-10 pages) on the Great Turning and one’s place in it.

A one paragraph self-assessment of learning for the class. The statement should assess the student’s engagement with the class, key ideas learned, and suggestions for future inquiry. An electronic version of this paragraph should be sent directly to the instructor and will be used verbatim in the student’s final evaluation.

This class is designed for 3 undergraduate credits. Undergraduate students taking the class for 4 credits and all graduate students should write a short (5-7 pages) research essay on a topic of relevance to the Great Turning (suggestion: make it on the topic of your digital poster).