Decolonizing in an Era of Climate Change and Denial

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Spring 2018 quarter

Taught by

literature, writing, storytelling
ethnobotany, environmental and cultural anthropology, plant studies

We live in an era of climate change and its denial. We also live in a country founded on genocide and its denial. How are these denials related? Through explorations of science, history, and literature, we will examine practices, paradigms, and politics that undergird these denials and their counterpoints—patterns of renewal, resiliency, and sustainability . We will focus on learning how to transform mainstream cultural and ecological narratives, and how to support Indigenous leadership, justice, and restitution in environmental policy making. We will identify existing colonial structures and examine how they diminish ecological and cultural diversity. We will learn to engage in careful and respectful research, develop tools to craft essays for particular audiences and purposes, cultivate the practice of storytelling, and develop methods to critically examine texts and the media.  We will explore relationality as both paradigm and practice, and as a method of decolonization and reciprocity. Through nature journals and hands-on engagement with the Longhouse Ethnobotanical Garden, we will cultivate an intimate and enlivened relationship with plants, people, and place. We will explore the Coast Salish cultural context of the garden, including the Lushootseed language, as we deepen our understanding. As we work to cultivate authentic voices, informed narratives, and skills to actively transform the twin denials of colonization and climate change, we will ask: how can we cultivate communities of kindness that nurture hope and renewal in difficult times?  How might the seeds of ecological diversity and cultural diversity be the seeds of survival? Activities include lectures, workshops, careful reading, thoughtful writing, meaningful research, maintaining a nature journal, field work, and garden care.  Texts include: The Collapse of Western Civilization  by Oreskes and Conway; An Indigenous People’s History of the United States  by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz; as well texts by Naomi Klein, Winona LaDuke, Rebecca Solnit, Linda Hogan, and others.

Program Details

Fields of Study

environmental studies sustainability studies

Preparatory For

education, writing, sustainability and justice, environmental studies and management, Indigenous studies and leadership, cultural ecology, plant studies


Spring Open

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered

Evening and Weekend

Advertised Schedule

Every Wednesday, 5:30-9:30p; April 4-June 6 and Alternate Saturdays 9:30a-5:30p (April 7 & 21, May 5 & 19, June 2)  

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning


$75 for museum entrance and project supplies


2018-02-16Program fees updated: Now $75 (was $55)