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J. Gray Cox

Gray Cox
(207) 801-5712 | | faculty website

gray coxGray Cox, professor of political economics, history and peace studies, received a B.A. in the College of Social Studies at Wesleyan University in Connecticut and an M.A. and Ph.D. in philosophy at Vanderbilt University. He has taught at Middle Tennessee State University and Earlham College as well as College of the Atlantic where his teaching includes courses designed to prepare students to collaborate effectively in interdisciplinary projects dealing with human ecological problems in a wide variety of complex contexts and cross-cultural settings. He regularly leads the winter term program in Mexico.

Gray's publications include a variety of articles on social theory and philosophy and two books: The Will at the Crossroads: A Reconstruction of Kant's Moral Philosophy (University Press of America, 1983) and The Ways of Peace: A Philosophy of Peace as Action (Paulist Press, 1986). Gray is a singer-songwriter who has put out two CDs, one in Spanish, "Todos Somos Otros," and another in English, Spanish and French, "Streetlight and Colorado." Both are available, along with other live recordings, on his website as well as through Klarity Music.

Gray has collaborated in a variety of projects in community organizing, peace work, election observation and sustainable development. The most recent was serving as translator and narrator for a video documentary on the impact of Hurricane Isidoro on the Ejido of San Crisanto, in Yucatan.

B.A. Wesleyan University, 1974
Ph.D. Philosophy, Vanderbilt University, 1981

Courses Taught

HS725Advanced Tutorial in Interdisciplinary Research Methods

This is an advanced tutorial for students who want to use history, anthropology and social science research in their work on community organizing, social change efforts or public policy advocacy. Human ecological approaches to such problems and studies require using interdisciplinary methods to integrate different points of view and different theories in a more comprehensive understanding of a person, text, situation or problem. But how can we do that? What sorts of things are ?methods?, ?theories? and ?disciplines? and how can they be integrated? How is theoretical research related to practical action? How should we deal with the ethical issues that come up in research? How do modern vs. post-modern or neo-liberal vs. neo-Marxist or hermeneutic vs. quantitative views of these things differ? The aim of this tutorial is to cultivate students? abilities to deal with these questions in sophisticated and effective ways in the context of on going research and action projects in human ecology. It deals with challenges in choosing and using methods of research, the construction and application of theories in interdisciplinary contexts, and the negotiation of issues arising in planning and pursing a research process or action project and dealing with ethical issues that arise in it. It is specifically designed to support student work in internships, residencies, senior projects and master?s theses. It presupposes familiarity with the practice of at least two disciplines in the humanities and public policy areas (e. g. history and political science, literature and economics or ethnography and agro-ecology). Students will meet once a week as a learning group and also once a week, independently, with the professor. Tutorial sessions will focus on two kinds of readings: 1.) a selection of articles and chapters dealing with methodological, theoretical, ethical and other aspects of research processes and action projects and 2.) case study materials focused on the pr

HS652Beyond Relativism: Negotiating Ethics in the 21st Century

How can - and should - questions of ethics get resolved in the contexts of interdisciplinary and multiperspectival dialogue, conflict and decision making - as when two communities need to resolve disputes and each have different paradigms of thought and action? These questions may come up in dealing with human ecological problems when people from different professions, religions, or other cultural and social settings need to deal with each other to address common problems and opportunities. They also arise in business, government and NGO work when people pursue socially responsible projects and policies of a variety of sorts. This course will look at the common strategies in normative ethics for dealing with these problems as well as explore ways in which methods of negotiation and conflict transformation can also be helpful. Readings will include classic texts from Aristotle, the Bible, Mill, Kant, Nietzsche, and Buber as well as contemporary readings in professional ethics, in conflict transformation, and philosophical ethics (such as Alasdair MacIntyre's After Virtue). Students will write a series of short papers on texts and case studies and develop a final project in which they work to identify and resolve an ethical problem. Evaluation will be based on class participation, papers, and the final project Level: Introductory/Intermediate. Lab fee: $20. *HS*

HS433Conflict and Peace

How does conflict arise and how is it best dealt with? What is peace and how is it best arrived at or practiced? This course combines a study of major theoretical perspectives with lab work practicing skills and disciplines associated with different traditions of conflict resolution, conflict transformation and peacemaking. Readings will include Roger Fisher, William Ury, Gandhi, Thich Nhat Hanh, Walter Wink, Gene Sharp, Dorothy Day, Elise Boulding, Gray Cox and others. Lab work will involve role plays, case studies, workshops with visitors, and field work. The course will also involve one, mandatory, weekend long workshop. Level: Intermediate. Offered every other year. *HS*

HS2043Conflict Resolution Across Cultures

How does conflict arise and how can we best deal with it? This course combines a study of some major theoretical perspectives with lab work practicing skills and disciplines associated with different traditions of conflict resolution, conflict transformation and peacemaking.  We will look at case studies at the intrapersonal and interpersonal through global levels and in a variety of cross-cultural settings. The goals of the course are to help each student: 1. develop the skills to better observe, analyse,  participate in and reform practices and institutions that people use to deal with differences.  2. collaborate in teams in doing the research and planning needed to undertake such work effectively, and  3. collaborate in teams to train others in such skills. The formats of the class will alternate between lectures, discussions, films, role plays, group exercises, interviews with guest visitors, and other activities to practice skills and reflect on experiences. Readings for the course will include Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Bruce M. Patton, William L. Ury, Roger Fisher; Preparing for Peace: Conflict Transformation Across Cultures by John Paul Lederach and a selection of other short texts. In “methods groups”, students will form  teams that will study a method of dealing with differences [e. g. mediation, facilitation, non-violent direct action, meditation, nonverbal communication, gaming strategies, etc.] and offer the rest of the class a training session on this. Students will be evaluated on: 1. ways in which class their participation, homework, methods group trainings, personal training manual, and final reflective essay demonstrate progress on the three course goals, 2. the ways they make appropriate use of the theories and methods studied in the course, and 3. the clarity and effectiveness of their oral and written presentations.  

Level: Introductory/Intermediate.  Prerequisites: none.  Class limit: 15.  Lab fee: $25.  Meets the following degree requirements: HS

HS4024Contemporary Continental Thought

This course examines pivotal works and ideas of late 20th and early 21st century Continental thinkers. It will take a collaborative, seminar approach to key works including  Derrida on "Differance", Cixous and Derrida's "Veils", Deleuze and Guatarri's "Anti-Oedipus",  Lyotard's "The Post-Modern Condition", and Zizek's "The Sublime Object of Ideology" as well as shorter essays by other writers such as Foucault, Badiou, Baudrillard, Habermas and Harraway. Students and the instructor will take turns leading analyses of texts, their contexts, and their significance. Students will also be required to do short weekly writings with a major term paper on an author and topic of their choice. Evaluations will be based on the quality of class participation as well as the creativity, insight and clarity of analysis in work leading class sessions, short essays and the final paper. The course presupposes some familiarity with the philosophical tradition to which these writers respond and an ability to engage in careful analysis of very challenging texts. If necessary the class the will be subdivided into sections to insure that students have a small seminar experience that is appropriately challenging for their level of skill and background. Writing-focus option.

Level: Intermediate/Advanced; Permission of instructor required; Class limit: 20; Lab fee $20.  Meets the following degree requirements: HS

HS3020Contemporary Social Movement Strategies

When groups organize others to promote social change, what alternative strategies do they employ and how effective are they in varying circumstances? Can any general principles or methods for social change be gleaned from the successes and difficulties encountered in various social movements around the world? We will use Bill Moyer's DOING DEMOCRACY and a series of other theoretical readings to look at general models and strategies. And we will use a series of case studies  including, for instance, the Zapatistas,,  the liberation of Eastern Europe, the U. S. Civil Rights Movement, the anti-Globalizaton movement,  the Breast Cancer Social Movement and the Gay and Lesbian movement.  Students will write a series of short analyses of cases considered in class and do extended case studies on their own. Evaluation will be based on the qulaity of class participation, research and writing.

Level: Intermediate. Class limit: 15. Lab fee $25. Meets the following degree requirements: HY HS

HS2045Contemporary Social Movements: Bolivia

Social struggles for human rights, indigenous community autonomy, ecological sustainability, equality, sovereignty and other concerns invoke values, draw on methods and appeal to allies from the larger international context and yet play out with their own very distinctive dynamics at community, regional and national levels.  When social movements achieve political power that enables them to use the state in advancing their goals, these dynamics become even more complex.  An especially rich and important case study of these complex dynamics is provided by the struggles leading up to the election of Bolivia’s first indigenous president, Evo Morales, and the subsequent efforts to establish a pluri-national  state in which rights of  Nature ("Pacha Mama") and of indigenous communities are embedded in a vision of sustainability as "Vivir Bien" (living well as opposed to living "ever better" with more GDP).        

The goals of this course are to introduce students to the history and current dynamics of Bolivia with the aim to: a.) develop understanding of development issues as applied to Bolivia’s current context; b.) develop abilities to use theories of social change to interpret and critically analyze cases like Bolivia, and c.) develop their skills in research to generate useful knowledge for activists and change agents.  The class format will include readings, discussion, visiting lectures from other COA faculty, short analytical papers, and term long projects in which students will define and pursue research on a specific topic such as the struggles over issues related to water, food, climate change, coca production or indigenous culture. Students will also organize poster presentations as part of the October session of the Society for Human Ecology in which a session on the concept of Vivir Bien in Andean countries is being organized.  Evaluation will be based on the extent to which student work in discussion and in these papers, presentations, and other activities  provide evidence of achieving the three goals for the course. Readings will include shorter excerpts from texts in general theories of social change by Charles Tilly, Bill Moyer, Paulo Freire and others and extensive readings related to Bolivia’s geography, culture, history, economy and politics.  Some summer reading will be assigned as preparation for the course.    

Level: Introductory/Intermediate.  Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor. Class limit: 18.  Lab fee: $35.  Meets the following degree requirements: HS

HS726Continental Philosophy: Self & Other from Kant to Foucault

This course will introduce students to – and give them practice working with – some of the central concerns, concepts, and philosophical methods associated with the continental European traditions that grow out of and respond to the transcendental idealism initiated by Kant. Ways in which understandings of objects, the Self, freedom and relations with others vary will be used as central themes to explore connections and contrasts between these philosophers. The central texts focused on will include include material from Kant’s FIRST CRITIQUE and his moral philosophy, Hegel’s PHENOMENOLOGY, Kierkegaard’s FEAR AND TREMBLING, Martin Buber’s I AND THOU and Foucault’s THE HISTORY OF SEXUALITY, PART I. Other texts that may be read in excerpts include, 20th century writings on phenomenology and existentialism Tillich, Freire, Sartre, de Beauvoir. Class format will alternate between lecture, discussion and seminar style textual exegesis.  Evaluations will be based on a series of short papers and a final paper on an independent reading agreed upon. Class discussions will include occasional examination of passages in the original language of the primary texts. Students with fluency in German, French, Spanish or Danish will be encouraged to practice exegesis in the original language. The level will be introductory to intermediate but students wishing to take the course at a more advanced level with more extended work in exegesis of difficult texts may arrange to do so.

 Level:  Introductory.  Lab fee $20.  Class limit: 20.  *HS*

HS3037Doing Human Ecology in Cross-cultural Contexts: France

This course is part of a program in French Language and Culture in Vichy, France.  It  will provide credit for the winter orientation process preparatory for the program, learning from homestay in Vichy, the other cultural experiences that are a part of the program and for the final two week project. This final project will be in the local community working with a bakery, a farm, an NGO, a government agency, a business or some other organization that fits with their interests and provides them with an opportunity for practical learning of French language and culture in an immersion context. The course is designed to employ group exercises and individual reflections on experiences to develop the student’s insight into French culture specifically and, just as importantly, into the process of learning a second language and entering into cross-cultural exchange and collaboration. Skills and insights from anthropology, history and conflict resolution will be cultivated. Evaluation will be based on the student’s ability to demonstrate skills and insights into cross-cultural collaboration and learning through short papers based on journal writing, the final project report, and the successful completion of homestay, community collaboration and other immersion activities. Prerequisite: at least one course in French language. Requirements: Co-enrollment in HS775 "Immersion Program in French Language and Culture" and permission of instructor.

Level: Intermediate. Class limit: 12. Program fee: TBD

HS2034Ethics: The History of a Problematic

This is a course on the history of ethical thinking in the West. It deals with ways that philosophers from Socrates, Plato and Aristotle to Aquinas, Bentham, Kant, Marx, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, A. J. Ayer, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Sara Ruddick, Gandhi, Nozick, Rawls and Alasdair MacIntyre have addressed questions like the following: What is the best way to live as individuals - and what does this imply about how we should structure our society? Why are there so many types of moral disagreements in modern societies?  Why do these disagreements never seem to end but go on indefinitely? Are there ways to resolve these disputes that are persuasive between ethical traditions and across cultures? The central text for the course will be MacIntyre's AFTER VIRTUE which provides a systematic narrative for the history of Western ethics that claims to diagnose its core problems and provide solutions. Key texts and passages from the philosophers central to that narrative will be examined in detail and interpreted in light of their historical contexts using material from texts such as W. T. Jones HISTORY OF WESTERN PHILOSOPHY and Copleston's HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY. Students will develop skills to critically analyze philosophical texts and arguments in both their theoretical and historical contexts through class discussion, role plays, and a series of short papers. There are no prerequisite courses but students must be prepared to deal with complex arguments that move between philosophy, history and other disciplines. 

Level: Introductory/Intermediate. Prerequisites: none. Class limit: 15.  Lab fee: $25. Meets the following degree requirements: HS

HS3054Existentialism and Post-Modernism from Nietzsche to Irigary

This is a study of key texts in the tradition of Existentialism and Post-modernism. As a point of entry into the full range of themes, questions and ideas in that tradition, it focuses on the ways in which authors frame and interpret the experiences of freedom and of love. Are these the most profound and important aspects of human being-in-the-world or illusions used to manipulate the masses? How is individual freedom related to communal liberation? What role does love play in struggles for individual redemption or national liberation? How are experiences of  freedom and love gendered?  How are they related to instinctual drives for power or sex? What is the nature of the self and how is it realized or transformed by acts of freedom or love, or by events and institutional trends in history?  Texts may include: Nietzsche’s GENEALOGY OF MORALS, Kierkegaard’s FEAR AND TREMBLING, selected readings from Michel Foucault, Luce Irigary’s THE WAY OF LOVE, Paulo Freire’s THE PEDAGOGY OF THE OPPRESSED, Sartre’s “Existentialism is a Humanism”, and selections from Simone de Beauvoir’s THE SECOND SEX and Martin Buber’s I AND THOU. Two films will also be used as texts. Students with relevant skills will be encouraged to work with texts in the original languages.  Evaluation will be based on the level of understanding of - and engagement with - texts studied and the development of skills in textual analysis and writing as demonstrated in class participation, a series of short papers, and a final project.

Level: Intermediate. Prerequisites: none. Class limit: 20. Lab fee: $25. Meets the following degree requirements: HS

HS788Futures Studies

Are we approaching a point of radical change in human history in which exponential technological change will result in a "singularity", a transformation so rapid and fundamental that we will not be able to comprehend it? What will be the principal features of life on Earth in the mid-future - 20 to 40 years from now - and how should we best plan to deal with them? To what extent will they be the result of unavoidable historical trends, human planning and invention, or random contingencies? What skills and methods can we learn to imagine the future, invent it, predict it, plan for it and/or cope with it? This is an advanced course in human ecology that will adopt a very interdisciplinary approach. It will include readings in public policy by social scientists and futurists like Ray Kurzweil, Alvin Toffler, Otto Scharmer and James Martin as well as works in fiction and film. Classes will combine a seminar format for critical discussions of readings with exercises in using different methods for dealing with the future. These will include a weekend workshop in futures invention using methods developed by Warren Ziegler and Elise Boulding. This workshop will be open to public participation. Members of the COA community interested in renewing the College curriculum are especially encouraged to participate. Students will be expected to take part in leading seminar sessions, develop reports on alternative approaches to dealing with the future and visions of it, and do a major final project. The final project should a vision/description of some key features of a desired, possible future and strategies for promoting it. It may use interdisciplinary theories, predictive models, narrative, visual art or other creative approaches to developing it. Standards of evaluation will presume intermediate to advanced levels of competency in the disciplines used in the final project. There will be a weekly lab session. Level: Advanced. Pre-requisites: Signature of instr

HE1010Human Ecology Core Course

Human Ecology is the interdisciplinary study of the relationships between humans and their natural and cultural environments.  The purpose of this course is to build a community of learners that explores the question of human ecology from the perspectives of the arts, humanities and sciences, both in and outside the classroom.  By the end of the course students should be familiar with how differently these three broad areas ask questions, pose solutions, and become inextricably intertwined when theoretical ideas are put into practice.  In the end, we want students to be better prepared to create your own human ecology degree through a more in depth exploration of the courses offered at College of the Atlantic.  We will approach this central goal through a series of directed readings and activities.

Level:  Introductory.  Lab fee: $25.  Meets the following degree requirements: HE

HS2021Immersion Practica in Spanish and Yucatecan Culture

This course is intended to provide students with an immersion experience in the language and culture of Spanish speakers in the Yucatan Peninsula. The objectives are to increase their abilities to navigate the linguistic and cultural terrain of another society in sensitive, ethical, and effective ways.  Class sessions, visiting lecturers, field trips, and readings will provide background on the history and anthropology of  Yucatecan culture. Immersion experiences, living with a family, will provide one important source of experiential learning.  A second will be provided by an independent project or activity developed for each student based on the student's interests. This independent project will include a practicum experience in some institutional setting that might be a class room (e. g. an art class at the local university), a bakery, an internet café, a church group, or some other place for social service or other work relevant to a student's interests. This practicum experience will involve weekly activities during the term and more intensive work during the last three weeks.  Evaluation will be based on participation in weekly class discussions and on weekly reflective papers written in Spanish.  

Level: Introductory/Intermediate.  Class limit: 10.  Lab fee: TBA

HS775Immersion Program in French Language and Culture

This double credit course is offered through collaboration with CAVILAM university as part of the COA program in Vichy, France. For eight weeks, students take 20 hours a week of language classes and workshops taught by immersion methods and advanced audio-visual techniques. Students also live with host families in homestays and take part in a variety of cultural activities. They are carefully tested and placed at levels appropriate to their ability and are expected to advance in all four language skills - reading, writing, speaking and listening - as gauged by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages scale of learning levels. Level: Beginning to advanced (depending on prior language level). Requirements: co-enrollment in HS776 "Doing Human Ecology in Cross-cultural Contexts: France" and permission of instructor. Class limit: 12

HS3021Intermediate Spanish I

This course is for students who are competent in the use of basic Spanish structures, of the simple and compound of the indicative tenses, and some forms of the imperative tense. Objective: The students will be able to express themselves orally and through writing using a variety of vocabulary, the indicative and imperative moods, and some applications of the subjunctive mood. This includes a review of the present, preterite, future imperfect, preterite imperfect tenses, pronouns of object direct and indirect, imperative mood, expanded use of the "to be" and "is" verbs, the prepositions and simple conditional, the study and practice of the compound tenses of the indicative mood, present perfect, plus perfect, and future perfect. They will also study the subjunctive mood and verbs that express emotion. Evaluation Criteria:  two compositions, two auditory tests, two writing tests covering grammar, two oral tests, assignments/ homework, class participation.

Level:  Intermediate.  Offered every fall.  Class limit: 10.  Lab fee: $20

HS6012Learning a Language on Your Own

The goal of this course to help each student design and implement an effective learning program for the study of a language of her choice at whatever level of learning she is currently at.  A very wide variety of  general strategies, resources and practical advice for independent language learning are reviewed in  weekly class sessions along with progress and reflection reports from each student that can help guide and motivate independent work. The core common text for this work will be Betty Lou Leaver, Madeline Ehrman and Boris Shekhtman’s "Achieving Success in Second Language Acquisition".  The primary focus of the class is on the development and implementation of each student’s individually designed plan for learning a language of their choice.  Materials for this will be identified by each student as part of their work on their chosen language. Progress in these plans are discussed in one on one weekly meetings with the teacher.  Plans may include the use of software, peer tutors, Skype, videos, standard texts, flash cards, specialized technical material, music, visual art, field trips, and a wide variety of other materials as appropriate.  Evaluation will be based on the clarity, coherence and effectiveness of the student’s developed plan and the discipline with which they actually pursue it and revise it appropriately as the term progresses. Students will be asked to meet with the instructor prior to the start of the term to discuss their motivation, aims, possible resources and possible plans for language learning after the course is over.  

Level: Variable.  Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor.  Class limit: 10.  Lab fee: $35.

HS2018Left, Right and Future: Alternative Political Philosophies

This course looks at some of the key philosophies behind alternative political systems people around the world use to govern themselves or propose to use in the future. The aims of the course are: 1.) to increase specific knowledge about some important examples of alternative political philosophies and systems that embody them and 2) to develop analytic skills for understanding key systematic features of these alternatives, for evaluating their key merits and flaws, andn for advocating alternatives. Readings will include Plato's Republic, The Communist Manifesto, selections from fascist, liberal, and anarchist writers as well as some case study readings in comparative politics. There will be a strong emphasis on discussion skills and writing. Evaluation will be based on class participation and a series of short papers.  Especially recommended for people interested in community organizing, public policy work and education.

Level: Introductory/intermediate. Prerequisites: None. Meets the following degree requirements: HS

HS3052Numbers, Names, and Narratives: Doing H.E. in H.S.

This is a course for students who want to use history, anthropology and social science research in their work on community organizing, social change efforts or public policy advocacy. Human ecological approaches to such problems and studies require using interdisciplinary methods to integrate different points of view and different theories in a more comprehensive understanding of a person, text, situation or problem.  But how can we do that? What sorts of things are “methods”, “theories” and “disciplines” and how can they be integrated?  How is theoretical research related to practical action? How should we deal with the ethical issues that come up in research?  How do modern vs. post-modern or neo-liberal vs. neo-Marxist or hermeneutic vs. quantitative views of these things differ?      

The aim of this course is to develop students’ abilities to articulate different ways of framing these questions and answering and to develop their abilities to apply those questions and answers in projects in human ecology – including in internships, residencies and senior projects.  The class will examine a series of texts that provide case studies that address these problems at a practical as well as philosophical and methodological level. Work for the class will include a series of short papers and exercises that provide descriptions and critical analyses of texts read in class and provide applications of theories and methods to a project.

Texts used may include, for instance: ALBION’S SEED by David Hackett Fischer, THE EVALUATION OF CULTURAL ACTION by Howard Richards, THE ETHNOGRAPHIC METHOD by James Spradley, THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW by Wade Davis, THE TWO MILPAS OF CHAN KOM by Alicia Re Cruz, INTERDISCIPLINARY RESEARCH: PROCESS AND THEORY by Allen F. Repko, and a series of other short articles and chapters.

NOTE: This course is especially recommended for sophomores and juniors interested in pursuing advance work in Human Studies. A more advanced tutorial is available which is designed for students who are currently doing an internship, residency or senior project – including those who are off campus and would like to take part through distance learning. (See “Tutorial in Numbers, Names and Narratives: Challenges Mixing Methods, Theories, Planning Processes and Ethics in Human Ecology Projects”)

Final evaluations will be based on class participation,  (20%), short papers and homework exercises through the term (40%), and work on a final project (40%).

Level: Intermediate.  Lab fee $25.  Meets the following degree requirements: HS

HS2060Philosophies of Liberation

What is freedom, why might it be of value, how might it be obtained, and what consequences might liberation have for individuals, classes, genders, ethnic groups, races, nationalities or species? In a wide variety of political, social, religious and cultural movements, the notion of freedom as achieved by some kind of liberation is a central theme - and an essentially contested concept which means quite different things to different people. This course focuses on the philosophical tasks of sorting out those different meanings and critically analyzing the frameworks of ideas people use to make sense of their notions of freedom and projects of liberation. It will adopt an intellectual history approach that will include placing the texts in their social and historical as well as philosophical contexts. Readings will include works from Gandhi, Paulo Freire, and writers from the open source and creative commons movements as well as selections from feminist, Buddhist, neo-liberal, Marxist, existentialist, and other traditions. Goals of the course are: 1.) to develop students’ philosophical skills in the interpretation of texts in their historical context and the critical analysis of frameworks of ideas, 2.) to develop their critical understanding of alternative visions of freedom and liberation, and 3.) to develop their abilities to communicate sophisticated philosophical analysis in written and oral forms. Evaluations will be based on the demonstration of progress on these goals in class discussion, homework, short and medium sized papers and problem sets. 

Level: Introductory/Intermediate.  Prerequisites: none.  Class limit: 15.  Lab fee: $20.  Meets the following degree requirements: HS

HS2040Plato and "the Footnotes" through Foucault

Alfred North Whitehead once commented that the "The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato."  This course will explore Plato's original body of ideas and the methods he used to develop them through careful reading of a large number of dialogues and selections from key philosophers' responses to them. Key themes will include the relationships between ethics, metaphysics and epistemology, the theory of Ideas, the nature of political life, the roles of friendship and Eros in life,  "philo-sophia" as a way of life, and the figure of Socrates and Socratic method.

Readings will include Plato's LYSIS, MENO, LACHES, EUTHYPHRO, APOLOGY, CRITO, SYMPOSIUM, PHAEDRUS, GORGIAS and selections from others such as THE REPUBLIC, TIMAEUS, and PARMENIDES. In parallel with these texts we will also read very short selections from thinkers such as the Pre-Socratics, Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Dewey, de Beauvoir, Foucault, and Alyson Jaggar. For historical context we will also read selections from Pierre Hadot and others and study selections from the art and other key cultural documents including texts by Aristophanes, Xenophon and Thucydides.  

By the end of the course students should understand and be able to articulate key ideas and problematics in Plato and place them in their cultural context. They should also be able to critically analyze texts and ideas in oral discussion and in short written pieces by examining them for internal consistency and the adequacy with which they respond to the challenges presented by the problematics of  their own cultural setting as well as the light cast on them by critiques of subsequent philosophers.  Students will be evaluated on class participation, a series of short papers providing careful textual analysis, an in-class presentation on one of the dialogues and/or a subsequent philosopher’s response to it, and participation in a performance of some portion of one of the dialogues.

Level: Introductory/intermediate.  Prerequisites: none.  Class limit: 15.  Lab fee: $25.  Meets the following degree requirements: HS

HS3044Rights: Who or What Should Have Them and Why

How can and should talk about rights be used to influence and inform the ways we treat people, nature and corporations?  Central questions of justice are often framed in terms of rights of access to things like food and free speech or to protection from things like torture and extinction.  They are also framed in terms of arguments about who or what has these various rights – e. g. women, gays, children, corporations, trees, Nature, or even artificial intelligences. This course will use a seminar format to explore and critique key contemporary philosophical approaches to articulating and justifying answers to these sorts of questions. The goals of the course are to develop students’ understanding of these philosophical approaches and to engage these approaches and their applications through critical philosophical analysis.  Texts will include John Rawls JUSTICE AS FAIRNESS, Amartya Sen’s THE IDEA OF JUSTICE , and Christopher Stone’s SHOULD TREES HAVE STANDING, and readings from Marjorie Kelley’s THE DIVINE RIGHT OF CAPITAL, Ann Elizabeth Mayer’s ISLAM AND HUMAN RIGHTS,  and works by Giorgio Agamben, Robert Nozick, Alberto Acosta and others.  Students will take turns leading seminar discussions of the texts. Each will also do a term project developing a critical analysis of a philosophical point of view or a specific topic in rights theory. Evaluation will be based on seminar participation, short papers and the final project demonstrating philosophical understanding and critical skills.

Level: Intermediate.  Prerequisites: None, but previous work in philosophy and/or applied topics on rights recommended. Class limit: 12  Lab fee: none. Meets the following degree requirements: HS

HS4032The Arab Awakening and Emerging Issues in the Middle East

This is a reading course tied to participation in the annual foreign affairs conference in Camden (Feb 22-24).  Over the past several years, College of the Atlantic has developed a relationship with the conference that enables our students to engage the various events over the full three days. Every year highlights a particular theme, with a new set of focused panel discussions, national and international speakers, and readings. The 2013 Camden Conference will focus on the current status and future prospects of the Arab Awakening across the Middle East and its likely impacts upon U.S. policies and U.S. roles in the region. Topics will include: Political Developments and Public Order in Arab nations directly affected by the current ferment, Rise of Islamic Factions in Governing Roles as a result of recent elections, Effects among Palestinians and Impacts upon the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Regional Leverages and Rivalries, Prospects for Political Change in Iran and the state of U.S.-Iranian Relations especially in relation to tensions arising from the Iranian Nuclear Program, and  Policies the United States should adopt in response to the Arab Awakening. The course will be a reading intensive and discussion based seminar that will include works from both the conference reading list as well as supplemental works that focus especially on Egypt, Syria and Iran. The goals of the class are: 1.)  to prepare students to attend and play an active role in the kinds of policy analysis, discussions and debates  typified by this conference (attendance is a requirement of the class) and  2.)  to develop skills for doing individual and group research projects in comparative government and international relations. Evaluation will be based on class and conference participation, short written assignments, and written and oral presentations of group research on one of the three countries of focus. Students interested in the Middle East, international relations, global politics, diplomacy, US foreign policy, nonviolent social change movements, civil war and military strategy are especially encouraged to enroll. Students who have previously taken a Camden Conference course can also receive credit for this course and are encouraged to consider enrolling.

Level: Intermediate. Prerequisites: none. Lab fee: $100 (includes conference registration and lodging). Class limit: 12. Meets the following degree requirements: HS

HS2053This Changes Everything: Cases in Future Studies

This course examines strengths and weaknesses of different ways of dealing with the future by looking in depth at two case studies: climate change and artificial intelligence. When dealing with potential existential threats of these sorts, what are the powers and limits of specific methods for trying to know the future and/or act with regard to it? Of what use, for example, are tools such as trend spotting, extrapolation, quantitative modeling, prediction markets, SWOT analysis, imaging, narrative science fiction, scenario building, or Delphi processes of consensus? And what precisely are they useful for? Learning about the inevitability, probability or possibility of various futures? Or perhaps learning about ourselves our societies and the ways in which reality is currently constructed? And how can we frame meanings for our lives, our work, our communities and the social movements in which we may participate in order to act with integrity an d hope in the face of pressing problems that are "wicked" in character and may call for dramatic transformations? Readings on the climate change case study will focus on Naomi Klein's THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING: CAPITALISM VS. THE CLIMATE and critics of her work. Readings on artificial intelligence will include, for instance, James Barrat's OUR FINAL INVENTION and selections by Ray Kurzweil and Peter Bostrum. Readings on Futures Studies as a field of study and the specific methods within it will include, for example, selections from James Dator's anthology, ADVANCING FUTURES: FUTURE STUDIES IN HIGHER EDUCATION, the Millenium Project's STATE OF THE FUTURE, and works by Alvin Toffler, John Naisbitt, Eliezer Yudkowsky and Elise Boulding, as well as articles from THE FUTURIST. The course will include a weekend workshop in futures invention using methods developed by Warren Ziegler and Elise Boulding. This workshop will be open to public particip ation. Members of the COA community interested in renewing the College curriculum are especially encouraged to participate. The course goals are to: 1.) increase students' understanding of the possible uses and limitations of the broad range of methods in Futures Studies; 2.) develop student's abilities to apply and critically assess others' applications of these methods in substantive cases dealing with wicked problems; and 3.) develop students insight into the complexities and possible ways of addressing issues related to climate change and developments in artificial intelligence. Assignments will include a critical analysis paper on each of the two case studies, an inclass report on a Futures Studies/Action method, a reflective essay on the futures invention workshop, and a problem set on methods and their applications to the two case studies. Evaluation will be based on the extent to which class participation and performance in the assignments demonstrates significant advance in achieving the three core goals of the course.  

Level: Introductory/Intermediate.  Prerequisites: none.  Class limit: 15.  Lab fee: $25.  Meets the following degree requirements: HS

HS841Tutorial: Possible Future Paradigms

This tutorial explore the possibilities for very deep change in humanity?s framework for understanding and existing in the world. What are alternatives to the dominant paradigms of today and how can we best understand these alternatives? What might life on earth might be like in the near future? How will people live? How will people think? How will people organize themselves? Who will have power? What will we value? How and what will people eat and consume? How do paradigms shift? Will there even be a new dominant paradigm? How will we get there - by force or by choice? As the tutorial proceeds we will progressively focus the alternatives considered, the questions focused on and the ways in which they are dealt with based on student interest, findings in research and analysis we develop as a group. Members of the tutorial will meet weekly with the professor to discuss readings and short response papers. Mid-way through the term they will conduct interviews with an array of faculty and students. They will also aim to have a weekly open forum for discussion with members of the COA community at large, to provide wider perspective and more ideas. The final project will be for students to craft a large scale concept/idea map of the material encountered in the term which will include their own vision of a future world. Students will be evaluated on the extent to which their comments in discussion and in the weekly open forums, their response papers and their final projects demonstrate: a thorough and critical reading of texts; a progressively deeper grasp of the contents of the texts; the ability to articulate and analyze systems of ideas cogently; the ability to think creatively and concretely about alternative futures paradigms; the ability to write clear, effective, analytic texts; and an ability to design and pursue independent lines of inquiry and self-directed learning on their own.