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Earth Studies Program Course Catalog
Transcript of Earth Studies Program Course Catalog
What is Earth Studies Program (ESP)?
An antidote to mechanistic scientific dogma
and seeds for new cultural maps for navigation
Earth 101: The ESP Core
The core of ESP is Earth 101, an integrated sequence of lecture
and reading seminars that explain the basics of each category:
Systems 101, Life 101, Geophysiology 101, Climate 101, Adaptability 101 and Intelligence 101.
What are the main topics in ESP?
Basic systems principles, notably self-organization, emergence, non-linearity, disequilibrium, edge of chaos, fractals, power laws ...
Life: what it is, how it functions, why it exists (from a scientific perspective), how it evolves via genetic variation, natural selection and symbiogenesis
The origins of life on Earth and why it exists in many places in our universe
Our living Earth: what it is, its homeostasis (self-regulation) and metabolism as studied by geophysiology, and its 4.5 billion (4,500 million) year history
Adaptability and resilience to abrupt climate change, including:
meeting basic needs of shelter, water, food, energy, health care, etc
promoting new, Earth-centric world views and cultural maps for survival
Abrupt climate change as a symptom of disruption of Earth's metabolism and homeostasis, which is a much more serious problem
A history of human relationship to and views of Earth and nature, from paleolithic to modern times, and the new view based in system sciences and geophysiology
Life 101 examines radical new answers to the age-old question, What is Life? Our new model is that it is not a substance or a force, but a process called autopoiesis. We use two texts. First is What is Life? by Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan. Second is Franklin Harold's The Way of the Cell : Molecules, Organisms and the Order of Life (chapters 1 – 5, 10 and 11). Both are written for educated lay readers with no background in biology or science. A joy to read, they are perfect for non-scientists, yet offer an outstanding update and synthesis for biologists and educators, with enough details to be meaningful to scientists but written in a narrative style rather than technical . Add occassional well-honed lectures by Alder developed over decades of teaching biology, integrating principles from Systems 101 to help you through the more technical sections, and this course is guaranteed to change your understanding of the process of life - including your own - in deeply profound ways.
Geophysiology 101: an introduction to the science of our living Earth, based on Animate Earth: Science, Intuition and Gaia by Stephen Harding. Topics: Earth's ‘metabolism’ – global scale cycles of carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, calcium, etc; homeostasis – the processes by which Earth has self-regulated the temperature and chemistry of its atmosphere and oceans at conditions suitable for life for over 3.5 billion (3,500 million) years; how Earth’s homeostasis works using a model called Daisyworld; a history of life and its role in regulation; why Earth's climate is unstable and sensitive to perturbations; Earth's current potential climate states: ice ages, interglacials (now) and heating events causing mass extinctions; how mechanistic science has promoted a 'dominance over nature' world view that has contributed significantly to our ecological crisis and is being replaced by system sciences.
A reading seminar based on this book. Dumanoski grounds humanity's daunting challenges in a cogent, no-holds-barred analysis of western values and worldviews (or 'cultural maps'), arguing that we must replace our “obsolete and dangerous” views and practices based in mechanistic views with a revolutionary new cultural map grounded in knowledge of our species' evolutionary history and geophysiology. Topics: historical factors that have led to the current planetary crisis; lessons from the ozone hole – and others that we didn't; the misconception that climate will change in a smooth, gradual process occurring over a century; lessons about adaptability from the 2-million year history of our species; the dangers of geo-engineering; how we can 'shock-proof' culture using principles that make natural ecosystems more stable; the need for new 'cultural maps' based in geophysiology.
This seminar is perfect for those wanting more details after Climate 101. We read and discuss Fred Pearce's well-documented and sobering account of our climate crisis from the perspective of top climate scientists. The book can only be described as riveting, difficult to put down. Topics include: status of atmospheric gas concentrations, ice caps, oceans, forests and the tropics; knowledge of past climate changes; the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM); melting permafrost; methane clathrates; mega-fires; El Nino/La Nina; ozone; intensifying storms; and desertification. Pearce punctures the arguments of 'deniers' while simultaneously - and justifiably - criticizing IPCC models as inadequate because they fail to fully represent non-linear elements in the climate system that result in abrupt and rapid changes.
Emotional Intelligence - abbreviated as EI - is best defined as our capacity to perceive, express, understand and manage our own emotions and the emotions of others in an effective and appropriate manner, both in the workplace and in our personal lives. This body of knowledge and these behavioral skills are crucial for individuals and organizations dealing with the intense emotions that can and will emerge during the social, civil, economic and ecological collapses caused by abrupt climate change.
Taught by Ermah Ge associate Carmine Leo, lifecoaching.com,
with contributions from Alder
Naural Intelligence 101 is a reading seminar based on Simon G. Powell's important book. While fully acknowledging the importance of natural selection in evolution, he explains deficiencies in contemporary neo-Darwinian evolution theory, explaining why it is oversimplified and incomplete. But he is equally critical of the ‘intelligent design’ movement, which he calls a veiled creationism. He then ventures “beyond both ... to gain a fresh perspective on evolution … No new processes are invoked in order to achieve this new perspective.” Using principles from system sciences, notably self-organization, he argues that there is an inherent intelligence in nature - albeit not a conscious one - that he calls 'natural intelligence (NI) that surpasses human intelligence. His ideas are radical, and dictate a major shift in our understanding of nature, life, Earth, and our relationship with them necessary to meet the great challenges of this century and beyond.
This seminar - a logical followup to Signs of Life for those seeking greater depth about self-organization - is based on the most accessible and thorough overview to the relatively new science of non-equilibrium thermodynamics (NET) introduced in Systems 101. It will deeply change your understanding of nature and life. Topics: a history of classical thermodynamics and why it is egregiously incomplete); a simplification of the 2nd law of thermodynamics using gradients; numerous examples of self-organization; cycles; ecosystem function and development; origins and evolution of life; and why life evolved, previously relegated to philosophy and theology, but now, we can understand it scientifically.
A reading seminar punctuated by short lectures, based on this engaging book applying all principles from Systems 101. After two great intro chapters explaining said principles in greater depth, the authors then apply them to living systems - cells, metabolism, genetic networks, physiology, neural networks and brains, social insects (termites, ants and bees), ecosystems and evolution - summarizing numerous relevant articles from professional journals.
A must study for biology students and teachers.
Have you ever wished that mathematics could be re-invented to make it easier, more visual, intuitive and useful for anyone, including non-mathematicians? If so, then this course is for you. It is about a new kind of 'equation-less', image-based mathematics called computational systems; examples include cellular automata and Turning machines. The text is Stephen Wolfram's epic book New Kind of Science (NKS), available free online. (Search "NKS".) In ways more powerful than calculus, yet the basics can be taught to middle school students. Numbers, letters, square roots, equations and X/Y graphs are replaced by stunning images of cascading patterns produced by computers using simple rules that speak volumes about nature and life. Wolfram also proposes an entirely new way of doing science.
This reading seminar punctuated by short lectures is based on two books: Symbiotic Planet: A New Look at Evolution by Lynn Margulis, and Acquiring Genomes: A Theory of the Origins of Species by Margulis with son Dorion Sagan. Together, they tell an elegant and fascinating story of Margulis's new theory of evolution – symbiogenesis - which posits that above the level of bacteria, new species emerge not by mutation and natural natural selection alone but also by symbiosis among existing species. This theory is also the major model explaining the origins
of eukaryotic (nucleated) cells.
This course focuses on evolution for the first 3 billion years before animals, fungi and plants. Topics: the debate about 5 kingdoms versus 3 domains; the origins of life and 4 billion years of evolution with divisions into eons, eras and periods; origins of fermentation, nitrogen fixation, DNA repair, sex, photosynthesis, respiration; chemical cycles on early Earth (H, C, O, N, S, P); origins of cell nucleus, chromosomes, mitochondria, chloroplasts and undulipodia (like cilia); movement inside cells ('motor molecules'); the function and evolution of mitosis and meiosis; the origin of animal embryos; the origins of multicellular organisms. The genius of natural intelligence via natural selections will astound you. A must for biology students and teachers.
This seminar focuses on his first 4 chapters dealing with Gaia, geophysiology and climate rather than Lovelocks controversial solutions in later chapters. His explanation of Gaia – what it is, what it is not, and most importantly a detailed look at how self-regulation happens, all of which is brilliantly explained. Topics: planetary-scale metabolism and homeostasis; the role of air, oceans, rocks and the biosphere in self-regulation; the Daisyworld model of planetary-scale self-regulation; Gaia's origin and evolution via natural selection; the relevance of geophysiology to understanding climate change; our 21st century forecast: hot, chaotic, extreme, violent; implications for communities, regions and civilization, which is explained in much greater detail in Climate 101.
How does abrupt climate change as explained in Climate 101 translate into the weather that we see in Maine on a day to day basis during the 21st century, and how will that influence our day to day activities like shelter building, food production and water availability? This seminar, co-taught with meteorologist Ed Hummel, examines those questions. Topics include explanation of basic principles such energy transfer processes in the atmosphere, convection cells and patterns, general atmospheric circulation, jet stream patterns and oscillations (e.g, Arctic Oscillation and El Nino), high and low pressure systems, structure and movement of fronts, and extreme weather events including tornadoes and tropical cyclones.
Lessons for individual and species survival based on books by Lawrence Gonzales. Deep Survival examines case studies of survivors of life threatening situations - mountaineering accidents, plane crashes in remote areas, sinking boats, war survivors, POW's, serious illness - and identifies 12 rules for survival. Everyday Survival is subtitled "Why Smart People Do Stupid Things", and examines how people get into life threatening situations. Both have relevance to our species at the beginning of a 1-in-50 million-year climate change event. The latter is also a great introduction to non-equilibrium thermodynamics, or NET.
This reading seminar is based on the book by Jack Turner, PhD (philosophy of wilderness), a mountaineer and climbing guide in the Grand Tetons. It addresses the distinction between wilderness (as defined in the US) and wildness from the context of system sciences. His final chapter includes explicit reference to almost every principle addressed in Systems 101. Here’s the publisher's description: “How wild is wilderness and how wild are our experiences in it, asks Jack Turner.... His answer: not very wild. National parks and even so-called wilderness areas fall far short of offering the primal, mystic connection possible in wild places. And this is so, Turner avows, because any managed land, never mind what it's called, ceases to be wild. Moreover, what little wildness we have left is fast being destroyed by the very systems designed to preserve it. He argues for a new conservation ethic that focuses less on preserving things and more on preserving process and 'leaving things be.' He [criticizes] zoos and wilderness tourism ..., and cautions us to resist language that calls a tree 'a resource' and wilderness 'a management unit.' .... Turner stirs into his arguments the words of dozens of other American writers including Thoreau, Hemingway, Faulkner, and environmentalist Doug Peacock. We hunger for a kind of experience deep enough to change our selves, our form of life, writes Turner.”
This reading seminar is one of my most advanced; thus, the more courses from systems and life before engaging this one the better. Emergence is addressed first in Systems 101: when collections of ‘parts’ interact to form a system, new properties 'emerge' that are not fully explained by the parts. It acknow-ledges that when parts interact, the resulting complexity is too great for the mind to analyze. After three chapters on history and basic concepts, Morowitz addresses emergence of the following: stars; elements and the periodic table; solar systems and planets; cells, animals, vertebrates, reptiles and mammals; the great apes and humans; tool making; language; agriculture and technology; cities; science and religion.
This course offers an introduction to the science of immunity from a systems sciences perspective by immunologist and systems thinker Irun Cohen. It offers a radical new model of the human immune system that resolves a critical flaw in immune theory taught in most college-level biology courses relating to the problem of 'self' recognition and auto-immune diseases. It also ties immunology to a new view of cognition and consciousness via autopoiesis.
A reading seminar based on the book How Nature Works: The Science of Self-Organized Criticality (SOC) by Per Bak that offers a detailed exploration of the relationship between fractals - objects that are 'self-similar' on many scales (the parts look like the whole) - and power laws, mathematical descriptions of the fact that in all of nature, small changes - like earthquakes, avalanches, species extinctions, volcanic eruptions, asteroid strikes, economic trends, changes in health, etc - are common whereas large changes are infrequent. But the mathematical relationship between large and small changes is stunningly precise.
This seminar is an introduction to 'classical' chaos theory and fractal geometry. The book was written as a text for math-phobes, those who are afraid of or intimidated by mathematics at Yale University; its forward is by the founder of fractal geometry, Benoit Mandelbrot. It explains in a step-by-step, engaging manner - leaving no stone unturned - the details of the mathematics involved aided by effective graphics. Yet even math teachers will find this a worthy book, and it is especially relevant to math teachers from middle school to university. This course is perfect for the mathematically curious, and a 'must study' for math students and teachers. However, I recommend studying at least the first six chapters of NKS before engaging this more "classical" material.
This seminar applies several principles from Systems 101 - notably edge of chaos, disequilibrium, self-organization and emergence - to the successful operation of businesses, corporations (including Fortune 500), institutions and organizations. From the cover: "Surfing the Edge of Chaos is a brilliant, powerful, and practical book about the parallels between business and nature - two fields that feature nonstop battles between the forces of tradition and the forces of transformation. It offers a bold new way of thinking about and responding to the personal and strategic challenges everyone in business faces these days." Ermah Ge will follow these principles as an educational collective and emerging institute.
An exploration of the science of global heating and climate change by physicist and historian of science Spencer Weart using selected essays from his extensive web site, sponsored by the American Institute of Physics. Each essay addresses the current state of all areas of climate research - the modern temperature trend; ice ages; CO2 and other gases; oceans and ocean currents; the biosphere (acknowledge Gaia theory); models; rapid climate change, and other topics. Importantly, each essay also addresses the history of the science of each of those topics; how our view of Earth's climate has changed - sometimes radically in a short time - based on new data and models; and how the climate change deniers have confused the public by dwelling on the (now corrected) mistakes instead of current understanding. He cites sources in published scientific literature for every fact and figure so that they can be verified by anyone.
This fun seminar examines knowledge, tools and skills useful for outdoor adventures and 'primitive living' even if sometimes using modern tools. It is named after 'bush people' or indigenous cultures like native Americans, Inuits, Kalahari bush people, and Australian aboriginals. There are three motivations for this course. One, fun and new skills for outdoors people! Two, becoming more familiar with the natural wisdom of primal people and their knowledge of our natural world. Three, some of these techniques - especially building fires without matches and cooking - may be of value in natural disaster which are predicted to become more frequent with climate change. We must not assume that government agencies will always come promptly to our rescue.
There are three primary sources of information used in the class. One, text Bushcraft by Mors Kochanski of British Columbia, a wealth of knowledge on fire, knives and axes (including safety!), shelter building, wild foods, etc. Two are videos by British bushcraft teacher Ray Mears who spends equal time on techniques and on the wisdom of the cultures from all over the world with whom he studies. Three, personal knowledge by the instructors - including some guest teachers - and from participants themselves. This is a hands
on course that is mostly taught outdoors.
Like organisms, Gaia contains complex cycles and material transformations driven by biological energy. But Gaia also differs from organisms in significant ways. Although it has changed through time, it does not evolve in a Darwinian sense. It exists according to its own level of operating rules, a level as complex as that of organisms and the subject of the emerging field known as Earth physiology, or geophysiology. Blending science and evocative imagery, Gaia's Body offers an engaging introduction to this new field. It explains how every important chemical in the atmosphere is regulated by living processes -- why, for example, strange, spaghetti-like bacteria off the coast of Chile have an intimate connection with the plants in Long Island backyards; why "biochemical guilds" may be Earth's most important unit of life; and how scientists have detected the biosphere's "breathing."
Exploring what they call "the ancient propensity of life to mix itself productively, creatively, surprisingly", the authors range broadly over such disciplines as comparative primatology, microbiology, and linguistics as they attempt to explain the mysteries and marvels of the sexual impulse. Necessary to survival, sex is an obsession -- the root of all kinds of animal behavior from romance to aggression. Sex excites our bodies and transfixes our imaginations, making us realize that we need each other just to be. What Is Sex? takes readers on a fascinating billion-year journey through all of the permutations that the subject holds: the origins of gender, the sexual strategies of life forms from mito-chondria to humans, the language of sexual display and deception. Luminously written, gloriously illustrated, and marked with the credibility that only a world-class scientist and her award-winning collaborator can grant, What Is Sex? is an exuberant, provocative and original work.
Why enroll in a class v simply reading the book on your own?
First, two seminars - Systems 101 and Climate 101 - have no text yet, but are based on Alder's lectures and notes. Second, Alder's extensive experience at explaining complex scientific concepts to anyone with any background, and his ability to tie concepts in one text to numerous others will lead to significantly greater depth of comprehension and synthesis. Third, reading and studying in the company of other students adds to both enjoyment and depth of learning via feedback.
Note from Alder: When I read this book in December, 2013, it was truly a life-changing experience, adding a profound new depth to my understanding of evolution, and changing the way I view Nature
and my relationship to it.
One: continue pressing the space bar to advance clockwise through all advanced seminar descriptions starting with Systems.
Two: Select only the specific seminars that interest you. There are in turn two ways to do this:
Ermah Ge's college-level program - unique in the US in scope and depth - for adult learners seeking
a radical and profound new scientific understanding everything in nature
, including their own lives and our living Earth, as different from mechanistic sciences as day from night.
These seminars have evolved over 13 years. They are not a random collection, but highly integrated and tell an important story necessary for our species survival beyond this century.
Participants choose their level, rate of participation
and - with guidance - direction of study, i.e., which topics
There are six component categories in ESP:
that apply to everything in nature
from a systems perspective
, the science of our living Earth
Climate change (C)
of the abrupt, chaotic and extreme kind
... v adaptation; there's an important difference
, focusing on a new concept, natural intelligence
A course catalog
Earth Studies Program
You have completed the descriptions for
the Earth 101 introductory sequence.
If you wish to examine Ermah Ge's advanced seminars and courses, please continue to the next slide.
Ermah Ge and Community Supported Education slide show
For enrollment, to become a shareholder or for more information:
This is a snapshot of the next slide showing the relationship between the six Earth 101 introductory seminars and our more advanced seminars.
Note that for each category, there are two or three levels, with level 3 being most advanced. Each seminar is labeled by categories and level; e.g., 2S, 3L, or 2LG, the latter indicating a class that addresses multiple categories.
The arrows indicate the best paths from the introductory seminars of Earth 101 into the more advanced courses of each category: systems (S), life (L), geophysiology (G), climate (C), adaptability (A) and intelligence (I).
Henceforth, there are two viewing options.
Unproductive leadership states
Productive leadership states
2A: Mouse over the control panel at bottom of the screen exposing the slider bar which you can slide horizontally to get a thumbnail of each slide. (See image to left.)
Example: use slider to select slide #28 in the upper left of the screen.
2B: Click outside of a circle and drag the screen to center the circle of choice, then zoom in and out using your mouse wheel or the zoom icons on the right of the screen. Alternatively, to zoom out, click anywhere outside of a circle.
This method may be challenging until you learn how to do it effectively!
A note about costs ...
Because Ermah Ge operates as a Community Supported Education (CSE) collective, we state our course prices in terms of '
' (or fractions there of), which are explained in our slide show on the CSE concept; you'll find a link to it at two places in this slide show.
Average cost: 1 - 1.5 shares (divided among all participants)
Average cost: 1.2 shares (divided among all participants)
Cost: 1.2 shares
(divided among all participants)
Cost: 1 share (again,
total cost for all participants)
Cost: 1 share (again, total cost for all participants)
Note that most seminars have a typical most common length (number of hours of class time) but can also be customized for special groups to be shorter or longer.
Since Systems 101 is about 12 hours long, it costs 1.2 shares in its most common format
That is NOT a cost per person, but the total cost for all students.
Thus, the fee can be paid by one shareholder (for a personal tutoring experience) or divided among multiple share holders, with each deciding how much to contribute to meet the total seminar cost.
Briefly, one share is equivalent to payment for 10 hours of class time.
Intelligence: what it is, how it evolves, and what kinds of entities exhibit it.
Study is recursive: the more you study each one, the deeper your understanding of the whole. Yet understanding is not additive, but multiplicative, even exponential.
One can complete the entire sequence before branching
into advanced courses, or branch off at any point.
While one can theoretically start anywhere in that sequence, the best starting point is Systems 101.
Earth 101 Introductory overview: detailed with topics and images
Note: click on links; your cursor will not change to a pointing finger