This week was a shout out to the 2014 Environmental Studies Symposium: We the Anthropos. In addition to focusing on the Anthropocene, we examined the different views of reality in the Anthropocene. Many of these views had to do with what our view of nature is: is it wild and untouched or is it tame and nurtured like a garden?
To start with, what is the Anthropocene? The Anthropocene is “a new epoch of the earth, one in which humans dominate its landforms, biota, and atmosphere, one in which nature is no longer as natural as it once was (or seemed)” (Proctor 2013). There is disagreement about how long this era has been in existence, why the Anthropocene came about, and what we should do about it. Some say the Anthropocene has been around since the existence of humans, others have said it began around the industrial revolution when we began using more technology.
In terms of evaluating different views of reality, we discussed three possible reactions: monism, dualism, and counting beyond two. Monism is a view in which there is only one possible answer, dualism argues that there is something better to replace a certain viewpoint, and counting beyond two presents ideas as more complex and informed. Below I will post a chart of some examples of monism, dualism, and counting beyond two that we came up with.
Monism, Dualism, Counting Beyond Two
deep ecology, immigration (us vs. them), gender as a spectrum
natural culture/cultural nature, nature over culture, there have always been more realities than just nature or culture
we are one with nature, local vs. global, diversify outlets for media representation of earthquake preparedness
environmental education, knowledge over experience, place-based education
I think everyone could see this coming since it’s what I always relate back to, but I see place-based education as counting beyond two. It’s a more complicated and informed way of learning. The only problem with counting beyond two is that there are always more ways to think about things. It’s much easier to teach people in dichotomies: right vs. wrong, black vs. white, male vs. female, real vs. fake. But while counting beyond two there are webs of connections, grey areas, and value based judgement. This way of understanding the world creates a more nuanced understanding of things, but at the same time it feels like there is never an answer because the answer is always growing. Instead of “yes or no,” counting beyond two is “it depends” or “yes, and…” It can feel like there are an infinite amount of answers, which can be overwhelming. Thinking back to our introductory environmental studies course, I remember many people feeling overwhelmed with all the interdisciplinary aspects of the problems we were learning about — which, to my knowledge, is why we utilize the situated approach. We count beyond two but focus on a certain place where all those numbers intersect.