The Natural Environment and the Human Psyche

This FYP will focus on how cognition, stress levels, and coping skills are affected by spending time in a natural environment, in contrast with an engineered environment. The course will ask students to spend time outdoors “unplugged.” Some of this time will include visits to the Sustainability Farm site, where students will get their hands dirty—literally. We will consider texts from cognitive psychology, natural history, and human physiology. Class discussion and class experiences will examine how our bodies, our minds, and our psyches respond to a number of stimuli and contexts, including noise vs. silence, natural vs. artificial light, constant “connectedness” (through cell phones etc.) vs. un-mediated experiences, and natural sleep (e.g., no alarm clock) vs. inadequate sleep. In a capstone project, students will collaborate with Ecosystem, Eggplant, and Entrepreneurship. Four community meals at the Sustainability Semester farm will facilitate this collaboration. Weather permitting, we will be outside for many of the class meetings for the first 8 weeks. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.

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