Environmental Psychology at Rocky Mountain National Park Donna McMillan St. Olaf College
This course examines ways in which the natural environment is psychologically significant, considering questions such as: • What does nature mean to people? • What do we value about the natural world? What psychological needs are addressed in our encounters with nature? • How are we affected by nature? • What influences people’s attitudes and behaviors toward the environment? • How have human actions affected the environment, and what can psychology offer regarding environmental problems?
Case study of a current controversy: The battle for Niyamgiri, a mountain in northeast India • The Dongria Kondh, a tribe in Orissa, are opposing mining of their sacred homeland by the British Vedanta aluminum company. • Video (12 minutes) Mine: Story of a Sacred Mountainwww.survivalinternational.org/films/mine
Readings: • Jagger, B. (June 13,2010). The battle for Niyamgiri. Guardian.co.uk. • Totman, C. (2005). Asia’s environment, 1900-2000. Education About Asia, 10(2), 12-18.
Some issues raised by Niyamgiri • Industrialization vs. indigenous ways of life: Who decides what constitutes a good life? Isn’t development a good thing? • The natural world: sacred ground or lucrative resource? Ecocentrism and anthropocentrism. • What psychological issues are associated with environmental damage, violence, and displacement? • What rights do we consider basic human rights? • What interconnections exist within an ecosystem (including humans)?
Additional Sources: Asia & the Environment • Sato, J. (2004). From “natural wealth” to “resources”: Simplification of nature in Asia. In T. Sasaki (Ed.). Nature and human communities (pp. 111-122). Tokyo: Springer. • Komiyama, H., & Osawa, T. (2004). Global sustainability and the role of Asia. In T. Sasaki (Ed.). Nature and human communities (pp. 187-216). Tokyo: Springer. • Bruun, O., & Kalland, A. (1995). Images of nature: An introduction to the study of man-environment relations in Asia. In O. Bruun & A. Kalland (Eds.). Asian perceptions of nature: A critical approach (pp. 2-24). Curzon Press. • Husain, Z. (Ed.). (2003). Environmental issues of north east India. New Delhi: Regency Publications. • Hendry, J. (1997). Nature tamed: Gardens as a microcosm of Japan’s view of the world. In P.M. Asquith & A. Kalland (Eds.) Japanese images of nature: Cultural perspectives (pp.83-105). Curzon Press. • Miri, S. (2001). Ethics and environment. Delhi: Spectrum Publications.
Buddhist, Jain, and Hindu Perspectives on the Natural World • Hershock, P. D. (2009). Liberating environments. Buddhism in the public sphere: Reorienting global interdependence (pp. 13-38). Routledge. • Tucker, M.E., & Williams, D.R. (1998). Buddhism and ecology: The interconnection of dharma and deeds. Harvard University Press. • Ramanujam, G. (2006). Environmental awareness in Jainism. Chennai: University of Madras. • Chapple, C.K. (Ed.) (2002). Jainism and ecology: Nonviolence in the web of life. Harvard University Press. • Chapple, C.K., & Tucker, M.E. (Eds.). (2000). Hinduism and ecology: The intersection of earth, sky, and water. Center for the Study of World Religions.
Tribal Groups and the Natural Environment • Das, R.K. (2004). Examining the traditional tribal way of maintaining a balance between society and environment. In M. Desai & M.K. Raha (Eds.). The dying earth: People’s action and nature’s reaction (pp. 438-446). Kolkata: ACB Publications. • Chowdhuri, M.K. (2004). Primitive tribes in a changing environment. In M. Desai & M.K. Raha (Eds.). The dying earth: People’s action and nature’s reaction (pp. 427-437). Kolkata: ACB Publications. • Sarkar, A., & Dasgupta, S. (2000). Ethno-ecology of Indian tribes: Diversity in cultural adaptation. Jaipur: Rawat Publications. • Chowdury, A.N., & Weiss, M.G. (2004). Eco-stress and mental health in Sundarban Delta, India. In M. Desai & M.K. Raha (Eds.). The dying earth: People’s action and nature’s reaction (pp. 108-119). Kolkata: ACB Publications.
Additional Courses in Which I’m Considering Incorporating South Asia Materials • Personality Psychology reading: Brazier, D. (2002). The feeling Buddha: A Buddhist psychology of character, adversity, and passion. Palgrave Macmillan. • Positive Psychology reading: Levine, M. (2009). The positive psychology of Buddhism and yoga: Paths to a mature happiness, 2nd ed. Routledge.
Additional Course Materials, cont. • Abnormal Psychology reading & discussion: Tsutsui, W.M. (2008). Nerd nation: Otaku and youth subcultures in contemporary Japan. Education About Asia, 13(3), 12-18. Discussion issues include: - What is “normal” and what is “abnormal”? - Similarity to “internet addiction;” Are these behaviors psychological disorders? - To what extent does the medical model of psychopathology fit here? - Role of culture in human behavior