First Week Review

 June 27, 2009


Leopold Institute Scholars,


Please read this through, as there are 6 evaluation questions at the end. Bring or send your responses to the 6 questions by Monday. Obviously, if you email your response it won’t be anonymous, so if you prefer anonymity, write out your answers and bring them Monday. 


So … the goal of the first week was to provide you with a basic introduction to:


- the life of Aldo Leopold

- the historical and cultural contexts (i.e., Native American) that may have affected Leopold

- the geographical landscape that Leopold stepped into in 1909 (well, some of it)

- some of the ways Leopold’s views apply today

- the curriculum design project

- the exhibit design project


Now that you’ve been bombarded with a lot of ideas, it’s time to start narrowing and specifying, both in terms of content and your individual projects. Next week, Julianne will focus primarily on the intellectual journey that Leopold took – the concepts, people, literature, and events that shaped his thinking. As you know, when he left the Southwest for Wisconsin in 1924 he was a very different thinker than he was when he arrived in Arizona in 1909. Similarly, when Leopold penned those last lines in his notebook on the morning of April 21, 1948, just before he left to help a neighbor put out a grass fire, he was a different thinker than the man who arrived in Wisconsin in 1924. How can we describe, model, and even replicate that intellectual journey in our teaching and research?


So, come prepared for a lively discussion with Julianne during the first three morning sessions, and in the Monday and Tuesday afternoon group work, we hope you’ll begin to identify readings and methods for your course design. Julianne has developed some interesting questions for you to wrestle with during the group discussions, questions that we hope will challenge you but also help shape your course. As Joan mentioned, our plan for next week’s group meetings is to arrange you more or less by disciplines; the third and fourth weeks we hope you will begin to self-select people to help design your courses. It probably goes without saying but let us say it anyway: We don’t really care what your course looks like or what tools and methods you use; what’s important is that you craft something that is valuable to you. 


On Wednesday afternoon our guest speaker, Max Oelschlaeger (author of the biggest, fattest book on the intellectual underpinnings of wilderness theory, The Idea of Wilderness), will begin to build a bridge between Julianne’s survey and the “Larger Meaning of it All” that Callicott will take up in Week Three. Max straddles both hemispheres, so his talk at Highlands Nature Center will serve as that link. (At least that’s our plan, but as Curt reminded us yesterday on the bus, “If you want to make God laugh, just tell him your plans.”) We’ll also try to be tougher taskmasters so you’re out of the afternoon sessions by 3:00 PM and have more time for individual study. Wednesday we'll also carve out some time so you can meet with Wilsonia Cherry from NEH.


Thursday’s field trip to Montezuma Castle and Arcosanti will feel like a short commute compared to the first trip. (Again, if you want to take friends or family, let us know.) On this trip we’ll meet with Betsy Brandt, who has studied and published on American Indian land values, as well as Paolo Soleri at Arcosanti, whose concept of “arcology” (architecture + ecology) has a decidedly Leopoldian bent to it. (Paolo was a student of Frank Lloyd Wright’s, which prompts another interesting question: Did Wright and Leopold ever meet, since they were both in Arizona and Wisconsin saying similar things at the same time?) We have attached a brief 3-page PDF file, which is an introduction to a new book on Soleri compiled by Lissa McCullough (whose father, by the way, has written on Leopold – small world!). But this will give you a sense of Soleri’s philosophy, and perhaps trigger some thoughts about the relationship between arcology and the Land Ethic. (Lissa, who we will just miss by a couple days at Arcosanti, agreed to share this draft introduction to her new book, but please do not copy or share it outside of the institute.)


On Friday, then, when the museum’s education curator Mick Woodcock joins us, we’ll have more time to consider the exhibit project in groups and class discussion: How you might shape it and how might it (or a similar interpretive project) fit into your course design.  


For those of you in town Sunday, please join us at the Gurley Street Grill at 6:00 PM to meet Julianne – on the patio. For everyone, please send or bring your responses to these 6 questions by or on Monday. Thanks.


First Week Evaluation Questions

1. Did the Monday-Wednesday discussions with Curt Meine meet your expectations? If so, what one thing stood out as helpful? If not, what was missing?

2. Did the guest speaker, Rebecca Tsosie, add an important perspective to the first week’s conversation? If so, what one thing will you take away from her talk? If not, what was missing?

3. Did the Thursday field trip contribute to your understanding and/or appreciation of Leopold’s work? If so, what one thing did you take away from the trip? If not, what could we have done differently?

4. Did the exhibit design project help you to think about how you might teach Leopold’s ideas differently? If so, what one thing stood out as useful? If not, how might we reframe this project?

5. Is the pace of the institute appropriate? From a scheduler’s perspective, how might we change the institute’s design to make it more helpful?

6. Anything else?


Soleri.pdf57.12 KB