Assignments

 

As a student in LTWL 136 your grade will be based upon three assignments, plus class attendance and participation. The assignments are:

  1. Quotation Journal
  2. Plant Companion Experiment
  3. Class Presentation

Quotation Journal

While doing the reading for every class you should copy down quotations that you find particularly intriguing, enlightening, meaningful, or otherwise important.

After each quotation you copy, you should write at least one full paragraph explaining your rationale for choosing that passage. Your grade for this exercise will be based upon your explanations and reasons. So if you write things like: “I thought it was cool” or “I liked what the author said here” you will receive a very low grade. In other words, I expect you to engage with the author intellectually and/or emotionally. Choose passages that speak to you, and articulate why.

I want you to keep this journal on paper – not electronically. I particularly like the “Decomposition Books” available through amazon.com. You should write at least one full page (including the quoted passage) per class meeting. One page per class is the minimum. There is no maximum.

Plant Companion Experiment

Select a plant to be your plant companion for the quarter. At least one hour each week, sit with your selected plant companion (or in it, or, if the plant is large enough, on it). Keep a journal in which you reflect on the experience of cultivating a relationship with your plant companion. (You can use the same journal that you use for quotations. Just make sure you demarcate which pages are dedicated to the PCE.)

What should you include in your journal? Perhaps you can begin by reflecting on why you chose that particular plant. Work then to name the species of the plant, describe the general characteristics of the species, and indicate if the plant is a species native to the San Diego region. If you are able, include a history (brief) of the species and the particular plant that would be an interesting entrance into the project. For example, suppose you select a large tree and learn that it is one of our eucalypti. You might determine the age of the tree — which may indicate if the tree was on the land before the campus grew around it or if the tree was planted by people on the campus. You will probably want to explore (if it’s possible) the history of that particular plant. We will discuss the project at various points throughout the quarter.

Possible other journal entries for your PCE: drawing the plant, writing a letter to the plant, introducing your plant to a friend of yours and writing reflections on what that was like.

The purposes of this experiment are many. Let’s start with this one: The purpose of this experiment is to give you the framework you need to self-consciously cultivate a relationship with an aspect of your natural surroundings and reflect on that relationship in the context of your past relationship with your surroundings and your future relationship with your surroundings. The purpose of this experiment is to call to your attention, repeatedly, your relationship with the natural world. Your PCE is very likely to form the backbone of your final presentation for the class.

Presentation

The final project & presentation is an opportunity for you to explore an aspect of Buddhist ecological thinking or practice that is of particular interest to you. As long as the project focuses on Buddhism in relation to a concern for the Earth as “home,” you can do what you choose.

I will not write a lot here because the first requirement of this project is that you come meet with me to talk about it. May 1 is the deadline for that conversation. By May 1 you must come to speak with me about your project. I have office hours on Tuesday 5-6 pm and Thursday 2:30-3:30 pm. This initial conversation is a requirement. It is your responsibility to make sure you see me.

When you come see me before May 1 have a rough idea of what you will like to focus on for your presentation. Here are a few of very general themes to get your imagination moving: Buddhism and climate change? Buddhism and permaculture? Green living? The possibilities and limits of compassion? The poetry of presence?

The presentation itself will be 20 minutes long. 15 minutes of you, followed by 5 minutes for questions and comments.