Philosophy course has students digging for insights
October 27, 2022
A new Philosophy course, PHIL 2242: Philosophy of the Earth, is taking students out of the classroom and into the new King's Community Garden as part of an experiential learning project.
Starting this fall, the class worked in the garden, planting some fall hardy greens (arugula and kale) as an introduction of the class to the space. Since then, they have returned to do an autumn planting for over-wintering plants, such as garlic.
In the context of the course, working in the garden will serve as a starting point for students to experiment with abstract ideas while still in touch with the concrete reality of the Earth. “A community garden is, thus, the center where ideas about social relations, shared knowing, natural systems, and reverence for natural life all come together,” says Dr. Russell Duvernoy, Associate Professor of Philosophy.
Duvernoy hopes the students “will gain deeper insights into the roots of present environmental destruction, and [develop] some creative spark for ways that they can engage where they are.”
Student Katrina Clark was drawn to the course due to the name (“that immediately sounded like something I’d be into”) but also the hands-on aspect.
“It has been a lovely experience working in the garden. Everyone has different backgrounds so it's easy for us to share knowledge, give and take,” says Clark. She adds that the success of the garden “shows hope, and it is our way of doing something, instead of just talking about it. We have to take action as well. I think growing is very exciting and it got me inspired to start up the garden.”
The class has also gone on several nature walks, learning about such things as the survival of local bird and bug populations and how to ground yourself in nature. “Both showed very new and different perspectives of how we are to take care of the earth,” says Clark.
Back in the classroom, students in the course are writing a philosophical statement of principle that will state goals and aspirations for what they hope community garden will become. “It will draw on different concepts from different philosophical readings and articulate these in relation to the garden,” explains Dr. Duvernoy.
Dr. Duvernoy started the course as a way to bring together his academic specialities in environmental philosophy, philosophy of nature, and comparative world philosophy with his interest in transformative education in relation to our deep ecological dysfunction.