This course is by application only.
Thomas Berry once wrote, “The universe is a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects.” One might also insist that the university is a communion of subjects, not a collection of disciplines. Perhaps no subject better illustrates this point than the environment, for to understand and appreciate the environment requires expertise from multiple intellectual traditions, including history, religion, philosophy, anthropology, aesthetics, economics, political science, and legal studies. This course focuses on the scholarship and practice of leading figures working at the intersection of law, environment, and religion, who will be brought to campus to participate in a discussion series that forms the core of the course. In preparation for these visits, teams of students are assigned to study deeply the writing and actions of a designated speaker. Class sessions during this preparatory phase resemble a traditional graduate seminar, with readings and discussion designed to stimulate engagement with the most challenging and vital questions facing the “communion” of law, environment, and religion. During the core phase of the course, speakers interact with students in multiple ways. The central activity is an in-depth interview led by members of the student team. Other students conduct a podcast interview with the speaker at Yale’s audio recording studio; these podcast interviews, which are intended to engage the speaker in a more personal conversation about his or her life history, values, and worldviews, will be posted on Yale’s iTunes University site. One of the conceits of the academy is often that such subjective elements have little bearing on one’s intellectual work. As a result, too little attention is paid within the university to the role of family, community, religion, and other critical biographical factors in shaping one’s ideas. Enrollment limited to twenty-four.