Syllabus

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Course Description

We apply scientific methods and principles to questions of value. By questions of value we mean: What do I want? How can I get it? How do I know? Here we inclusively define "want" to encompass material and ethical considerations, narrow individual and broader humanitarian, biophilic, and environmental interests, near and distant ends and means.

Many of us want to live well and die at peace. To do these things we accurately discern and effectively realize value. We figure out what we want, get it, and feel satisfaction when we do. Each of us sometimes falls short at one or another point in this process. With valuescience practice we can reduce frequency and severity of such failures. To that end course participants examine methods by which we've responded to questions of value, and learn to practice valuescience with growing consciousness and consistency to evolve our responses to be better bases for living well and dying at peace.

The valuescience thesis is: (1) Ideas about what we want and how to get it rest on predictions that when we get what we want we'll feel as we anticipate, and that we will be effective when we act to satisfy want; (2) Science is sole demonstrated means for predicting with success greater than we can achieve by chance; therefore, (3) Science is how we better know and get what we want; it is how we more accurately discern and more fully realize value.

For more, please see: Course Description.

Course Objectives

  • Construct an ecological framework for understanding self and surrounds, and use this framework to explain the evolutionary import of human culture, and to describe how culture is embodied and communicated, and how we can evolve individual and collective cultural information to be more adaptive. For more, please see: Framework.
  • Evolve a more inclusive, consilient, science-based worldview which includes a method for discerning and realizing value—for living and dying well—and a set of ideas about value generated by this method. For more, please see: Worldview.
  • Practice valuescience to realize value more fully, and communicate to others how they can do this. For more, please see: Praxis.

Instructional Team

Teaching team members typically check email once(!) per day M-F and less often on weekends. Please plan accordingly. For urgent matters, call 650 323-7333.


Resources

Valuescience is a synthesis of work in many disciplines, and we tap diverse learning resources. During a typical quarter participants read, listen to, and view excerpts (often brief) from more than one hundred sources. We've listed below a representative selection containing key ideas.

For more detail on resources and questions we address with them please see: Resources.

Books

  • Andrews, Frank. (1990). The Art and Practice of Loving.
  • Bonner, John Tyler. (1980). Evolution of Culture in Animals.
  • Brafman, Ori. (2009). Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior.
  • Catton, William. (1980) Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change.
  • Cialdini, Robert. (1984). Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.
  • Duhigg, Charles. (2012). The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.
  • Edwards, David. (1999). Burning All Illusions.
  • Frankl, Viktor. (1959). Man’s Search for Meaning.
  • Graeber, David. (2012). Debt: The First 5,000 Years.
  • Hagen, Steve. (1998). Buddhism Plain and Simple.
  • Heilbroner, Robert. (1999). The Worldly Philosophers.
  • Kelly, Marjorie. (2003). The Divine Right of Capital: Dethroning the Corporate Aristocracy.
  • Meadows, Donella H., et al (1972). The Limits to Growth.
  • Ponting, Clive. (1991). A Green History of the World: The Environment and the Collapse of Great Civilizations.
  • Schrom, David. (2008). Valuescience.
  • Seavoy, Ronald. (1986). Famine in Peasant Societies.
  • Shepard, Paul. (1996). The Only World We’ve Got.
  • Totman, Richard. (1985). Social and Biological Roles of Language.
  • Whorf, Benjamin Lee. (1956). Language, Thought and Reality.
  • Wilson, Edward O. (1998). Consilience.

Online Resources

  • AAAS Atlas of Population and Environment link
  • AAAS Science for All Americans Online link
  • US Debt Clock.org History of Money and Banking link
  • Wikipedia link
  • Worldometers link

Videos

  • Beck, Roy. (2010). Immigration, World Poverty and Gumballs. link
  • Global Footprint Network. (2015). Sustainable Development: 1980-2011. link
  • Martenson, Chris. (2014). Exponential Growth. Video segment from 8:12 to 10:12. link
  • Population Connection. (2000). A Graphic Simulation of World Population Growth. link
  • Reilly, John. (2006). Bystander. link

Articles

  • Daly, Herman. (1993). "Steady State Economics: A New Paradigm." New Literary History. link
  • Emmanuel, Ezekiel. (2014). "Why I Hope to Die at 75." The Atlantic. link
  • Engelman, Robert. (2011). "An End to Population Growth: Why Family Planning Is Key to a Sustainable Future." Solutions for a Sustainable and Desirable Future. link
  • Gilbert, Daniel, et. al. (2009). "The Surprising Power of Neighborly Advice." Science. link
  • Harvey, Joe. (1990). "Growth in Perspective." Rocky Mountain Institute Newsletter. link
  • Ioannidis, John P. (2005). "Why Most Published Research Findings Are False." link
  • Krugman, Paul. (2011). "Markets Can Be Very, Very Wrong." New York Times. link
  • Leeb, Steven. (2013). "Dangerous Times As Energy Sources Get Costlier To Extract." Forbes Magazine. link
  • Nikiforuk, Andrew. (2011). "You and Your Slaves." The Tyee. link
  • Norton, Michael and Ariely, Dan. (2011). "Building a Better America−One Wealth Quintile at a Time." Perspectives on Psychological Science. link
  • Strauss, Mark. (2012). "Looking Back on the Limits of Growth." Smithsonian Magazine. link
  • Tainter, Joseph. (1996). "Complexity, Problem Solving, and Sustainable Societies." Getting Down to Earth: Practical Applications of Ecological Economics. link

Course Policies and Expectations

Presentations

View or listen to pre-recorded presentation(s) prior to class meeting for which they are assigned. Link

For more, please see: Presentations.

Class Meetings

We devote class meetings to discussion and other interaction. Please notify a member of the instructional team prior to any class from which you will be absent.

For more, please see: Class Meetings.

Quizzes

Students complete weekly or semi-weekly written quizzes. Quiz questions are taken directly from final exam.

For more, please see: Quizzes.

Project

Students working independently or in teams of 2-4 research and create media to communicate a valuescience argument.

For project purpose, criteria, and grading please see: Project.

Final Exam

Each student completes a written, closed-book final exam. For a current list of potential final exam questions please see: Final Questions.

For more, please see: Final Exam.

Practicum

Practicum enrollees practice personal behavioral change, record practice, and write reflections.

For more, please see: Practicum.

Grading

Participants Enrolled for 3 Units

  • 0-25% Class participation
  • 0-25% Quizzes
  • 25% Project
  • 25-75% Final exam

Participants Enrolled for 4 Units (Practicum)

  • 0-20% Class participation
  • 0-20% Quizzes
  • 20% Project
  • 20-68% Final exam
  • 12-20% Practicum

Grading Alternatives

With consent of instructor prior to final date for electing letter grade or C/NC, a student may establish grading criteria different from above.

For more, please see: Grading.

Topics

Schedule

Note: Please complete assignment prior to attending class unless instructed otherwise.

Week Class Date Assignment
1 Class 1 1. Read the syllabus.

2. Read Graham, Paul. (2009). "Keep Your Identity Small." ("The more labels you have for yourself, the dumber they make you." - Paul Graham) (2pp, 2 min) Link

3. View this two-minute video and attend class prepared to summarize its content. Link

1 Class 2 1. For the topic Valuescience: What? Why? How?, please review the questions, watch the presentation, and read core readings. (Click on the topic name to access these items.)

2. Complete "Valuescience: What, Why, How" quiz.

3. Read Duhigg, Charles. (2012). "Keystone Habits, or the Ballad of Paul O'Neill." The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. - Duhigg makes a case that some habits are so central to our lives that by altering them we can make much other change more readily. Link

4. Submit practicum proposal.

2 Class 3 1. For the topic Human Ecology: Framework for Valuescience, please review the questions, watch the presentation, and read the core readings. (Click on the topic name to access these items.)

2. Complete "Human Ecology" quiz.

2 Class 4 1. For the topic Embodying, Communicating, and Evolving Culture, please review the questions, watch the presentation, and read the core readings. (Click on the topic name to access these items.)

2. Submit week 2 practicum report.

3. Complete "Embodying, Communicating, and Evolving Culture" quiz.

3 Class 5 1. For the topic Worldview: Import, Sources, Evolving, please review the questions, watch the presentation, and read the core readings. (Click on the topic name to access these items.)

2. Complete "Worldview" quiz.

3. Submit Valuescience: What, Why, How video.

3 Class 6 1. For the topic Paradigm Shift to a Consilient, Science-based Worldview, please review the questions, watch the presentation, and read the core readings. (Click on the topic name to access these items.)

2. Submit week 3 practicum report.

3. Complete "Paradigm Shifts" quiz.

4 Class 7 1. For the topic Valuescience: What? Why? How?, please review the questions, watch the presentation, and read the core readings. (Click on the topic name to access these items.) Those who have been in the class from the very beginning have already done this work. We suggest that you review it.

2. Complete "Valuescience: What, Why, How" quiz. Those who have been in the class from the very beginning have already completed this quiz. You may repeat this quiz. We will use your higher grade.

4 Class 8 1. For the topic Universe, Earth, Life, Humans: What Is?, please review the questions, watch the presentation, and read the core readings. (Click on the topic name to access these items.)

2. Submit week 4 practicum report.

3. Complete "What is?" quiz.

5 Class 9 1. For the topic Mind, please review the questions, watch the presentation, and read the core readings. (Click on the topic name to access these items.)

2. Complete "Mind" quiz.

5 Class 10 1. For the topic Money and Dominance, please review the questions, watch the presentation, and read the core readings. (Click on the topic name to access these items.)

2. Submit week 5 practicum report.

3. Complete "Money and Dominance" quiz.

6 Class 11 1. For the topic How It Came to Be, please review the questions, watch the presentation, and read the core readings. (Click on the topic name to access these items.)

2. Complete "How Did It Come To Be?" quiz.

3. Submit project proposal.

6 Class 12 1. For the topic Scientific World-modeling, please review the questions, watch the presentation, and read the core readings. (Click on the topic name to access these items.)

2. Submit week 6 practicum report.

3. Complete "Scientific World Modeling" quiz.

7 Class 13 1. For the topic Biosphere: Conditions and Trends, please review the questions, watch the presentation, and read the core readings. (Click on the topic name to access these items.)

2. Complete "Biosphere" quiz.

7 Class 14 1. For the topic Society: Conditions and Trends, please review the questions, watch the presentation, and read the core readings. (Click on the topic name to access these items.)

2. Complete "Society" quiz.

3. Submit week 7 practicum report.

8 Class 15 1. For the topic Scientifically Consilient Religion and Economics, please review the questions, watch the presentation, and read the core readings. (Click on the topic name to access these items.)

2. Complete "Scientifically Consilient Religion and Economics" quiz.

8 Class 16 1. For the topic Biosphere and Society: Vision, please review the questions, watch the presentation, and read the core readings. (Click on the topic name to access these items.)

2. Submit week 8 practicum report.

3. Complete "Biosphere and Society: Vision" quiz.

4. Submit project draft.

9 Class 17 1. For the topic Evolving Self, please review the questions, watch the presentation, and read the core readings. (Click on the topic name to access these items.)

2. Complete "Evolving Self" quiz.

9 Class 18 1. For the topic Evolving Society, please review the questions, watch the "Evolving Society Part 1" and "Evolving Society Part 2" presentations, and read the core readings. (Click on the topic name to access these items.)

2. Submit week 9 practicum report.

3. Complete "Evolving Society" quiz.

4. Submit project.

10 Class 19

1. Present project during class.

2. Submit week 10 practicum report.

11 Class 20

1. Final exam.