Living Through A Planetary Crisis: Exploring Possible Futures

Concerns about the damaging impact of industrial civilisation on our planet goes back many centuries. However, the accelerating rate of climate change and environmental destruction suggests that we are entering a new phase. Human and much other life on the planet is at serious risk. We explore recent thought about what may happen from authors such as Bruno Latour, Joanna Macy, Jem Bendell, and Pablo Servigne. What will the crisis mean to those of us who live through it? In dealing with our predicament, can we learn, or relearn, a more genuine and meaningful relationship to all life on earth?

This class will be delivered online via the online platform Zoom. Enrolling students need to ensure they have an email, a reliable internet connection, microphone/speakers and access to a tablet, smartphone or computer.



  • Facing our predicament: Not the Hollywood scenario. Missed opportunities and political decline. The GFC, the climate crisis, global inequality, and the pandemic. Approaching the ‘tipping points’. The illusion that we can make it all go away.
  • Science and Technology: Understanding what science is and what it can (and can’t) do. The nexus between science, politics and industry. Tobacco, Big Pharma, the fossil fuel industry. ‘Wicked problems’ and the science of complex systems. The delusion of the “technological fix”.
  • Other ways of living on the earth: Indigenous approaches; animistic, shamanic and other perspectives. Caring for the earth. Short and long time scales. The landscape as animated, other species as fellow earth-dwellers. Living with other forms of life on the earth. Gaia’s innate intelligence.
  • Human embodiment and how best to handle it: Maintaining physical, mental and spiritual health; traditional and contemporary resources.
  • The Great Turning: Dealing with loss and disaster. Grieving and moving on. The psychological challenge of the coming crisis.
  • Bringing about change: Culture wars and the politics of change. Avoiding demonization of the ‘other side’. Building community. Transition towns, eco-villages and social movements. Can we build a worthwhile life in the times ahead?


By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Appreciate the ways in which contemporary science offers us valuable insight, and the ways in which that insight can be limited and open to interference and manipulation.
  2. Understand at a basic level the nature of complex systems, including the earth and life on it as a complex system
  3. Articulate a social, historical and ecological perspective on the development of global inequality and environmental destruction, and on the ‘culture wars’ and other aspects of the contemporary global situation
  4. Understand the importance of a long-term, whole of life understanding of the human predicament and life on earth.
  5. Look forward to the future as a period which may offer difficult challenges but will also offer opportunities for positive change.

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