The Interdisciplinary Education Quilt
After the first month at Woolman, it has become quite apparent that the classes are designed around the tenets of interdisciplinary education. Every new idea in one subject seems to build upon an idea taught in a separate class. This enriches the learning experience and prevents students from receiving only small portions of information rather than the big picture.
In Peace Studies and Global Issues, we often discuss human rights. A vital part of guaranteeing rights to individuals is making sure that the use of resources by our population does not favor one group over another or prevent future generations from having a high quality of life. This is the same idea that is put forth in my Permaculture class: “People Care, Earth Care, Fair Share.” Peace Studies and Global Issues seem to be more focused on People Care and Fair Share, while Environmental Science gives much more attention to Earth Care, but also involves the investigation of the quality of our food, which is more related to People Care.
Much of Environmental Science has thus far involved the examination and demonization of conventional agriculture through the examination of texts like The Omnivore's Dilemma and essays by Eliot Coleman. By itself, this class would be a very unhelpful and depressing course. Permaculture is the class that really ties all the others together, so I'm a bit disappointed that it is an elective rather than a part of Environmental Science. An important connection I have made between Permaculture and Environmental Science is that the former requires observation of the methods of nature in order to imitate those methods, while the latter stresses the teaching of observational skills. Also, while Permaculture advocates People Care, it does not provide advice that could help build caring communities, which is where Peace Studies, Global Issues, and Nonviolent Communication come into play. These classes provide advice and techniques on building stable, peaceful, “power-with” relationships and aiding those in need.
Ultimately, one subject fills in where another seems to be lacking. This interdisciplinary education quilt has many different parts, but all seem to stick to the pattern of justice, peace, and sustainability.