So the class - this is the third time I have taught the doctoral course, but the first time that psychology and sustainability have stood alone - in the past we had included lots of other stuff in the class which seemed to confuse students (not that they are not confused now!) and dilute the information. We have ten students, second years - bright, funny, and engaging students who work very very hard. Our task this semester has been to review the recommendations from the American Psychologist Association's Task Force on Climate Change, with an eye toward what they mean for practicing psychologists. I appreciate these students who are willing to talk about this when it often seems confusing and a little peripheral to their main responsibilities of diagnosing and planning treatment/interventions. We keep moving the lens further and further back from our primary focus on the individual and family to view ALL of the forces and contexts that affect someone's well-being in any direction. It could be contact with a rich and healthy natural world, and/or exposure to environmental degradation. Politics and religion get thrown into the mix, and there are so many social justice implications for these issues - think about how fracking and mountain top removal and tar sands projects affect communities. Again, I have been impressed with the civility of our students as they grapple with the ideas.
And politics.... I think one of the reasons I have not written much lately is because I have been hunkered down processing stuff leading up to the presidential election. I have often felt discouraged that our primary candidates seldom mention the environment as an important concern - much less climate change. Research suggests that the US is rare in this regard - other countries are well aware of these topics as very important for human health and well-being. Here in the US, the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication has identified "six Americas" - six perspectives about climate change and the environment held by American adults - these include, in increasing order of concern, Dismissive, Doubtful, Disengaged, Cautious, Concerned, and Alarmed. The Yale Project has conducted periodic surveys and has noted shifts in the proportions associated with the groups, often tied to politics - the most recent report - September 2012 - is an interesting read. If you plan to vote in November, I encourage you to read this before casting your ballot.
We have another couple of weeks ahead before the election - and one more debate. I am curious about what will happen....which brings me full circle back to the CP Institute and its discussions of "discourses about the environment." How do we talk about it so that we can figure out how to work together? Not only are there gaps between people who find environmental issues important and people who don't - within the "environmental" movement are multiple perspectives with diverse interests - see Dryzek's work describing the views of survivalists, prometheans, green business people, visionaries, green consciousness - inner work folks, pragmatists.... the list goes on.
And then, thank goodness, there is life beyond work and thinking about this. My baby brother David turned 50 this weekend - his wife Anne threw a surprise party for him that drew lots of friends and family. Val couldn't make the party but did get here late Thursday night for the rest of the weekend. Great great times down here in KY. Adding to the joy of David's celebration was our opportunity to attend one of dad's Young at Heart concerts - the average age of the band members is 75! The oldest man is in his 90s and still plays solos. The music was great - mostly big band music with a few tunes thrown in from the twenties and the fifties. Such fun! We took lots of pictures - my sister Jennifer sneaked in a video showing all of our feet ticking to the beats.
Here are a few photos - starting out with a pic of dad's garden and some from Raven Run in Lexington from September, and moving into the birthday scenes and the concert. Lots more pictures will probably make their way to Facebook.