New Courses Explore Ocean Cultures

Centuries before modern science, humans traveled, exploited, contemplated and celebrated the seas as explorers, fishermen, whalers, merchants, poets, storytellers, musicians and philosophers. Two new courses sponsored by OSU’s Spring Creek Program and Environmental Leadership Institute will delve into this ancient human-ocean relationship.

Inspired by the university’s upcoming symposium, Song for the Blue Ocean: Science, Art and Ethics (February 18 – 19), “Literature of the Ocean” will “pursue the subject across time as well as through the three-dimensional space of the sea,” says English Assistant Professor Peter Betjemann. Literary readings focus on oceanic zones (littoral, neritic, oceanic) as well as levels within the water column (surface, photic, aphotic) and places where human communities meet the sea (wharves, docks, beaches). The course, ENG 499/582, is being taught winter term.

A joint colloquium in anthropology and zoology will explore the relative strengths, weaknesses and assumptions of the worldviews underlying traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) and Western scientific knowledge (WSK). “Ocean Wisdom: Integrating Traditional and Western Ecological Knowledge of the Pacific,” will focus on the Pacific Ocean and its bordering lands. “Students will compare and contrast the different epistemologies on which TEK and WSK are based via case studies throughout the Pacific region,” says marine ecologist Mark Hixon, who will team teach the class with anthropologist Deanna Kingston. ANTH/Z 499H will be offered spring term.