The Oikos Program

The Oikos Program is an interdisciplinary minor program sponsored by the departments of Biology, Political Science, Religion, and Sociology & Anthropology. Oikos is the Greek word for "house." It is the root word for both ecology and economics,  and thus points to the dual aspects of ecological and social and responsibility that are central to the mission of the Oikos Program.  The uniting theme across disciplines is how we might contribute to a just, sustainable, and peaceful future. 


Objectives

  • Using the expertise unique to each academic discipline, students will explore the root causes of injustice, ecological degradation, and social conflict.
  • Students will explore creative responses to these realities and will imagine possibilities for future social policy.
  • Students from various disciplines will form a coherent learning community around a common theme.
  • Oikos students will engage in genuine servant leadership: i.e.; understand the systemic roots of social problems and engage in transformation of the world in which they live.

Program Overview

The advisor for the program is the Oikos Program Director. The Oikos minor requires successful completion of the 5 courses described below (16 hours in total) with a grade of C- or better in each course and a GPA of 2.0 or better in the minor.

Course Descriptions

SOCI 1320 Oikos Seminar on Social Justice Spring 2008 (3)
An introduction to issues of diversity and social justice in the United States. The course provides students with theoretical frameworks for understanding the dynamics and intersections of oppression and an opportunity to expand their awareness of various forms of oppression.
Prerequisites: none
     
RLGN 2320 Religion, Violence, and Social Change (3)
An examination of models of non-violent social change that are grounded in religious faith commitments. The course will focus on the Christian faith tradition but will work comparatively with figures and movements from Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, and Islam. The course will include practice in the skills of peace-building that are guided by the principles of restorative justice.
Prerequisites: none
     
POLS 2320 Seminar on Ecological Sustainability and Policy (3)
A survey of sustainability as a political, economic and socio-cultural part of our lives. The course is divided into three major segments. First, it assays how our lives are conducted and considers the ecological cycles and processes that make life possible. Second, it examines the ground solutions to the issue of a sustainable lifestyle and attempts to implement this goal. Finally, it surveys the arena of ecological politics in order to engage the issue of how can we achieve this as a society.
Prerequisites: none
  or  
SOCI 2320 Seminar on Ecological Sustainability and Policy (3)
A survey of sustainability as a political, economic and socio-cultural part of our lives. The course is divided into three major segments. First, it assays how our lives are conducted and considers the ecological cycles and processes that make life possible. Second, it examines the ground solutions to the issue of a sustainable lifestyle and attempts to implement this goal. Finally, it surveys the arena of ecological politics in order to engage the issue of how can we achieve this as a society.
Prerequisites: none
     
BIOL 3334 General Ecology (4)
Fall (odd years)
An introduction to the basic principles and concepts of ecology with emphasis on environmental sampling, analysis and characterization.
Prerequisites: BIOL 1101, 1101 L, 1102, and 1102 L or BIOL 1148 and 1149
  or  
BIOL 3370 Toxicology (4)
Fall (even years)
An introduction to the principles of toxicology and the cellular, physiological, and ecological effects of toxicants, with an emphasis on the environmental and physiological effects of toxicants relating to the nervous system, cardiovascular system, and respiratory system.
Prerequisites: BIOL 1101, 1101 L, 1102 and 1102 L or BIOL 1148 and 1149
     
OIKS 4000 Capstone Research Project (3)
A research project and presentation that explores in great depth an issue at the intersection of peace and nonviolence, social justice, and ecological sustainability. When the student is completing a major that already requires a senior research project, the student will generally register for the departmental capstone course instead of OIKS 4000. The student will work out a common topic in consultation with the Oikos program director and the faculty member who teaches the capstone course in the student's major. In those rare cases in which the student is earning a major that does not require a senior project, or if the student cannot develop a topic that is acceptable to his or her major advisor, the student may register for OIKS 4000 instead of a departmental capstone course. In this case the student will choose a topic in consultation with the Oikos program director.
Prerequisite: Completion of all other Oikos courses with a grade of "C-" or better and a GPA of 2.0 or higher in the minor, or permission of the Oikos Program Director.