Naropa University and Environmental Studies

One thing I have been thinking about in recent months is the Environmental Studies program at Naropa University. In case you are wondering what doing this degree will entail, here is what Naropa University’s catalog has to say about the subject:

Core Courses

SUBTOTAL 30

Choose one field science course:

Choose one focus course:

TOTAL CREDITS 36

So, what’s the problem with the program? Here it is: very little of it actually trains you to be competent in the field of Environmental Studies. Most of it is philosophy and, at best, soft social sciences and no hard sciences are required.

True, there are philosophical and justice issues at play when talking about the environment. The thing is though, if you want to be influential in anything, you have to know what you are talking about and this is one of the weaknesses that Naropa University graduates seem to have. Geography, Geology, Biology, Chemistry – all of these things should be things that the Environmental activist has a working knowledge of and NONE of these things are effectively taught at Naropa University. Naropa University simply lacks laboratories to effectively teach Biology and Chemistry, they offer no programs in Geography or Geology and they do not even possess classes in Mathematics!

Their graduate degree in Environmental Studies is not much better. Take a look at what Naropa University requires for it’s MA in Environmental Leadership:

First year, fall

SUBTOTAL 9

First year, spring

SUBTOTAL 9

First year, summer

SUBTOTAL 3

Second year, fall

SUBTOTAL 9

Second year, spring

SUBTOTAL 9

TOTAL CREDITS 39

So, what did you see? I would like to point out two things, first of which is that “The New Science and It’s Cultural Applications” class that is required in this MA degree. Sounds interesting, but when you read the course description, you will find that they are not talking about science at all.

In a synthesis of the old and new visions in Western science, this course develops understanding of the new material emerging in science regarding the earth as a living system; examines cosmology and Gaian science, as well as key principles of geophysiology; and explores the significant cultural implications and applications. This material provides key tools and perspectives for environmental leaders as well as insights useful for working with organizations and communities. Required for EL MA.

Cosmology? Gaian science? Well, off hand, I know that cosmology is the study of the origins of this planet (hey, I have watched enough episodes of The Atheist Experience to know that much). But Gaian science? Well, the thing is that despite doing a Google search for the phrase, I have absolutely no idea what the hell Gaian science actually is.

Also, the other course that popped out at me was “MAR 500e: Authentic Leadership”. What this indicates to me is that this is a course offered by Naropa’s Marpa Centre for Business and Economics. Kinda like the Shambhala version of the Maharishi University of Management but less developed, less useful and just as cultish. But here’s the course description, just in case you are curious:

MARPA CENTER FOR BUSINESS AND ECONOMICS (MAR)

Naropa University’s Authentic Leadership program is a transformative leadership course that integrates ancient wisdom with effective modern approaches to management. The format encourages deep personal learning in an environment that makes it possible to assimilate ideas and concepts at an accelerated pace. Executive coaching with experienced professionals is a central component. Professionals with a wide variety of interests and experience attend this course along with Naropa students. Required for EL MA. Course fee.

A religious group offering management courses… sounds familiar, doesn’t it? What comes to mind when I hear that phrase are the Maharishi University for Management (read about this man who worked for the faculty saw some seriously crazy shit), the Hubbard College of Administration and World Institute of Scientology Enterprises (learn how this group is really a front to funnel people into the Church of $cientology).

Do yourself a favor and find an Environmental Studies degree that will allow you to be an effective leader in the field, instead of just another unemployed talking head of Shambhala International.

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The Prairie Dog Question

I neglected to comment on the prairie dog issue simple because, it does not seem like such an interesting story and frankly, it pales in comparison to the lifetime of suffering that Naropa alumni undergo once they graduate and figure out that their degrees are essentially worth less than the paper they are printed on and yet, they are around $40,000 (to say nothing of their parents, if they roped someone into taking out PLUS loans). Well, I was wrong – the prairie dog issue is an important one, when you consider that it is indicative of the true spirit of the administration at Naropa. Especially considering how they are handling it. The Sycamore, the online unofficial student newspaper of Naropa University (yes, the one where I am seen attending the launch party), has reported that the administration at Naropa University has said that they do not want the community’s input on the prairie dog issue. That’s right, they do not want anyone to talk about this issue, just like I am sure that Chogyam Trungpa was uncomfortable with people talking about his sexual assault of Dana Naone and W.S. Merwin. Or how they do not like how people create websites exposing their fraud and abuse. Naropa University is simply not a place where free speech or student input is desired if it goes against what the administration wants.

So, what does the administration of Naropa University plan to do? Well, considering the fact that they are no stranger to shifty dealings, they will most likely go and send their star attorney, Nathan Stone, to try to threaten them to take down their website and send the content and domain names to Naropa University. Then, they will probably gas the prairie dogs at night, when the Nalanda campus is not scheduled to have any classes or student group meetings – shutting down the campus in advance for “meetings”. After all, why would the administration of Naropa University choose to act in a honourable way? Humane traps cost a lot more money than simple extermination.