FS 121 - Ecology of Mind

First Year Seminar Program

FS 121— Aesthetic & Humanistic Inquiry: Ecology of Mind

Northern Arizona University

General Information

College of Education
FS 121 Aesthetic & Humanistic Inquiry First Year Seminar: Ecology of Mind
Fall, 2014 – Course #15251 (3 Credit Hours)

Meeting Times: Tuesdays & Thursdays, 2:20—3:35 pm

Meeting Place: Aspen Crossing Learning Community (Building #29), Room 111 (meeting place may change, watch your NAU email)

Instructor: Dr. Jeff Bloom
Email: jeff.bloom[at]nau.edu
Phone: 928-523-0665
Office: #143, Eastburn Education Building (Building #27, College of Education)

Office Hours:

  • Wednesdays 11:00 am to 12:00 pm, 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm; or by appointment

Course Teaching Assistants:

  • Shelby North (see Syllabus for contact information)
  • Christina Tymchak (see Syllabus for contact information)

Primary Course Website (forums, student postings, etc.) on: http://ecomind.wikidot.com
Readings are Password Protected : SEE separate email for login information.

Download these ESSENTIAL Course Materials

  • Readings: Readings Booklet for FS 121Password Protected Readings: — Please see the original email sent prior to the beginning of the semester.
  • Form for Completing Summaries of Readings: a-Readings-SummariesFORM.dotm — This file is a template. You will be forced to save it with a new name, as shown in this file.
  • Form for Completing Critical Analyses: To Be Added Soon — check back

"Reading Gregory Bateson can be dangerous for your mental health."
(Mary Catherine Bateson - 2004 – from a talk at the Bateson@100 Conference, Berkeley, CA)

Key Concepts:

Relationship — Symmetrical, Complementary, Reciprocal Cybernetics and Systems Feedback Loops
Ecology of Mind Epistemology Difference
Double Bind Pattern Change and Changeability
Beauty and Aesthetics Context Ecology
Ecosystem Ecological Footprint Energy and Net Energy
Entropy Growth and Exponential Growth Carrying Capacity
Biophysical Economics Overshoot Peak Resources
Sustainability Social Justice

Some of the Big Questions:


These questions are examples of the ways we might begin to think about almost anything.

Thinking and Ecology of Mind

  • How do we think?
  • How do our minds work?
  • How do we learn? How does __ __ learn?
  • How are our thoughts our culture’s thoughts?
    • What does "thinking our culture's thoughts" mean to you?
    • How do others "use" this idea of culture determining people's thinking to promote different agendas?
    • Can we (and how can we ) step outside our culture to think in different ways?
  • How do we see, feel, etc., when we __ __?
  • How do our ways of thinking affect __ __?
  • What does it… mean to change the way we think?
  • How can we be more precise about our language and meaning?
  • What does it mean to be rigorous in our thinking?


  • What is the context or what are the contexts involved in __ __?


  • What are the relationships involved between __ __?
  • What are the dynamics of the relationships involved in __ __?
  • What are relationships that comprise some "thing"?
  • How are “things” connected/interconnected?
  • How do "things" disconnect?
  • How does __ __ interact with __ __?

Double Binds

  • What are the double binds involved in __ __?
  • How can we address the double binds involved in __ __?

Cybernetics and Systems

  • What systems are involved in __ __?
  • How do the different systems interact in a particular situation?
  • What are the feedback loops and how do they work?

Personal and Social Epistemologies

  • How do we (personally and humans, in general) make sense of __ __?
  • What assumptions and other sense-making frameworks are we using when we think about __ __?

Patterns and Metapatterns

  • What patterns are part of our everyday experiences, the objects in our world, etc?
    • What are the functions of these patterns?
    • What patterns connect us to other living things?
    • What patterns connect us across cultures?
    • How do these patterns interact?
  • What are the underlying patterns in __ __?
  • What are the functions, meanings, interactions, and effects of these patterns __ __?
  • How do these patterns interact with other patterns in a particular object or event?


  • How are __ __ changing in order to survive, etc.?


  • What is there about our way of perceiving that makes us not see the delicate interdependencies in an ecological system that give it is integrity?”
  • How does our (humankind's) thinking affect our local and global environments?
  • How can we change the way we think in ways that are consistent with local and global ecological systems?


  • Dec. 4, Thursday, 2:15—3:35 pm — Ecology of Mind Projects Fair — TENTATIVE DATE & TIME


These expert guests will Skype into class for interactive discussions. Dates will be announced.

Our Website (Wiki) Features:

Although not required, you may want to consider joining this wiki to post materials and projects.

  • Student Pages — This link takes you to the index page for each class' students.
    • Add a link on this page to your own biographical page where you can create links to your own project pages (your course projects should be posted here).
  • Menu in left sidebar — check out other parts of this site and feel free to duplicate post your projects in appropriate sections, as well as to post links to intriguing sites, books, articles, and videos under the appropriate categories.

Post Comments:

Add a New Comment
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License