The Nature of College by James Farrell



Welcome to the ecologician’s blog, a place where we get to explore the complexities and complicities of everyday college culture and American culture, and a place where we’ll begin to imagine a culture that’s more appropriate—and more fulfilling—than the one we live in now. The Nature of College is my contribution to a conversation about these topics, and the book will succeed not if it sells well, but if it engenders more conversation—and even more action—about these topics. As ecologicians—people willing to think imaginatively about nature and culture—we can come to terms with the nature of our own lives on this amazing earth, and we can set the terms for future interactions of people and the planet.

I’ll use this website (and this blog) to add a few more thoughts to the conversation, and I hope you’ll do the same. I’ve thought a lot about college culture, but I haven’t lived it for a long time, and I know that it’s more complex than the book suggests, even though the book complexifies a number of topics that we normally don’t think twice about. That’s where you come in. This is a place for you to share too, writing your own versions of the nature of college.

To some extent, with The Nature of College, I’ve made provocation my vocation, stating as dramatically as I can some of the cultural patterns that affect the natural processes of the planet. This website and blog are places for the subtlety and nuance, complexity and contradiction, that wouldn’t fit in the pages of the book. If you contact me with your ideas and ideals, your plans and prognoses, your hopes and fears, your successes and failures, I’ll be able to include many of them on the site. And so the conversation will continue, as well as the good work of making our culture more sustainable.

The website itself includes additional material, including deleted scenes from the book, as well as a reader’s guide with questions and concepts (and even assignments) that might prove useful both in making sense of the argument, and making the argument better.

“The Ecologician’s Essays” include a dictionary modeled after Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary, some earlier words of wisdom from “Dr. America,” essays on teaching and learning and topics as curious as “the real world,” and illustrations and other artwork by the talented Jens Mattson.

The “Take Action” section is a place for us to share our successes and failures in changing the nature of college culture. Like the newsletter of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, it’s a place where we can be good examples for each other, recording our xxxxxxxxx.