L806 Summer 2020 Vanishing Worlds
Wednesdays, 11:50–1:15, July 22–July 29
Instructor: Joyce Johnston
- July 22: Light Grows As Life Fades Above the Arctic Circle. Beyond the Arctic Circle once stretched a shining world—1,500 square miles of crystalline air and unpolluted lakes the size of inland seas. Even five years ago, reindeer roamed all summer across the green meadows of three countries, shepherded by the Sámi people on routes known for 5,000 years. Now reindeer find warming seas drowning their migration routes, their calves dying of heat exhaustion, and freezing rain blocking their access to food they see but cannot reach. The 8,400 tons of ice now leaving Greenland every second of every year means that sea-level is rising and animals are starving in all the Nordic lands. Even though Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland have all signed a pact to combat climate change, the key question is: can they possibly succeed?
- July 29: The Baltic Minorities: Bright, Beautiful, and Almost Gone. Where once a thousand Livonian fisher folk lived in 12 coastal villages, today the last 170 survivors are fighting to keep their matriarchy and music alive in Latvia. Although 4,000 Seto people still sing their lives in Setomaa, double that number have left to join the rest of the Estonian population. On Muhu Island, only bright-colored hand weaving and folk songs remain of the culture whose religion and practitioners were wiped out by Crusaders in 1277. Lithuania would seem to be the most fortunate with a majority minority population, an official Lithuanian World Community and an international Education Commission—yet even it has lost a quarter of a million people since 2011. Not climate change, but politics and economics now threaten to extinguish indigenous peoples in the Baltic states. How can they survive?
has enjoyed a lifetime of travel beginning as an Army brat, and has developed a love of unexplored places and a taste for adventure. She has extended her love of diverse cultures into 33 years with her multinational students at George Mason University. This course highlights two heavily threatened regions dear to her heart.