Our Home in the Forest: Ecology, Literature, and Culture

Discovery Core Experience: VLPA Course

May be taken as B CORE 104 (VLPA) or BCORE 110 (NW)

60-Second Syllabus: Our Home in the Forest: Ecology, Literature, and Culture

“This is not our world with trees in it. It’s a world of trees, where humans have just arrived.” – Richard Powers

About This Course:

Want to get OUT of the classroom and explore the forest at St. Edward State Park near our campus? This class is for you! Students will be introduced to forest ecology as well as the forested realms of literature, film, mythology, and Native American storytelling. This blended approach provides a rich understanding of the role forests play as natural systems and as symbols in the popular imagination.

Why Should I Take This Course?

Classes will meet each week at a new off-campus classroom located in the forest of St. Edward State Park (15 minutes from UWB campus) where you can explore the outdoors, study forest ecology with boots on the ground, meet local activists, and get inspired about ways we represent forests in literature

What Should I Expect ?

  • Field-based learning will take place at the EERC classroom at St. Edward Park (15 minutes from campus). Please note you will need to drive or take public transportation to the St. Edward location most weeks.
  • You’ll get an introduction to forest ecology, with time spent outdoors studying the forest’s plant and animal diversity, history, and current impacts of climate change.
  • Our class also looks at forests within the realm of human imagination to examine how stories, film, children’s literature, poetry and mythology have represented forests across different cultures.
  • You’ll develop an interdisciplinary or “holistic” understanding of the remarkable importance of forests in every aspect of our lives. Prepare to have fun and explore the outdoors!

Selected Texts & Films:

Learn About Our Class Location at St. Edward State Park

Our classroom is off-campus and is located at St. Edward. Please find more information about the park here.

Professor David Stokes (He/Him/His)

About Professor Stokes:

  • B.A. Geology, Williams College
  • Ph.D. Zoology, University of Washington


“In all of my classes, my teaching is motivated by the critical need to improve our understanding of our environment.” -Professor Stokes

Professor Jennifer Atkinson (She/Her/Hers)

About Professor Atkinson:

  • Ph.D. English Language and Literature, University of Chicago
  • M.A. English Language and Literature, University of Chicago
  • B.A. English and History, University of California Santa Barbara


“I believe that creating a sustainable future is both a science and an art. My teaching approaches environmental topics through the humanities — literature and ethics, history, art, philosophy and film — so students develop a diverse range of tools to address environmental challenges.” – Dr. Atkinson