Perennialism: Deep Roots for a Resilient Culture [S-12-43]

Presenter:Bill Vitek
Location: SUNY: Van Housen Extension SB27A
Classes: 1 Session 2.0 hours
Dates: Fri 1:00 PM 04/06

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This presentation considers the current environmental state of the planet and the efforts to reduce negative anthropogenic (i.e. human) impacts. It will critique the current sustainability movement as being unable to cope with today’s challenges, and offer an alternative approach (Perennialism), taking examples from agriculture, philosophy, and ecosystem science.  

Bill Vitek is an environmental philosopher at Clarkson University who has lived and worked in the St. Lawrence Valley for over 24 years. He has worked closely with Wes Jackson, a leader in the perennial agriculture movement.  

NOTE: See presenter’s web site for more info: (Look particularly at the section on "Publications," "Talks")


PowerPoint - Perennialism: Deep Roots for a Resilient Culture (approx. 8MB) [NOTE: You must have PowerPoint on your computer to view this presentation; choose "Open With..." - "PowerPoint" Downloading to view may take several minutes]

.PDF Article - "God or Nature: Desire and the Quest for Unity - by Bill Vitek (for Minding Nature 4.2), pp.20-25


PERENNIALISM RESOURCE GUIDE (Download a .pdf verion of this guide)

Energy Consumption: International Energy Outlook

Exponential Growth (Physicist Al Bartlett’s well known lecture on the exponential function)

Nuclear Weapons

Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide

Intergovernmental Report on Climate Change

Peak Oil, Natural Gas and Coal

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Natural Systems Agriculture

Modern Slavery

The Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies

Species Extinction

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Report

Ethanol Production

Soil Erosion

World Fresh Water Crisis

Human Population Growth

Jevons Paradox

Ecological Footprint

Industrial Ecology

Embodied Energy


Precautionary Principle

Life Cycle Analysis


Carbon Neutrality


The Genuine Progress Indicator

Wes Jackson

Vandana Shiva

David Orr

Ray Anderson

College Connections (Google “Campus Sustainability” for dozens of examples):


A good overview of sustainability (The Natural Step is an organization with a long, solid history):

An e-book from UIC professor:

The Story of Stuff (This has been around the internet for a year or more, but it’s a terrific look at the problems we face and how sustainability helps to solve them):


2000-Watt Society:

Transition Towns:


Open Source Ecology:

William Ruddiman: Plows, Plagues, and Petroleum: How Humans Took Control of Climate.
Brian Walker and David: Salt. Resilience Thinking: Sustaining Ecosystems and People in a Changing World.
Janine Benyus: Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature.
Arthur Koestler: The Sleepwalkers: A History of Man’s Changing Vision of the Universe.
Thomas Homer-Dixon: The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization.
Daniel Quinn: Ishmael: An Adventure in Mind and Spirit.
Joseph Tainter: The Collapse of Complex Societies
Walter Youngquist: GeoDestinies: The Inevitable Control of Earth Resources Over Nations and Individuals.
Paul Hawken: Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming. (You can watch Hawken speak about his book at:
John Ehrenfeld: Sustainability by Design: A Subversive Strategy for Transforming our Consumer Culture.

A pretty good booklist:

Four TED talks by some big guns in the field (TED talks are wonderful, short, and inspirational):


Business Alliance for Local, Living Economies:

Sustainable Living Project:

Back To Spring 2012 Semester Course List


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