About this Course
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Flexible deadlines

Flexible deadlines

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Beginner Level

Beginner Level

Hours to complete

Approx. 12 hours to complete

Suggested: 5 weeks of study, 2-3 hours per week...
Available languages

English

Subtitles: English...
100% online

100% online

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.
Flexible deadlines

Flexible deadlines

Reset deadlines in accordance to your schedule.
Beginner Level

Beginner Level

Hours to complete

Approx. 12 hours to complete

Suggested: 5 weeks of study, 2-3 hours per week...
Available languages

English

Subtitles: English...

Syllabus - What you will learn from this course

Week
1
Hours to complete
3 hours to complete

The Roots and Routes of Asian Environmental Thought

We will begin this course by tracing historical ways of thinking about the environment in China. Through a range of examples, traditional notions of “nature” and “landscape“ will be introduced. These will be compared with modern transcultural and Western concepts. After studying a selection of key concepts pertaining to the construction of landscape (shanshui) as an aesthetic category, we will visit two sites in Switzerland where ancient and modern landscape art works from China are collected and made accessible to a wider public. Finally, we will look more closely into one historically and culturally formative theme in Chinese eco-aesthetic practice, namely the representation of human bodies as landscapes and vice versa. We will argue that the tradition of imagining, and mapping, bodies as structurally and materially embedded in the cosmic body has inspired ancient and modern artists to reflect critically upon the place and role of human beings in the world at large....
Reading
8 videos (Total 95 min), 4 readings, 1 quiz
Video8 videos
Landscape Theory Part 17m
Landscape Theory Part 29m
Museum Rietberg Chinese Landscape Art Collection9m
Shanshui in Modern Art26m
Landscape and Body, Part 19m
Landscape and Body, Part 214m
Landscape and Body, Part 3: Ecosickness narratives10m
Reading4 readings
Recommended literature10m
Text Relating to Ecosickness Videom
Recommended Videos10m
Recommended Literature10m
Quiz1 practice exercise
Module 110m
Week
2
Hours to complete
3 hours to complete

Entangled Landscapes - Chinese Garden Concepts and Global Environments

Having assessed China’s ancient and modern conceptions of landscapes, and how they moved between cultures, social groups and societies, we will turn to the concept of entangled landscapes in the second module. Here, we will evaluate representations and narratives that explore the agency, conundrums and possibilities of applied transcultural aesthetic (and functional) paradigms in national politics of garden and park design. In a first step, the traveling concept of the Chinese garden will help us to evaluate the cultural and geopolitical affordances of gardens between Asia and Europe that are very often intimately connected to utopian visions of the ideal community. Next, we will encounter two different examples of a Chinese garden that bespeak their original sociopolitical functionality and conceptual underpinnings as much as the changes of these same when travelling across time and space. Our third theme of hometown nostalgia will study the turn of artists and intellectuals towards imaginary gardens of the past in view of large-scale heritage demolition in China. Finally, we will probe into the history of rural reconstruction and encounter two successful approaches towards the re-/creation of sustainable landscapes....
Reading
11 videos (Total 112 min), 5 readings, 1 quiz
Video11 videos
Chinese Gardens in Britain 112m
Chinese Gardens in Britain 28m
Chinese Literati Gardens8m
Wädenswil Garden of TCM Herbs14m
Demolition, Part 18m
Demolition, Part 28m
Hometown Nostalgia14m
New Village Movements10m
Modern Landscaping8m
Shaxi Reconstruction Project8m
Reading5 readings
Recommended Reading10m
Recommended Reading10m
Recommended Videos10m
Recommended Videos10m
Recommended Readings10m
Quiz1 practice exercise
Module 218m
Week
3
Hours to complete
2 hours to complete

Indian Religious Approaches: Two Communities

When actually implemented in experimental contexts, utopian ideas and projects draw on alternative visions of human interaction with (existing or imaginary) landscapes. Auroville, for example, is a project based on the foundations of Sri Aurobindo's philosophy of religion. The community was established in 1968 next to the Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry (Tamil Nadu, India) by Mira Alfassa, one of the closest disciples of Sri Aurobindo. In that same year, Auroville was declared a project in congruence with the targets and ideals of UNESCO, who aims “to bring together in close juxtaposition the values and ideals of different civilizations and cultures …”. Both UNESCO and the Indian State officially support Auroville. Moreover, architects across the globe participated in the construction of, and were inspired by the social and ecological visions that characterize Auroville. When exploring this community's approach to landscape and ecology, we will tackle the underlying historical legacies and connectivities between India and Europe and listen to cultural voices engaging with the experiment. In a similar vein, religious practice is intimately connected with the particular features of regional topographies, landscapes and ecologies. For example, Zoroastric rituals in Mumbai were linked to the local population of vultures. The practical consequences of the extinction of the latter will be analysed in a next step, thematizing death and the spiritual/ritual processes that accompany the “natural“ transformation of living bodies into matter. While studying the Zoroastrian community in Mumbai, we will take a close look at the question of how their rituals are adapted to changing environmental conditions. ...
Reading
12 videos (Total 74 min), 1 quiz
Video12 videos
What is Religion?4m
Religious Communities4m
Introduction to Zoroastrianism8m
Dokhmenashini: System and Ritual10m
Conflicts and Opinions6m
Outcome: Doongerwadi as Entangled Landscape6m
History of Auroville7m
A City as a Visionary Project for the Evolution of Mankind6m
Community of a Location?4m
Voices of Auroville6m
Conclusions3m
Quiz1 practice exercise
Module 320m
Week
4
Hours to complete
1 hour to complete

Environment in India: Concepts and Socio-Economic Conditions

Waste and its disposal is another important issue heavily impacting on landscapes and their local inhabitants. It challenges conventional political approaches, mobilises the public/private spheres, and can inspire pathbreaking scientific and social experiments as well as innovative literary, arts and design projects. High rates of economic growth are radically transforming Indian society and the Indian environment. The winners in this process have attained middle class status, and live increasingly consumerist lifestyles. However, growth has also produced losers: millions have lost their land and livelihoods to expanding mining concerns in the forests of central India, and to sprawling real estate developments in and around urban centres. Moreover, domestic and industrial waste, input intensive agriculture, and growing traffic have all radically undermined the quality of both urban and rural environments. We will examine the contradictions and the limitations inherent in contemporary forms of ‘bourgeois environmentalism’, but also critically assess the suggestion that civil society and environmental concerns are indeed the preserve of ‘bourgeois’ elites. ...
Reading
8 videos (Total 57 min), 1 quiz
Video8 videos
Waste, Pollution, and Cleaning7m
Social Structures7m
Sacred Rivers, Polluted Water6m
Manual Scavenging6m
Public Sanitation6m
India's Economy of Waste7m
Solid Waste Collectors6m
Quiz1 practice exercise
Module 418m

Instructor

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Andrea Riemenschnitter

Prof.
Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies

About University of Zurich

Founded in 1833, the University of Zurich (UZH) is Switzerland’s largest university, with a cur­rent enrollment of over 26,000 students. Made up of seven faculties covering approximately 100 different subject areas, UZH is proud to offer the most comprehensive aca­demic program in the country....

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