Spring 2021 - HUM 330 D100

Religions in Context (4)

Eco Spirituality

Class Number: 7105

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 2:30 PM – 4:20 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units.



An in-depth investigation of a specific case of religious history and tradition. Religions will be studied through the cultural and historical contexts that pervade and structure religious meaning and expression. Students may repeat this course for further credit under a different topic. Breadth-Humanities.


In this course we will embark on an in depth investigation of trees and forests in religious history and tradition. We will study trees and forests in their cultural and historical contexts. We will look especially at the religious meaning and expression which trees and forests embody throughout global history. We will also look at trees through the lens of philosophy, ethics, literature and the contemporary science of ecology and forest management. The course will emphasize the strong connection between the Humanities and trees and forests from a wide variety of cultural and religious perspectives. The readings will cover a wide swath of interdisciplinary perspectives including: forest ecology, sacred texts, literature, social science and philosophy. We will also explore the importance of trees and forests to the global fight against climate change and a livable future. We will foster an intimate Learning Community which will develop through assigned and optional readings, small group discussion, reflective and analytical writing and a community service project related to trees.


· Define trees and forests in relation to human societies

· Articulate issues facing forests and trees in urban and global settings

· Explore the role of trees and forests in the world’s religious and spiritual systems

· Improve ecological literacy related to trees and forests

· Deepen one’s personal relationship to trees and forest spaces

· Gather resources for engaging with tree and forest planting and conservation


  • Species Case Study/Guide book contribution 25%
  • (Sacred) Forest Case Study 25%
  • Final Reflective Essay 25%
  • Reading Reflections 10%
  • Arboreality Journal 15%



· Hall, Matthew. Plants as Persons: A Philosophical Botany (2011).

· Peter Wohlleben, The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries from A Secret World (2017).


· Pojar, Jim and Andy MacKinnon (eds.). Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast: Washington, Oregon, British Columbia & Alaska. Lone Pine Pub., 2004.

· Powers, Richard. The Overstory. (2018).

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).