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Solarpunk: Theory, Fiction, and Radical Futures

Explore a radical vision of the future where nature and technology align, challenging the pessimistic outlook on climate change. Immerse yourself in the art, theory, and speculative fiction of solarpunk to reimagine a world of decommodified energy and human liberation. Join us on this intellectual journey towards a harmonious coexistence of technology, nature, and human life.

  • All levels
  • 21 and older
  • $335
  • Earn 3,350 reward points
  • Online Classroom
  • 12 hours over 4 sessions

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  • $335
  • 12 hours over 4 sessions
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Class Description

Description

What you'll learn in this lecture class:

Encompassing art, theory, and speculative fiction, solarpunk is a vision of futurity that asks: What sort of world can result from the alignment of nature and technology? Gesturing, on the one hand, to the sun—a resource, by its very nature, inhospitable to private property logic—and, on the other, to counterculture, solarpunk sees decommodified energy, sustainably harnessed, as core to human liberation. In contrast to the pessimism that, in the age of climate change, increasingly marks our cultural and political sensibilities (as well as certain strands of critical theorizing), solarpunk embraces a so-called radical optimism: Its speculative fictions describe utopias; its aesthetics and architecture orient themselves to communalism; and its theory postulates a harmony of technology, nature, and human life (and the ability to achieve it)—even in the midst of climate catastrophe. But what would it mean—culturally, economically, politically—to “align” technology and nature? What, exactly, counts as nature? Why, pace the solarpunk imaginary, is “free” energy crucial to human emancipation? And what, more generally, is the value of speculative thinking and literature? Are solarpunk optimists, to borrow from Ursula K. Le Guin, “realists of a larger reality?”

This course will focus on the philosophical and imaginary turn towards radical optimism in the face of climate change. We will delve into the art, theory, and fiction associated with solarpunk, in order to think about problems of technology, nature, and productive human society—and how nature and material life can be integrated beyond systems of exploitation and oppression. We’ll consider the uses of utopia, the attractions of science fiction for non-capitalist thinking, the meaning of sustainability, debates over growth and degrowth, and the philosophical and cultural significance of affects of optimism and pessimism. Is contemporary pessimism a form of realism, or a lack of imagination? Readings will include works and excerpts from Ursula K. Le Guin, Kyle Powys Whyte, Andreas Malm, Rebecca Solnit, Becky Chambers’s Monk and Robot duology, and emerging literature within the solarpunk movement—both theoretical and literary.

Remote Learning

This course is available for "remote" learning and will be available to anyone with access to an internet device with a microphone (this includes most models of computers, tablets). Classes will take place with a "Live" instructor at the date/times listed below.

Upon registration, the instructor will send along additional information about how to log-on and participate in the class.

Refund Policy

  • Upon request, we will refund less 5% cancellation fee of a course up until 6 business days before its start date.
  • Students who withdraw after that point but before the first class are entitled to 75% refund or full course credit.
  • After the first class: 50% refund or 75% course credit.
  • No refunds or credits will be given after the second class.

In any event where a customer wants to cancel their enrollment and is eligible for a full refund, a 5% processing fee will be deducted from the refund amount.

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Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research was established in 2011 in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. Its mission is to extend liberal arts education and research far beyond the borders of the traditional university, supporting community education needs and opening up new possibilities for scholarship in the...

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