Transition Whatcom

A couple of weeks ago I came across several related articles all at once, and all telling me that post-high school education is beginning its own period of transition.  First, New York Magazine's article The University Has No Clothes, telling us that the notion that a college degree is essentially worthless has  become one of the year's most fashionable ideas.  Then there was the article in the Bellingham Herald telling us that due to budget constraints, WWU is considering numerous changes, including eliminating positions, combining majors and restructuring departments.


More helpfully, the Post Carbon Institute released a paper from their Post Carbon Reader, entitled Community Colleges: A Vital Resource for Education in the Post Carb....  "The key question is, "Where in our current educational system is it possible to develop an institutionalize the kinds of education needed to prepare people for work in the post-carbon economy-and to do so relatively quickly?"

The post-carbon era is going to require knowledge and skills that are not commonly acquired in most formal educational settings today. There are numerous areas in which people will need to be educated, not only to meet the needs of an energy-constrained future but to develop their own useful livelihoods."


Finally, this was the same day that the catalogs came out for the new Whatcom Folk School, which has pretty much the same objectives as what the Post Carbon Institute was recommending - outlined by Cindi Landreth in her post on the Whatcom Folk School.


To bring this subject of post-secondary education to a close, let me now recommend an excellent commencement speech by Richard Heinberg.  For advice about life after graduation, students at Worcester Polytechnic wanted to hear from peak oil scholar Richard Heinberg instead of Exxon's CEO. Here's what he told them, where he described Peak Oil: A Chance to Change the World.


More to read:

Living Buildings, Living Economies, and a Living Future, by David Korten

How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall? by Sharon Astyk

The Gentle Approach to Animals Saves Time and Money by Gene Logsden


To Watch:

I Am - hopefully it'll be held over again at the Pickford. A great "Heart and Soul" documentary, looking at what's wrong with the world, and how can we make it better.  When the TW sponsored "Economics of Happiness didn't show up, they could have just as well given us a showing of this well made and thoughtful film. Find out more at



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Comment by David MacLeod on May 24, 2011 at 10:12am
Good ideas, Celt. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Comment by Celt M. Schira on May 24, 2011 at 10:00am

Might could consider contacting the powers that be at Bellingham Technical College and communicating your thoughts. Two specifics come immediately to mind. The Horticulture program was lost, trashed and abandoned at BTC, the mission ceded to WSU. However, the need for more gardening education at every level from continuing education to training future market gardeners is huge and unmet. One WSU class on sustainable agriculture that runs once a year in the next county over is insufficient to meet the needs of potential students who need a local campus and the structure of a program. Many of the potential students have no idea that that market gardening is a viable career field, and that to make it viable for them they need some business training and general education as well as time in the dirt.


The other program is ElectroMechanical Technology, which started out as a night program to train millwrights for the refineries. EMTEC, in theory, used to offer wide variety of evening classes on such useful skills as hydraulic circuits, electricity, reading design drawings and applied mechanics. Only welding is still going strong, and it was always a stand alone program in its own right. BTC, got to love them, still hasn't gotten a grip on the EMTEC program, which has wandered as the refineries quit paying tuition for their students, lost focus, and now is mainly a day program retraining laid off folks. Those of us who work days are just stuck halfway through course sequences. I take EMTEC classes for continuing education in practical skills, seeing as I already have all the degrees that I need and then some, but my fellow students are unable to take the requirements they need to graduate. 


And EMTEC is just great. There's a new BTC/WWU facility on Roeder with a classroom and shop space. The exact thing that we need to do is to retread folks with more how-to, hands-on, fix it, make it work, build it yourself skills and here's a community college program all set up already that does just that.

Comment by Heather K on May 23, 2011 at 4:09pm
The movie "I Am" is being held over at the Pickford!  They will have afternoon & evening showings  on Mon, Tues, Weds, Thurs.

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