Over the years Professor Bryant's teaching style was developed from three outstanding teachers: Ron Lippitt of the National Training Laboratory and the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, Paul Freire, author of the Pedagogy of the Oppressed, and Miles Horton of Highlander, a folk school in the Mountains of Tennessee. In the classroom, students are encouraged to view themselves as resources to be shared with one another and to be less reliant upon authority-dependent relations of the faculty. Too often faculty view themselves as the to sole disseminators of worthwhile information, thus relegating students to passive dependent roles with little or no important knowledge to contribute. Role plays, simulations, and small group exercises, are the pedagogical techniques used to help students share their knowledge, resources, and experiences with each other in classroom discussions. Often times it takes considerable skill to get students to feel comfortable enough to both view themselves as resources and be willing participants in group discussion. In this instance the teacher abdicates a certain amount of control in the classroom and becomes both student and teacher in the learning process. Authority-dependent relations are thus discouraged, enhancing independence of thought, personal autonomy, critical thinking and quality interaction or interdependence among peers and with faculty. Since the classroom is student centered, this creates an atmosphere for them to take charge of their own learning. Through this process they liberate themselves from the shackles of authority-dependent relations by becoming actors, not spectators, and by coming together in human solidarity, creating a belief that they can transform the world in which they live. Active participation in the learning process requires students to make perceptual shifts from being the object of knowledge to the source of knowledge and from being authority-dependent to being active teachers and learners. Group participation helps students share their knowledge with peers, preparing them to be open minded for teaching and learning throughout life. Another important component of the teaching and learning process is reflecting and integrating knowledge and the writing of weekly logs of their experiences in and external to the classroom. By writing logs, students are encouraged to organize information in ways that clearly show that they understood readings, abbreviated lectures, and seminar discussions. Students are ask to share their logs with one other person in the class on a weekly basis before handing them to faculty for additional comments. Thus, students obtain feedback from both their peers as well as faculty.

Assumptions about Knowledge and Teaching

Assumption 1: Knowledge can be Violent and nonsustainable. Society often values knowledge that allows one to coerce the world into meeting social needs, regardless of its inherent violence (Palmer, 1983). Both the direct violent application of knowledge as well as its by-products are perhaps at the root cause of many social and environmental problems we experience today. Violence to the planet manifests itself in the clear-cutting of forest, causing erosion of precious soil. Acid rain destroys thousands of lakes and forests in the U.S., Canada, and throughout the world. Global warming increases our vulnerability to shifts in climatic conditions--conditions that cause floods and droughts in various areas of the planet, contributing to famine and other chaotic conditions. The depletion of the ozone layer increases our risks to skin cancer. The production of toxic chemicals, many of which are hormone disrupters or may cause toxic-induced or aggregated diseases, threatens our very survival of present and future generations. The contamination of underground water supplies continues to grow at an alarming rate, particularly in the U.S.; thousands of toxic dumpsites across the country pollutes air, water, and land, lowering property values and causing serious health problems. These are examples of violent and nonsustainable aspects of knowledge or its by- products that threaten our very existence here on planet Earth.

Assumption 2: Knowledge can Reduce Jobs. Scientific knowledge is used to create new technology such as computers driven machines. Every time we produce technology, energy is lost or pollution is created in the process, and a net loss of jobs may result. Technology accelerates the violent and perhaps nonsustainable conditions under assumption one. Shaiken (1980) states that the burgeoning influence of high technology not only threatens jobs in traditional areas, but also in areas that promised jobs for those displaced by the manufacturing sector. A net loss of jobs, due to capital-intensive technology, will definitely create more control over labor by management, as workers compete for scarce job opportunities. In addition, worker pension funds are often invested in technology that forces workers to the unemployment roles and then society turns around and blames them for not having a jobs. The production accelerated by technology increases violence to both the environment and people dismissed from jobs.

Assumption 3: Students can be Sources of Knowledge. Although students are seldom seen as valuable information sources, they nonetheless can be important sources of information. Class discussion, utilizing student resources, can be just as motivating as classroom lectures. Under the right pedagogical conditions students often feel empowered and education becomes a meaningful experience where students view themselves as resources and take initiative for much of their own learning. When students view themselves are resource and take initiative for their own learning, they not only liberate themselves from authority-dependent relations in the classroom, but they feel that they can make a difference in the world in which they live. In the SNRE, undergraduate students organized an ongoing environmental justice course where they teach themselves. This is perhaps the only course in the University where students teach each other.

Assumption 4: Traditional Teaching Fails to Liberate. Perhaps a heavy reliance upon lectures foster authority-dependent relations between students and faculty, thus creating asymmetrical relations and social distance. Students become peripheral spectators in a drama, where the teacher is actor (Palmer, 1983). Students are socialized to be passive-dependent as teachers deposit information in their mental receptacles (Freire, 1974). This authority-dependent relation fails to liberate or engage students in critical thinking which could empower them to take charge of their learning. In fact, authority-dependent relations from infancy to adulthood have become so ingrained in students that they often feel less educated unless lectured.

Assumption 5: The traditional lecture has real limits. It is assumed that lecture are the most efficient way of disseminating accumulated information, mainly because it has been done this way throughout the centuries, and because it is assumed that students will give most of their attention to the lecturer. However, current research clearly indicates that college students at best can only concentrate 15 minutes at a time (CRLT, 1978). This is not to say that lectures are unimportant, but that students might be better served if the 50 minute lecture formats were divided into two 15 minutes periods, each followed by discussion. Such a format would be more consistent with students' concentration stamina. Also, short discussion following the lecture allows students time to integrate the subject matter more fully.

Assumption 6: Often fragmented and specialized knowledge is generated not only for special interest groups, which fund a considerable amount of University research, but for professionals who jealously guard and monopolize scientific knowledge. As more and more specialized knowledge comes under the control of professionals, more and more decisions are lifted from the village square. Professional often feel they have the specialized knowledge to make the best possible decisions for people, thus usurping the democratic process. Decision- making power is taken away from people by turning knowledge into an abstraction. Specialized jargon found in professional journals exclude the general public and prevents them from making informed decisions. When people feel they no longer can participate in decisions that affect their lives, they often become alienated and disenfranchised. Because knowledge is specialized and fragmented, it helps create narrowly defined visions that may differ from macro or holistic perspectives of the world.