“Oh yeah, I’ll be there. But, what are we going to do?” I asked David Hendrickson, my 4-year academic adviser, sometime during 7th block as we wrapped up a meeting spent knee deep in deciphering a coherent direction to take my big senior tutorial paper. “To be honest, I’m not sure I want to spend my last block at CC thinking about how the world is going to end.” I admitted. “Well, that’s the point. The class is meant to give you an idea of how to survive and thrive – find happiness even – in the face of grave doom. Also, there will be golf.” What a fitting metaphor for graduation.
Smiling through the apocalypse is one of two Senior Year Experiences (SYEs) in the political science department. The some 25 students who filtered through the door on the first day made all made it here one way or another through the Video Dance Party of New Student Orientation 2011, the farewell of Dick Celeste and Jill Tiefenthaler’s inaugural ball. As a collective of 4th years we’ve branched out covered a lot of ground both literally and metaphorically. We’ve studied abroad from Tanzania to Switzerland, conducted research from observing nematode neurons in the CC lab to interviewing Tibetan refugees surrounded by the stupas of Nepal. We’ve tackled tough thesis in Math, Economics, Biology, Political Science and more and then block breaked all across Colorado back country. We’ve served on student government, started new clubs, been leaders in Greek life, and spent countless hours training as DI, DIII, Club and yes, intramural athletes – champions even. The past four years of various majors, extracurricular, adventures, passions, and interests have brought us all back through this door to end our CC careers smiling through the apocalypse.
The first few days of class constituted just that. We begin with some proper-mindset-inducing songs and movie trailer. (for class favorites see: “Naked Men Who Want Your Clothes: Arnold; Choosing the correct response” “The Winans: Question Is” and “Planetary Hook-Ups: When World’s Collide”). Admittedly, more giggles (or general awe at 1950’s special effects) than terror ensued as we explored apocalypse fear of days past. Though perhaps the recent phenomenon of Y2K, 2012 Mayan prophesied doom day, and the myriad of world ending blockbusters of the last decade all might represent a spike in apocalyptic pop culture these days, amusements aside, it is clear that sentiments of the end times have always been with us. Whether it’s the revelations of ancient prophets or the warnings of Robert Heilbroner lamenting “the ubiquitous use of drugs, the extreme sexual relaxation,” and “the defiantly unconventional modes of dress” of our parents’ renegade generation, apocalypse has been with us through the ages.
With the solidarity of historical hysteria established, and the syllabus (available here for inspection – and definitely worth a look) passed out and explained we now embark on diving in to the nuances of 21st century doom. This block will takes us through everything from pandemics to natural resource crises, drought and famine to nuclear Armageddon and global financial collapse. Will human ingenuity save the day and see the human race stretch across the universe to thrive for millennium? Are we doomed to a slow and painful extinction on an war torn Earth we’ve made uninhabitable for ourselves? our kids? our grand-kids? Big questions to ponder in our last month as undergraduates intellectually adventuring between the great walls of Palmer Hall. With, of course, a few outside fitness days and night time class get-togethers to keep it all in perspective. Because, after all, as we learned day 1 we’re all in this together. Until, you know, it ends.