Fundamentals of Sustainable Living

Course No. 9483
Professor Lonnie A. Gamble, Co-director of the Sustainable Living Program
Maharishi University of Management
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Course No. 9483
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Course Overview

Become a more thoughtful consumer, save money, and reduce your ecological footprint with this course that teaches you how integrate sustainable practices into your everyday life. By learning specific knowledge and techniques on how to work more efficiently with the energy, water, and food you consume, you can live a more balanced and sustainable lifestyle that also positively impacts the world around you.

Sustainable living practices can help you to:

  • reduce your home's energy consumption by 75 percent or more and enjoy the same or better service;
  • heat your home without fossil fuels and produce enough clean energy to contribute back to the grid (or leave it altogether);
  • reduce, and potentially eliminate, your water bill;
  • grow your own pesticide-free fruits, vegetables, and herbs year round; and
  • make effective cleaning products at home that are safer and cheaper than anything you can buy at the store.

And you can do these wherever you live, whether it's on acres of land or in a small city apartment.

Fundamentals of Sustainable Living reveals how you can become an active participant in the worldwide sustainability revolution, in as simple or as ambitious a way as you wish. Across 12 practical and inspiring half-hour lectures, you'll learn concrete strategies for making the shift toward providing for yourself and reducing your cost of living, without compromising the resources of future generations. Guiding you is Lawrence A. Gamble, an award-winning Assistant Professor of Sustainable Living and the Co-Director of the Sustainable Living Program at Maharishi University of Management. A pioneer of the discipline and living proof of sustainability's real-world applications, Professor Gamble hasn't had to pay an electric bill in more than two decades.

The significant financial rewards are only one benefit of cultivating a sustainable lifestyle, but it's a perk that can be realized relatively quickly. As Professor Gamble says, "For about the price of a daily latte, you can put enough solar electric power on your roof to offset your electricity bill. And you don't even have to give up the latte - the system will pay for itself in utility bill savings."

What Is Sustainability?

Whatever the motivation - personal finances or personal ethics - energy and resource conservation are a priority for virtually everyone. The reality of living a sustainable worldview, though, is still new to many of us. First and foremost, sustainability is not about doing without.

It's about doing more with less and working with natural systems to become co-producers of the resources we need to meet our needs, without diminishing the ability of future generations to meet theirs. Every aspect of life can be reconsidered in terms of sustainability, from your choice of home and mode of transportation, to city design and the provenance of your produce.

Fundamentals of Sustainable Living brings this notion to life with demonstrations of how you can implement sustainable practices where you live. You'll leave the studio for eye-opening field trips: see a thriving community orchard; watch the installation of a backyard drip irrigation system; walk through the professor's own greenhouse; tour solar-friendly Fairfield, Iowa; and witness many other aspects of sustainability in action.

  • Food: By cultivating fruit, vegetables, and herbs in your yard, a container, or a community garden, you can be confident that you're eating the safest produce possible. Tips to get you started include step-by-step instructions for building a simple greenhouse that allows you to enjoy fresh produce through winter.
  • Energy: Designing your home to collect and store solar energy pays dividends for your bottom line. Get strategies for using solar - even if you rent, have a shady yard, or can't put panels on your home.
  • Water: Investigate how you can minimize your dependence on the water company by collecting, storing, purifying, and using rainwater to meet your daily needs.
  • Shelter: Travel to the Sustainable Living Center to learn how local rammed earth blocks timber, and earth plasters can be used to create sustainable materials for regenerative buildings.
  • Heat: Visit the Living Soil Compost Lab to learn the recipe for good compost and how heat generated as a byproduct of the process can be used to heat water, buildings, and greenhouses, and even to create a "hot spring" in the snow.

Intellectual Exploration Meets Practical Application

Why do organics cost more? What style of washing machine uses half the energy and one-third less water? Which wild-growing plants are safe to eat? You'll get answers to these and other practical questions throughout, yet this is so much more than a how-to course.

Fundamentals of Sustainable Living zooms out to view the big picture of sustainability and the institutions that flow from it as you explore the interconnectedness between human and natural systems. The underlying science of the course, much like the field of sustainability itself, cuts across a diverse swath of disciplines, including engineering, physics, biology, chemistry, agriculture, and economics.

You'll learn how the disparate parts of sustainability come together in a holistic design process grounded in systems thinking; how energy and the law of entropy play a fundamental role; and how this movement fits in the context of other great societal shifts.

A sought-after consultant, Professor Gamble is truly inspiring. A teacher who successfully practices what he preaches can be relied upon to be knowledgeable, and he is the epitome - not only is his home solar-powered, but also it was built from straw bales with his own hands. He harvests rainwater and grows much of his own food.

And yet he understands that not everyone has the same options he has. These highly visual, informative lectures lay out the potential for a truly sustainable future if a range of possible choices are made on both the individual and institutional levels. With Fundamentals of Sustainable Living, you can understand and help build this future, preserving valuable resources for yourself, your community, and future generations.

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12 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    Making Your Lifestyle Footprint Regenerative
    What does it mean to live sustainably? How can we better live within the biophysical limits of the planet without engaging in self-denial? Begin to answer these questions here as you consider how your choices of home, food, transportation, energy, and more promote a sustainable lifestyle. x
  • 2
    Sustainable Energy Options
    Every day, the sun delivers 14,000 times more energy than the human economy uses. Discover how solar energy in all its forms can be harnessed and used in efficient ways, in addition to the financial benefits that come from using it. Learn how you can use energy wisely in your home. x
  • 3
    Sustainable Building Choices
    Buildings and cities have a huge impact on our well-being, sustainability, and ecological footprint. See how architects design green buildings that are regenerative - giving back more energy than they take - by using natural daylight, nontoxic materials, and superior levels of air quality and thermal comfort, all for about the same cost as conventional building. x
  • 4
    Cultivating Sustainable Landscapes
    If we make our landscapes beautiful and functional, many of our needs can be met where we live. That's the idea behind sustainable landscapes, the benefits of which you'll explore here, from the surprising abundance of edible plants and household materials that can be produced, to the valuable services they can perform. x
  • 5
    Fresh Food from Your Own Garden
    Explore the benefits of local, sustainable food production and find realistic ways you can become more involved with your food, from seed to fork. Learn simple methods for growing fruit, vegetables, and herbs - even if you live in a city apartment - and about revolutionary gardening philosophies and gastronomic movements, including Slow Food. x
  • 6
    Winter Gardening
    Local produce is readily available year round when you know tricks for off-season gardening. Learn the advantages of and methods for planting during the second spring," including tips on building a simple, inexpensive structure that creates a microclimate, making it possible to harvest fresh food all winter long. " x
  • 7
    Sustainable Water Use
    Sourcing clean water and using it wisely are key to sustainable living. Consider how systems can be designed to sustainably provide water for drinking, washing, irrigation, and other uses, and find smart ways to get the same or better services using less. Also, examine ecological approaches to handling storm water. x
  • 8
    Transportation Alternatives and the Ecocity
    Turn your attention to how settlement patterns - from rural to suburban to urban - and their existing infrastructures affect sustainability by defining how people can travel within and between locations. How can cities transition to ecocity design? What are the greenest modes of travel? How can we continue to drive cars and still live sustainably? Find out here. x
  • 9
    Sustainable Products for the Home
    Learn how you can live a greener lifestyle and establish a regenerative ecological footprint through the choices you make every day as a consumer, whether you're shopping for groceries or replacing your carpeting. Find out why organics cost more, how you can make safe and effective cleaning products at home, and more. x
  • 10
    Green Economics: Living Well
    What does a sustainable economy look like? Take an in-depth look at the core concepts necessary for an economy that meets people's material needs while respecting the hierarchy of sustainability and working in service to humanity and nature. Such ideas include a steady state economy and the movement for degrowth. x
  • 11
    Inner Dimensions of Sustainability
    Move from outer elements of sustainability - such as solar energy, ecocities, and organic agriculture - to inner dimensions of sustainability: spirituality, holistic health, and well-being. Learn what faith-based organizations have to say about sustainability, investigate meditation, and delve deeper into the Slow Food Movement. x
  • 12
    Shifting to a Sustainable Worldview
    Integrate everything you've learned in this course with a high-level review. Look closely at permaculture and its ethics; consider the customs of the Tlingit, a self-sustaining people indigenous to the Pacific Northwest; and discover biomimicry, an emerging discipline that uses nature as a model for technological design. x

Lecture Titles

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What's Included

What Does Each Format Include?

Video DVD
DVD Includes:
  • 12 lectures on 2 DVDs
  • 120-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
  • Closed captioning available

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

Video DVD
Course Guidebook Details:
  • Photos & illustrations
  • Suggested readings
  • Questions to consider

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Your professor

Lonnie A. Gamble

About Your Professor

Lonnie A. Gamble, Co-director of the Sustainable Living Program
Maharishi University of Management
Professor Lonnie A. Gamble is a founding faculty member and Co-Director of the Sustainable Living program at Maharishi University of Management, where he has taught since 2003. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from North Carolina State University and has completed additional studies in renewable energy, cognitive science, and computer science at the University of Maine; Maharishi University of...
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Fundamentals of Sustainable Living is rated 4.8 out of 5 by 15.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Knowledgeable Professor Since I am interested in this topic and thinking I would check out what has happened in the last 50 years, I purchased this course due to the great price. I was thinking I might pick up a few tips, but not really expecting to learn much new. How wrong was I! This professor is over the top knowledgeable of the material and was a great source of follow up recommendations for particular topics to be reviewed for much more detail. The recommendations for further reading and leads for organizations promoting sustainable living make the price of the course worth it. Many thanks. The course bounced around a bit between very detailed (making a compost pile) and rather lofty (philosophical) in material which helped keeps up the interest. The course covers a lot of topics and if you are only focused on a small subset of the material provided, you may come away feeling a bit under whelmed and will need to follow up with some of the recommendations. The length of the course is too short to do justice to some of the topics being covered. If you are considering purchasing this course, I suggest you look at the topics before you purchase to make sure you are getting what you are want. For example, the section on gardening often refers to other Great Courses and this is one area that I thought could (maybe should) be expanded--because we can all do something in this area and have an effect. So if this is all you really want to focus on, then you might be better served by checking out the gardening courses and skip on this one--my humble opinion. Some topics are beyond the scope of this course. For example if you are thinking about constructing a sustainable home, then this course will give you some ideas, but the important details about location and detailed design features needed for your location take way more work to get right. The course does cover some ideas about how to approach constructing a home and some broad considerations you might be thinking about. Bottom line, I am glad I purchased and watched this course. I will probably review again as I know I missed some of the finer points.
Date published: 2019-12-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Reducing your ecological footprint! Professor Gamble walks the talk from eco-cities to sustainable design and renewables to permaculture and four season gardening there is something here for everyone. He has an engaging and enthusiastic presentation style that makes you want to explore the concepts of self sufficiency and sustainability in greater detail. His references were very useful. Great value! You won’t be disappointed!!
Date published: 2019-02-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Critical Course Everyone Should Experience Many of the topics covered I knew about, however the course is going to help me design an off grid home that I really want to design and build.
Date published: 2019-02-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent series! I thoroughly enjoyed this series. I particularly liked that it was not just theory, but that the lecturer had personal experience putting his ideas into practice, and that he gave references of where to turn for more information. I think his point of view is spot on. I rarely write reviews, but was so inspired that I look forward to telling my friends and family about this course. Thank you Professor Gamble for sharing your insights with us!
Date published: 2018-01-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fundamentals of Sustainable Living Excellent overview of alternative energy systems. The segment on greenhouse/winter gardening was insightful for the novice like myself. The accompanying booklet has useful reference material for further research and planning. Well done!
Date published: 2017-12-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It gave the definition of the course in a sentence I was a very informative and motivating course. thank you
Date published: 2017-12-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating Course The content and presentation are excellent, the only reservation is with myself, as there are excellent ideas in the course, but I think people find it difficult to follow through on these ideals...
Date published: 2016-10-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from You can't see it if you don't look at it. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting this professor after following his work for years and he is as down to earth in person as he comes across in these lectures. Lonnie’s life you might say is covered in this great course. This course gives you the opportunity to listen to a passionate leader in the area of sustainability. These lectures are full of real world examples and this makes the subjects covered easier to understand. The course guidebook is a great resource that further defines the lectures. I like the additional questions, suggested readings, and activities for each lecture as well. I would recommend a quick review before each lecture so the questions are fresh in your mind. With the addition of the guide I think we could actually put to use some of the examples shown in the lectures. We downloaded this course and watched it on a tablet in our Prius as we traveled from the mid-west to the east coast. This was a long drive and we needed something interesting to watch and listen to. Interesting for sure because we watched them non-stop from beginning to end. I feel this course could substantially improve your life and spirit in more ways than one and may even pay for itself. “cradle to cradle” Your money comes back to you. :)
Date published: 2015-09-02
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