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NCS 05 — Sacred Mountains of the World: The Heights of Inspiration

Quarter: Summer
Day(s): Tuesdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 6 weeks
Date(s): Jul 11—Aug 15
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Jul 13
Unit: 1
Tuition: $330
Instructor(s): Edwin Bernbaum
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Jul 11—Aug 15
6 weeks
Refund Date
Jul 13
1 Unit
Edwin Bernbaum
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
As the tallest and most dramatic features of the landscape, mountains are naturally associated with the highest and most central values and aspirations of people throughout the world. Remote Mount Kailash in Tibet directs the minds of millions of Hindus and Buddhists toward the utmost attainment of spiritual liberation. Mount Sinai occupies a special place in the Bible as the awe-inspiring site where Moses received the Ten Commandments, the basis of law and ethics in Western civilization. The Hopi and Navajo revere the San Francisco Peaks, in Arizona, as a sacred source of water and healing on which their communities and lives depend. Mount Everest represents the highest goals of many people today.

Views of mountains as places of inspiration and renewal helped give rise to the environmental movement and continue to play a role in galvanizing support for parks and protected areas such as Yosemite and Mount Rainier. Drawing on the instructor’s personal experiences, research, and work with US national parks and UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the course will explore the key role of mountains in mythology, religion, literature, history, and art of cultures around the world. The course also delves into the spiritual dimensions of mountaineering and highlights implications for climate change and environmental conservation. The conclusion focuses on the relevance of sacred mountains in everyday life.

Stanford Continuing Studies has lowered the tuition for this course as part of our mission to increase access to education around nature conservancy, climate change, and sustainability.

Co-Chair, IUCN Specialist Group on Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas; Senior Fellow, Instituto de Montaña

Edwin Bernbaum is a leading authority on sacred mountains, a mountaineer, and a scholar of comparative religion and mythology whose research and work focus on the relationship between culture and nature. As director of the Sacred Mountains Program at The Mountain Institute, he initiated and directed a program to develop interpretive materials with National Parks, including Yosemite and Mount Rainier, based on the cultural and spiritual significance of natural features of the environment in cultures around the world. He also played a major role in international efforts to get Mount Kailas in Tibet, the most sacred mountain in the world for a billion people, and the pilgrimage routes leading to it from Nepal and India, nominated as a trans-boundary UNESCO World Heritage site. An exhibit of Bernbaum’s photographs based on his book Sacred Mountains of the World was on display at the Smithsonian Institution and the American Museum of Natural History. He has lectured widely at places like the Smithsonian, the National Geographic Society, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He recently gave a keynote at a conference on “The Message of the Mountains” held in the Vatican. He is featured in “Beyond the Mountaintops: Extraordinary Mountaineers, Extraordinary People,” an exhibit at the American Mountaineering Museum on eight climbers who have pioneered advances in climbing and humankind. Bernbaum received a PhD in Asian Studies from UC Berkeley.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Edwin Bernbaum, Sacred Mountains of the World, 2nd Edition (ISBN 978-1108819817)