This course will examine the fascination with ecology in artistic thinking from late Modernism to the present, with a particular attention to the developing interest in social and environmental systems in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. From Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty to Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, artists, scholars and activists of this generation were deeply invested in the interconnectedness of life in all its forms. This new sensitivity to the affinities that bind individuals, and our vulnerability to social, political and economic environments, enabled new aesthetic approaches that have continued relevance today. As part of the course, we will meet with a range of artists, curators and institutions in Philadelphia who are continuing these investigations, including the Colored Girls Museum in Germantown and the Health Ecologies Lab here at Penn. No familiarity with contemporary art is required.