Animating Nature: Hayao Miyazaki’s Vision of Environmental Consciousness


Course Description

All Winter 2021 courses will take place on Zoom. Readings will be available online and by in-person retrieval.

The works of Japanese animator and storyteller Hayao Miyazaki, founder of the renowned Studio Ghibli, articulate a fresh and compelling vision of how humanity can relate to the natural world. Harmonizing elements from several traditions—including Shinto, Buddhism, animism, Christian eschatology, and scientific ecology—Miyazaki’s delightful films depict heroic protagonists seeking to balance human dignity against the disquieting autonomy of nature. His films now enjoy worldwide fame, particularly in North America, where they have penetrated pop culture to the point of influencing the opening credits of a Simpsons episode.

This course will explore Miyazaki’s ideas about the relationship between humanity and nature through the viewing of two films—Nausicäa of the Valley of the Wind and Princess Mononoke—and extracts from three others—Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro, and Ponyo. Questions raised will include: What are the limits of the human knowledge of nature? How can we balance the drive to improve the human condition with a proper respect for nature and its processes? What gaps exist in our own thinking—and in our own traditions—about nature? How can humans live well upon the earth?

Please note that this course has a maximum enrollment of 14 students.

Priority is given to students who pay upon registration.

For fully registered courses, a waiting list will be created. Should vacancies develop, those on the waiting list will be contacted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Course Details

First Session: Wednesday 20 January 2021

Course Length: 6 weeks, Wednesdays, 6:15 p.m. - 8:15 p.m.

Discussion Team: Timothy Budde, Jonathan Powers, Joseph Vietri

Degree Credit: No

Course Fee: 

$120.00 (standard tuition)

$80.00 (promotion for new students)

Administrative Fee:



$145.00 (standard tuition)

$105.00 (promotion for new students)


Course fees are refundable in full before the second session. After the second session, a fee of $50 for the withdrawal will be applied. Refunds will not be issued after the third session. Please note that non-attendance does not constitute a withdrawal.

Students pursuing studies for credit are encouraged to consult with their advisers as they register for courses.

Course leaders, and students wishing to use credit vouchers, should call (514) 935-9585 to pay by phone or to schedule an appointment to pay in person.

If you are a RETURNING student

If you are NEW to TMI