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Environmental Ethics (Lorentzen)

Course Title

Environmental Ethics

   
Instructor(s)

Lois Ann Lorentzen
Professor of Social Ethics
University of San Francisco

   
Discipline

Philosophy

   
Subject(s)

Philosophy: Environmental Ethics; Social Ethics

   
Pedagogical Level

Undergraduate

   
Date

1999

   
Presentation

University of San Francisco

   
Overview

Description

This course provides an overview of environmental ethics, the field of study that analyzes ethical responsibilities for the natural world. The course explores the diverse responses to the concerns raised by environmental problems, analyzing the ethical underpinnings of a wide variety of perspectives. During the course we will explore the history of contemporary philosophical and religious beliefs regarding nature. We will focus on how these ideas have been articulated in both theory and practice. The course will be introductory, covering a wide range of perspectives, and is designed to give you an overview of major players in current debates concerning the environment.

Course Goals

By the end of the course a student should be able to:

  1. Understand the history of contemporary philosophical and religious beliefs concerning nature.

  2. Identify major ethical approaches in the field of environmental philosophy.

  3. Identify major approaches in religious environmental ethics.

  4. Be familiar with the major players and philosophical and religious traditions represented in current debates concerning the environment.

  5. Analyze concrete environmental problems and cases from a variety of ethical perspectives.
   
Format

The course is divided into several major sections:

  1. Introduction
  2. Environmental Ethics in Religious Studies
  3. Environmental Philosophy and Ethics
  4. Social Movements and Environmental Ethics
  5. Research Presentations, and Case Study Analyses
   
Prerequisites

None listed

   
Requirements

Critical Reflection Papers on the Readings
Critical reflection papers on selected readings will be due frequently. Due dates for papers are noted in the syllabus and questions to guide your analyses will be given in class. The papers will be marked with a + or -. If all reading reflections are received and marked +, your grade for this requirement is an A. One missing is a B. Two missing is a C, etc.

Class Attendance and Active Participation
We are entering an ongoing conversation about our ethical responsibility to the natural world. Active and informed participation is required of all course participants. Informed means that you enter the classroom prepared to discuss the readings or to engage guest lecturers and each other.

Midterm Examination
Your midterm is in-class and will consist of short answers and essay questions.

Final Examination
Your final examination is a take home and will consist of essay questions.

Field Work/Case Study
You must do fieldwork and write a 3–5 page analysis of your field research. You will visit a site that may range from a nonprofit organization, to a government agency, to a major corporation, and assess the ethical approaches underlying the group’s actions. We will talk about options in class and how to conduct this fieldwork.

In-Class Presentation of Fieldwork
All students will present the results of their fieldwork in class. Presentations will run roughly 15 minutes. Student will then lead a discussion on a specific case.

Self-Assessment
A one-page, typed, double-spaced, self-assessment is due the last day of class. You assign yourself a grade and justify the assignment.

   
Evaluation
Reading Response Papers
15%
Class Attendance and Active Participation
10%
Midterm Examination
20%
Final Examination
20%
Fieldwork/Case Study
15%
In-Class Presentation of Fieldwork
15%
Self-Assessment
5%
   
Texts

Required Texts

Armstrong, Susan J., and Richard G. Botzler. Environmental
Ethics: New Divergence and Convergence.
New York:McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1993.

Bullard, Robert D. Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class, and
Environmental Quality.
Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1994.

Eder, Klaus. The Social Construction of Nature. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage, 1996.

Gottlieb, Roger S., ed. This Sacred Earth: Religion, Nature,Environment. New York: Routledge, 1996.

Hargrove, Eugene. The Animal Rights/Environmental Ethics Debate. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1992.

Merchant, Carolyn. Ecology: Key Concepts in Critical Theory. Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press, 1994.

McAuley, David. Minding Nature: The Philosophers of Ecology. New York: Guilford Press, 1996.

   
Schedule  
Week 1

Course Introduction
Assigned Reading

  • Gottlieb, 1–14.
  • Armstrong and Botzler, Introduction and Part 1.
 

Environmental Ethics in Religious Studies

Week 2

Introduction to Lynn White, Jr. and His Critics
Assigned Reading

  • Gottlieb, 181–242.
Week 3

Environmental Thought in Christianity
Assigned Reading

  • Gottlieb, 243–309.
  • Armstrong and Botzler, Part 10: Judeo-Christian Perspectives.
Week 4

Comparative Studies
Assigned Reading

  • Armstrong and Botzler, Part 11, 516–39.
  • Gottlieb, 45–180; 445–510.
 

Environmental Philosophy and Ethics

Week 5 Environmental Philosophy
Assigned Reading
  • Macauley, Minding Nature: The Philosophers of Ecology.
Week 6

Animal Rights
Assigned Reading

  • Hargrove, The Animal Rights/Environmental Ethics Debate.
Week 7

The Making of Nature
Assigned Reading

  • Eder, The Social Construction of Nature.
Week 8 Critical Theory
Assigned Reading
  • Merchant, 28–76; 334–69.

Assignments Due

  • Mid-Term Examination
 

Social Movements and Environmental Ethics

Week 9

Midterm Examination

Week 10

Deep Ecology
Assigned Reading

  • Gottlieb, 516–31; 545–57.
  • Merchant, 120–51.
  • Armstrong and Blitzer, chs 53, 54.
Week 11

Social Ecology, Racism and the Environmental Justice Movement
Assigned Reading

  • Bullard, Robert D., Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class, and Environmental Quality.
  • McAuley, 318–42.
  • Merchant, 152–72; 174–245; 371–72.
Week 12

Ecofeminism
Assigned Reading

  • Armstrong and Blitzer, “The Challenge of Ecofeminism,” Part 9.
  • Gottlieb, 317–401.
 

Research Presentations and Case Study Analyses

Week 13–15

Research Presentations and Case Study Analyses

   

Copyright © 1999 Lois Ann Lorentzen.
Reprinted with permission.
The author retains all copyrights for all syllabi materials.
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