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Environmental Ethics

With growing concern for human health and the integrity of the biological ecosystem, and our increasing knowledge of animal
consciousness, many thinkers have questioned the extent of our ethical obligations toward the environment. Do we have moral duties
and responsibilities to the physical world around us? Many argue that non-human animals are not moral agents; but are they moral patients or moral subjects? Ought our concern for environmental degradation to be grounded in an ethical concern for nature itself or for its impact upon human life? This course examines the place of humans within the natural world, whether the value of the natural world is intrinsic or extrinsic and explores our relationships with other animal species. This course will invite participants to examine a number of perspectives and consider several approaches to the aforementioned issues.

Since the industrial revolution, human beings have been exploiting and polluting the environment. As a result of such a revolution, the world population, along with living standards, increased. The use of chemicals and fuel in factories resulted in the degradation of air,
water, and soil. Therefore, offering a course on environmental ethics in our increasingly opinion-grounded public discourse has become an essential element in a liberal education. As citizens, we have an urgency to become better informed about the science concerning
environmental issues and also to be better equipped as ethical thinkers in order to understand the moral implications of our treatment of the environment. However, because a course in environmental ethics is an applied ethics course, it must be accessible to non-philosophy majors; this course must be useful to those whose majors will lead them to occupations that deal directly or indirectly, or whose occupations have a direct or indirect impact upon, the environment. To that extent, the course is structured in such a way that it does not necessarily assume any background in philosophy and not even in the sciences. The instructor may well elect to assign short readings and other learning materials that promote a lot of discussion about real and current life topics. To guide the students, the instructor will lead students’ discussions and help students think about the concepts introduced in
their readings and even include some daily quiz questions for them to test their own understanding as they go along.
The pedagogical goal is to encourage students to see environmental issues from different points of reference. Students are encouraged to reflect on a range of arguments concerning our attitudes toward and moral duties to nature regardless of whether it concerns animate and inanimate objects. Such reflections will be done through the lens of theories from traditions as diverse as the anthropocentric position to deep ecology to virtue ethics. An important aspect of this environmental ethics course is to construct
opportunities for the students to acquire important knowledge and skills that will enable them to think about environmental issues and to make informed decisions but not overwhelm them or assume too much background knowledge.

Topics To Be Covered:
1. An overview of the human impact on natural planetary systems, with emphasis on recent developments of global scope, from the
unprecedented rate of population increase to “carboniferous capitalism,” forest destruction, ozone holes, warming, etc.
2. Normative ethics; what ethics or morality is, where it comes from, where it is going. This is meant to be a historical survey of
the origin of ethical thought and its evolution through the centuries up to now
3. Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, virtue ethics.
4. Hedonism and Utilitarian ethics.
5. Animal rights, 3 perspectives: Singer, Regan, Alvaro.
6. Animal ethics: Utilitarianism and deontological ethics.
7. Ethical veganism and virtue.
8. Ecocentric Ethics: Land Ethic & Ecocentrism
9. Overpopulation and Overconsumption
10. Global Warming and Global Justice
11. Sustainable Transportation & Sustainable Society.
12. A six hour tour of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and the Aerospace Museum in Washington DC.


Content Delivery: Lectures, videos, photos, class interaction, exercises, role play, simulations, museum tours.

Who Should Attend—High school and college students; policy makers on the environment, agency heads and/or their designees in the public sector in charge of environmental programs; and operatives of NGOs focused on the environment.
- Learning Outcomes— Demonstrate understanding of environmental issues and various approaches to them
- Cogently Evaluate and Critique an Arguments
- To foster committed participation in the local and global communities.
- To foster an environment of openness to the exploration and understanding of diverse ideas, traditions, and cultures.

Course Delivery Locations: Washington DC, USA.

Zoom Distance Learning Delivery: Call or send an email about availability.

Contact Information for Pricing on short courses:

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