In this course we use various philosophical approaches to explore the relations among persons, non-human animals and the worlds they inhabit separately and together. We will look closely at the grounds for claiming that we have obligations and duties in relation to non-human animals and the environment, as well as the ways in which these relations provide inspiration, companionship, solace and love. Topics may include: environmental justice and the disposal of electronic waste; animals and factory farming; the real cost of cheap consumer goods; the historical evolution of the concept of environment protection, of a land ethic, and of the development of natural parks; human stewardship; the possibility that natural creatures have a value that is independent of human benefit and whether it makes sense to grant them legal standing; global climate change; the connections between feminism and environmental ethics; the population time bomb and current responses; green politics; the role of scientific expertise in a democratic society; shallow vs deep environmental movements.
- An introductory sense of some major approaches to ethics and how these have been incorporated into various communities' understandings of how they ought to stand to various environmental issues.
- An understanding of the roles marginalized communities play both in how our society thinks about and addresses environmental issues.
- A sense of the basic institutional arrangements that are evolving to deal with environmental challenges
- The ability to apply that understanding to an analysis of the moral dilemmas currently posed by various environmental issues.
- A more informed understanding of how they might stand to these issues.
Minnesota Transfer Curriculum
- Demonstrate awareness of the scope and variety of works in the arts and humanities.
- Understand those works as expressions of individual and human values within a historical and social context.
- Respond critically to works in the arts and humanities.
- Engage in the creative process or interpretive performance.
- Articulate an informed personal reaction to works in the arts and humanities.
- Explain the basic structure and function of various natural ecosystems and of human adaptive strategies within those systems.
- Discern patterns and interrelationships of bio-physical and socio-cultural systems.
- Describe the basic institutional arrangements (social, legal, political, economic, religious) that are evolving to deal with environmental and natural resource challenges.
- Evaluate critically environmental and natural resource issues in light of understandings about interrelationships, ecosystems, and institutions.
- Propose and assess alternative solutions to environmental problems.
- Articulate and defend the actions they would take on various environmental issues.