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Environmental Ethics: Humans, Culture & Sustainability Ethics & Sustainability Program Spring 2020 Semester - Rome

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Environmental Ethics: Humans, Culture & Sustainability

Environmental Ethics: Humans, Culture & Sustainability Course Overview

OVERVIEW

CEA Partner Institution: CEA Rome Center
Location: Rome, Italy
Primary Subject Area: Philosophy
Other Subject Area: Cultural Studies, Env. Sciences, Sustainability
Instruction in: English
Course Code: PHL320
Course Details: Level 300
Recommended Semester Credits: 3
Contact Hours: 45
Prerequisites: One two-hundred or two one-hundred level courses in the subject area(s) of instruction

DESCRIPTION

The general aim of this course is to explore ethical and conceptual issues regarding the creation of ecologically sustainable societies. What, exactly, should we seek to sustain, and why? What would a genuinely sustainable society look like? You will ask whether economic growth facilitates or undermines sustainability; investigate sustainable political and social practices, businesses, and lifestyles, and discuss consumption issues. A study of the phenomenon of climate change will also be a particularly weighty element in this course.

You will explore the philosophical foundations of a plausible environmental ethic that may merge human responsibilities towards nature - and elements thereof: animals, plants, species, ecosystems - to our ongoing quest for flourishing and self-understanding in a globalized, highly interconnected, overpopulated, ecologically deteriorating world. After an initial exploration of the roots of the current environmental crisis, the class will turn to a consideration of possible responses. You will examine such issues as the impact of different worldviews upon environmental behavior, the problem of the moral standing of non-human species, the spatiotemporally unbound structure of phenomena like climate change and the challenges it poses to our moral psychology, as well as to our ethical and political systems more generally; our responsibilities to future generations; and the potential and/or desirability of developing specific environmental virtues that may contribute to flourishing in what many now call "The Anthropocene" - the epoch in which human activity has become the main driver of Earth's biological and geological evolution.

The readings in the course are designed to both articulate and challenge typical Western ways of looking at "the environment". Not all cultures have a concept of "the environment" as something completely other than human culture and practices. In fact, some cultures would say that the very need for an "environmental ethic" reflects a degree of alienation from nature that is not necessarily replicated elsewhere in the non-Western world. Since many questions of environmental ethics operate through issues of scale (climate change, for instance, is both global and local), we will constantly be asking whether a Western understanding of "the environment" helps or hurts when projected onto the rest of the world and used as a conceptual model and/or a basis for policy-making.

*This course is cross-listed as SUS320

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