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Environmental Ethics: Humans, Culture & Sustainability Liberal Arts & French Studies Program Fall 2019 Semester - Early Start - Paris

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Environmental Ethics: Humans, Culture & Sustainability

Environmental Ethics: Humans, Culture & Sustainability Course Overview


CEA CAPA Partner Institution: CEA CAPA Paris Center
Location: Paris, France
Primary Subject Area: Philosophy
Other Subject Area: Cultural Studies, Env. Sciences, Sustainability
Instruction in: English
Course Code: PHL320
Transcript Source: TBD
Course Details: Level 300
Recommended Semester Credits: 3
Contact Hours: 45
Prerequisites: One 200 level course or two 100 level courses in Philosophy, Sustainability, Ethics, Cultural Studies, or Environmental Studies


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 explore the philosophical foundations of a plausible environmental ethic that may reconcile human responsibilities towards nature to our ongoing quest for flourishing and self-understanding in a globalized, highly interconnected, overpopulated, and ecologically deteriorating world. You will examine such issues as the impact of different worldviews upon environmental behavior; our responsibilities to non-human nature and to future generations; climate change and the challenges it poses to our moral psychology and our ethical and political systems. You will ask whether economic growth facilitates or undermines sustainability, investigate sustainable political and social practices, businesses, and lifestyles; and discuss population and consumption issues. You'll consider the potential 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 the same concept of the environment, and that shapes their attitudes towards it. You'll question the very need for an "environmental ethic," and ask whether it 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), you will constantly question 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.

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