Jennifer W Atkinson
B CUSP 120
Evaluates progress at the conclusion of the first year through the construction of a portfolio and offers an experiential learning opportunity, either on- or off-campus. Prerequisite: either B CUSP 115, B CUSP 116, or B CUSP 117; may not be repeated. Offered: Sp.
ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS AND LITERATURE This course introduces key philosophical issues and debates in the field of environmental ethics. Over the quarter we will examine some of the following questions: What are our moral obligations to animals, plants, species, ecosystems and future generations? Does the natural environment have "intrinsic value" (and what might this mean)? How can we achieve environmental justice? What are the rights of animals? Across all of these questions, we will consider the application of ethical principles to current issues in land use, wilderness protection, agricultural practices and food systems on local and global scales.
While we will primarily focus on contemporary texts, our study will also draw on older philosophical works in order to contextualize the historical development of human interactions with nature. This course will include a significant number of in-class film screenings as well, and provide opportunities to explore environmental values as they are expressed in literary fiction, art and poetry.
The study of environmental ethics will allow students to explore philosophy more generally and investigate core beliefs about themselves and their places in this world. As students move through the quarter, they will become familiar with broader intellectual traditions and philosophic tenets including utilitarianism, holism, socialism, deep ecology and ecofeminism.
Student learning goals
Develop an understanding of philosophical and ethical perspectives on controversial issues presently under debate in the field of environmental ethics and in public discourse more generally.
Develop an "ethic of ecological justice" and explore its application to particular environmental cases.
Produce a final portfolio that presents and evaluates learning from the first year of study in CUSP; reflect on connections made among courses and assignments, and offer projections for how academic accomplishments may contribute to future goals.
Increase communication skills through speaking activities, presentations and group work; generate a cooperative spirit as a community of students and mutually support one another as writers/learners through workshops and peer editing.
General method of instruction
Seminar-style discussions and small group discussions/activities evaluating readings and films.
No special preparation or prerequisite is required for enrollment.
Class assignments and grading
Evaluations of student performance will be based on participation in group discussions, completion of weekly online journal entries, a midterm paper and final portfolio.