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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Andrew Light
PB AF 596
Seattle Campus

Ethics and Values in Environmental and Natural Resource Policy

Explores environmental values and ethics and their relationship to the policy process. Includes content on value foundation of economic efficiency and its relationship to fairness, legal entitlements, duty to other creatures, and incommensurabilities in valuing goods. Current policy controversies are addressed.

Class description

Topic: Ethical Issues in Restoration Ecology.

This course will examine historical and ethical debates over attempts to recreate ecosystems which no longer exist, such as the restoration of tall-grass prairies, wetlands, oak savannahs, and forests. Examples of projects range from small scale urban park restorations, such as those currently underway in Central Park and Prospect Park in New York City, to multi-billion dollar wetland mitigations in the Florida Everglades. Philosophical critics have long claimed that restored ecosystems are unnatural and so either are second best alternatives to efforts to preserve native ecosystems, or else may represent a new form of domination of nature, one where we once again impose our will on what we see as the best forms of natural ecosystems to suit our needs. Topics covered will include controversies over what historical period we restore to, the cultural status of restoration projects in and outside of aboriginal communities, the role of public participation in restoration projects as a form of environmental education, and whether restorations should aim at producing landscapes which can be passed off as originals.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

As this is a seminar the course will be mainly discussion based.

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

Grades will be evaluated on a presentation of one article or book chapter in class during the semester with notes on the chapter distributed to all class participants (25%), a short midterm paper on a topic assigned by the instructor (25%), and a final paper (50%) due during finals week. The topic of the final paper must be given prior approval by the instructor. No exceptions will be made to this rule. A paper turned in that has not been granted written approval will be given a mark of 0. Each participant should provide the instructor with a written summary of the topic of this paper by the ninth week of the seminar. Participants may also provide rough drafts of the final paper to the instructor for comments and suggestions for improvements up to one week prior to the final due date of the paper.

Finally, in addition to these requirements each participant will be required to prepare four short written questions or commentaries on a specific part of the readings assigned for any given week. These commentaries should raise a substantive issue about some part of the reading and should be no more than one typed double spaced page. You should focus your commentary on as specific an issue as is possible. Each question will be given a grade of E (excellent), P (passing), S (satisfactory), or U (unsatisfactory). The grades for the questions will be averaged and applied to the initial course grade from the papers on the following scale: if the average grade is an E, the initial grade for the class will be raised by two steps (e.g., from C to B-) to produce the final grade for the course; if P, the initial grade for the class will be raised one step (e.g., from D+ to C-); if S, the initial grade for the class will not be changed; if U, the initial grade for the class will be lowered by one step (e.g., from C to C-).


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Andrew Light
Date: 11/03/2005