Topic Name Description
Course Introduction Page Course Syllabus
Page Course Terms of Use
1.1: Overview of Ethics Page Penn State University: "What is Ethics?" and "Basic Ethics Concepts"

Read these articles, which offer a comprehensive introduction to ethics and also introduce the concept of justice, which will be covered in Unit 4. As you read, attempt to correlate the types of ethical theories and origins with your personal viewpoints and experiences.

Page The Philosophy Pages: Garth Kemerling's "The Origins of Western Thought", "Socrates: Philosophical Life", "Plato: Immortality and the Forms", and "Plato: The State and the Soul"

These articles will guide you through the early major philosophical thinkers of the ancient world, and how their thoughts and beliefs helped to shape our society. Aim to compare your beliefs and morals with the ethical and moral theories of these early theorists, and think about how ethical theory has evolved through time.

URL WiseGeek: "What is the Difference Between Ethics and Morals?"

Read this article, which examines some of the dimensions along which ethical behavior and morality differ.

Page DCU Institute of Ethics: Bert Gordijn's "Ethics—Current and Future Challenges"

Watch the video, which is a presentation by Professor Bert Gordijn, a leading international expert in bioethics. The speaker introduces the key ethical behaviors and notes the current and future challenges of ethical behavior facing various organizations. As you watch the video, try to relate the behaviors to how current challenges are faced in areas such as healthcare, religious organizations, and the media.

Page The Open University: "Ethics in Complementary and Alternative Medicine"

These sections examine a real-world link to ethical behavior in the healthcare sector. It presents an example of how we apply ethical behaviors to our fellow human beings, a concept which contrasts to how we treat the environment in which we live.

Page New World Encyclopedia: "Metaethics"

Take notes as you read this entry. This is the first of three ethical viewpoints presented. As you work through the rest of Unit 1, make sure you can correctly distinguish among these concepts because they will appear often throughout this course.

Page University of Oxford: Marianne Talbot's: An Introduction to Ethical Reasoning

Watch this lecture that introduces and discusses ethics and the key differences between the four theories about moral facts. As you watch the video, try to frame the main theories and beliefs discussed within the context of the early philosophers you studied.

Page New World Encyclopedia: "Normative Ethics"

Take notes as you read this entry.  This is the second of three ethical viewpoints presented. As you work through the rest of the unit, make sure you can correctly distinguish among these concepts because they will appear often throughout this course.

Page University of Oxford: Marianne Talbot's: Virtue Ethics

Watch this lecture that discusses virtue ethics, a key normative ethical theory. As you watch the video, try to frame the main theories and beliefs discussed within the context of the early philosophers you have studied so far, noting particularly the links to Aristotle. Consider how this branch of ethics may have evolved since the early ethical philosophers.

Page University of Oxford: Marianne Talbot's: Deontology

Watch this lecture that discusses Deontology, another of the key normative ethical theories. As you watch the video, you should attempt to compare these ideas with the ideas presented in the lecture on Virtue Ethics. Do you have any strong feelings as to which theory may hold more value in terms of your own beliefs and morals?

Page New World Encyclopedia: "Applied Ethics"

Read this entry, taking notes as you read. This is the third of three ethical viewpoints presented in this unit. Make sure you can correctly distinguish among these concepts—they will appear often throughout this course.

URL 1.1 Discussion

After you have finished reading, reflect on the following questions. If you wish, please post your thoughts on Saylor’s Discourse forum. Leave a reply to your classmates’ posts as well!

  1. Do you agree with the differences between ethics and morals? Why or why not? 
  2. What would you add to this definition? What would you delete from it?

Note: You will need to create an account at discourse.saylor.org to participate in the forum. Signing up is free and only takes a moment.

1.2: Environmental Ethics URL Wikipedia: "Ecosystem Services: Economics"

Read the Economics portion of this webpage, which discusses the economic valuation of the Earth’s Ecosystem Services. Ecosystem services are basically the benefits that people gain from ecosystems in the world. Within this text, find the estimated value of the world's ecosystem services and natural capital. Are you surprised by this value? Do you think it is too high or low?

Page University of California, Irvine: David Feldman's "Introduction to Environmental Ethics"

Watch this lecture, which introduces the history and basis of the environmental ethics movement. Take notes as you watch the video; in particular, note the perceived importance of the ecosystem services to the global economy. Also make notes on your own opinions of the importance of the environment and how you think it may shape the future of our society (if at all).

Page Capilano University: Michael Fleming's "Does Nature Have Intrinsic Value?"

Read this article, which discusses a central issue of environmental ethics: whether nature has value. The "Notes” section of the entry outlines some of the major opinions surrounding this issue. Pay particular attention to the summary of Rolston's arguments, and to the four positions held by those who discuss value in nature. Aim to determine where your own beliefs may fit in the various beliefs and arguments described.

Page Capilano University: Michael Fleming's "Non-Western Perspectives on Environmental Ethics"

Read this article, which provides an introduction to how the topic of environmental ethics is viewed around the world, which we will explore further in Unit 2. How do you perceive Western culture dominating the discussion about modern-day environmental ethics? Do you feel it is ahead of or behind the views of other parts of the world, and what role do you believe the media plays in portraying this culture?

Page New World Encyclopedia: "Altruism"

Read this entry, taking notes as you read.

Page Penn State University: Brandi Robinson's "Public and Private Goods / The Tragedy of the Commons"

Read this article, which introduces several key terms central to an understanding of the "tragedy of the commons." As you read, take notes on each of the terms.

File US Fish and Wildlife Service: "Traditional Ecological Knowledge for Application by Service Scientists"

Read this article, taking notes as you read. This article talks about what traditional ecological knowledge is, how its use has changed over time, how it is being used by organizations like the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and describes methods on how data is being collected.

Page PBS: "Radiometric Dating"

Watch this short video explaining what radiometric dating is and how it has been used to estimate the age of fossil specimens. This data is important now when talking about climate change and how the Earth and the life on Earth has changed over time so we can predict what may happen in the future.

Page Climate Challenge: Interview with Dr. Donald Brown, "Are Climate Change Deniers Committing Crimes Against Humanity?'

The video shows an interview with Dr. Donald Brown from Penn State University, and discusses ethical questions linked to our climate. As you listen to the discussion, think about your own position on these types of questions. For instance, do you believe it is ethical for an energy company to pay for climate change propaganda?

As you watch the video, also question your understanding of how actions in one part of the world can affect other parts of the world. The basis of this argument begins to form the idea of environmental justice, which we will discuss in Subunit 4.1.

Page Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs: Darrel Moellendorf and John Tessitore's "Climate Ethics and the Copenhagen Accord"

The participants in the podcast discuss the future of ethical decisions that will affect the balance between economic growth and climate change mitigation. The discussion centers around decisions about environmental issues made during recent world summits, which greatly determine the future for ethical approaches to our climate, and how these goals may be met while still maintaining global development. As you listen, attempt to make a stance on what you believe is the right thing to do in balancing the future of our climate with economic growth.

Page Wireless Philosophy: "Ethics: Moral Status"

This video discusses moral status and speciesism, what characteristics of a subject give it moral concern. The speaker brings up the thoughts that what species you are gives you a moral status.

Page Out of the Box: Martin Balluch's "The Struggle for Animal Rights"

This video gives a history of the animal rights movement and recounts the struggle that animal rights campaigns have encountered. The speaker has a clear bias towards animal rights, which you may or may not choose to agree with. Some of the changes in the attitudes towards animals go hand in hand with the developments in the environmental movement during the same period. These changes in the environmental movement and accompanying laws will be discussed further in Unit 5.

Language Advisory: Please note that the lecturer briefly uses strong language around minute 19:30 of the video. Feel free to skip over this section of the video if preferred.

Page Capilano University: Michael Fleming's "Animal Rights"

Read this article for an introduction to the topic of animal rights. At the end of the short introduction, there is a series of "important questions”; attempt to briefly answer these questions using your own views about animal rights. Continue to read the "Notes” section, which outlines some of the major opinions surrounding this issue. At the end of this section, there are three questions. Write a short answer to these questions based on your reading thus far and your personal views.

2.1: Introduction to Environmental Ethics and Approaches Page Mount Holyoke College: Tom Wartenberg's "Intro to Environmental Ethics"

Watch this brief introduction to environmental ethics. This lecture gives examples of where environmental ethics may be seen within our society. This will give you an initial focus for what you will be learning this unit.

Page Capilano University: Michael Fleming's "Anthropocentric vs. Non-Anthropocentric Environmental Ethics"

Read this article, which provides an excellent introduction to the four approaches to environmental ethics we will cover below. The short essays in the "Notes” section lay out the key arguments of each viewpoint. You should make notes that you can refer to throughout the remainder of this unit, and attempt to frame your views under the viewpoint (or viewpoints) you believe best matches your ideals.

Page SDI Encyclopedia: Bruce Najor's "Anthropocentrism"

Read this article. Note the key points of the approach so you can compare it with the others presented in this unit.

Page WorldNews Network: Eileen Crist's "Confronting Anthropocentrism"

Watch this video. It is the first of four videos that will introduce the four key environmental ethical beliefs: Anthropocentrism, Biocentrism, Ecocentrism, and Deep Ecology. Take notes and compare this viewpoint with those discussed in the other videos in this unit.

Page Environmental Ethics @ Rhodes: "Biocentrism"

This article defines biocentrism. Make sure to note the key points of the approach, to compare it with the others presented in this unit

URL Manchester School of Architecture: "Paul Taylor - Biocentric Egalitarianism"

Read this text. It is the second of the four key environmental ethical beliefs. Make notes and compare this viewpoint with those discussed in this unit.

Page Environmental Ethics @ Rhodes: "Ecocentrism"

Read this text. Note the key points of the approach so you can compare it with the others presented in this unit.

Page Jeannine Richards' "Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time"

Watch this video. It is the third of four videos that introduces the four key environmental ethical beliefs. Make notes and compare this viewpoint with those discussed in this unit.

Page The Dictionary of Ethical Politics: "Deep Ecology"

Read these definitions of deep ecology. How do the definitions put forward by Shena Turlington and David Landis Barnill differ? How are they similar? Which conceptualization do you feel is more valuable?

Page Encyclopedia of Earth: "Deep Ecology"

Read this article, which provides an excellent description of the deep ecology ethic and movement. Though deep ecology is generally the least supported environmental ethic, support for it has been increasing. From the articles that you have read, can you see any basis for justification of this belief? In what major ways do you think that this viewpoint differs from the other three environmental ethical viewpoints?

URL Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute: Stephen Beasley-Murray's "The Gaia Hypothesis: An Approach to Problem Solving in the Environment"

Read the first three sections of this page, which discuss the Gaia hypothesis. Do you believe that the theory holds weight, and that we could observe some of impacts as outlined in the hypothesis?

URL Schumacher College: Stephan Harding's "From Gaia Theory to Deep Ecology"

Read this article, following the argument as the text works through the Gaia theory and the "Daisyworld” model, and moves on to an explanation of Deep Ecology. Do you agree with the author's viewpoint on how we are educated to understand ecology and its evolution?

Page University of Cambridge: James Lovelock's "The Gaia Hypothesis"

Watch this video series of short interview clips with the creator of the Gaia hypothesis, James Lovelock. Despite the emphasis in the interviews of Gaia still being a hypothesis, do you think it is actually a process that we are seeing occur on Earth today?

URL Subunit 2.1 Discussion

Reflect on the following questions. If you wish, please post your thoughts on this subunit's discussion forum. Leave a reply to your classmates’ posts as well!

After you have studied all four viewpoints, attempt to identify which of these views is closest to your own beliefs. Or, explain why these views are not close to any of your beliefs. This can often be hard to do, and while we may think that our ethics regarding the environment rest in one place, they can often be very different when we truly analyze our behavior.

Note: You will need to create an account at discourse.saylor.org to participate in the forum. Signing up is free and only takes a moment.


2.2: Utilitarian Conservation and Biocentric Preservation URL Wikipedia: "Utilitarian-Based Land Ethic"

Read this background content before you compare and contrast utilitarian versus biocentric views.

File Ethnobiology and Conservation (Vol. 1): Rômulo Romeu Nóbrega Alves's "Relationships Between Fauna and People and the Role of Ethnozoology in Animal Conservation"

Read this article, which discusses the role of plants and animals in relation to their use by humans, both historically and into the present day. The text goes on to suggest methods for conserving these resources. Identify the key points about how our treatment of plants and animals may have changed over time, and whether you agree or disagree with these ethically.

Page Virginia Tech: "Society for Philosophy and Technology (Vol. 1): César Cuello Nieto and Paul T. Durbin's 'Sustainable Development and Philosophies of Technology'"

This article discusses the progress of the sustainable development movement, and how it can be viewed in different ways. Biocentric preservation has its core in sustainability and forms a vital part in how we view a sustainable future. As you read the article, think about how biocentric preservation could be linked to each of the five different interpretations of sustainability presented in the text.

2.3: Religious Views about the Environment Page Capilano University: "The Historical and Cultural Basis of the Current Environmental Situation"

Read this article, which outlines the historical and cultural basis of the current environmental situation, and details the historical roots of the current ecological crisis. Make notes on the three key ideas presented in the text. How do they match with current religious beliefs of the 21st century?

Page University of Idaho: Greg Möller's "Religion and the Environment"
Read the introduction and watch the lecture that follows. These pieces describe how the environment is viewed in various religions. As you watch the video, make brief notes on each of the religions summarized. At the end, review your notes and attempt to group each religion under one of the approaches to environmental ethics presented earlier in this unit.
Page University of Idaho: Greg Möller's "The Ancients and Nature"
Watch the lecture, which discusses the dependence of early civilizations on the environment. The video covers not just Ancient Greece but other civilizations, each demonstrating a similar attitude towards the environment. As you watch the video, link the attitudes of each of these civilizations with an environmental ethical viewpoint covered earlier in Unit 2.
Page K.J.W. Oosthoek's "Environmental History - Between Science and Philosophy"

Read this article for an overview of environmental history. This editorial presents the origins and philosophical underpinnings of environmental history, and highlights significant interactions of humans and the natural world throughout history. Note that the influence of Greek philosophy on our concept of nature is discussed part way through the text. After reading the article, do you believe that our understanding of and attitude towards the environment has improved or degraded over time?

Page The Journal of Sustainability Education: Dennis Martinez's "The Value of Indigenous Ways of Knowing to Western Science and Environmental Sustainability"

This article discusses how, compared with modern-day scientific methods, the Native American culture relies heavily on "knowing the land." Do you believe that the traditional knowledge of Native peoples has something to offer Western science?

Page Grace Church: "A Christian View on the Environment"

Watch this video, which outlines how the environment is regarded in the Christian religion and discusses whether these principles may be applied to current issues. As an example, the speaker talks about climate change and how it is not addressed in the Bible. How do you believe we can justify modern environmental issues with religious beliefs written many years prior?

Page Biola University: Garry DeWeese's "Ownership and Stewardship of the Environment"

Watch the four videos. The first video discusses the idea of ownership of the environment, with the remaining three discussing stewardship of the environment. As you watch, attempt to identify the key points of the beliefs in order to compare them with other religions in this unit.

URL Alliance of Religions and Conservation: "What does Buddhism Teach about Ecology?"

Read this article, which touches on the attitudes of Buddhists towards the environment.

Page Australian Religious Response to Climate Change: Bhante Sujato's "Buddhist Scriptures and Teachings"

Read this article.

Page Nathan Thompson's "Reflections on a Buddhist Environmentalism"

Read this blog post, which touches on the key attitudes of Buddhists towards the environment. How does this differ from other religions you have read about thus far? Can you relate the views to an environmental ethic, as covered earlier in the unit?

URL Preston Hunter's "The Modern Environmental Movement: Jewish Perspectives"

The article is a summary of the traditional Jewish philosophies and how they could be linked with modern environmental issues. As you read, attempt to identify the key points of the beliefs in order to compare them with other religions in this unit.

Page Irshaad Hussain's "Man and Ecology: An Islamic Perspective"

As you read this article, attempt to identify the key points of the beliefs in order to compare them with other religions in this unit.

URL Imam B.A. Hafiz al-Masri's "Creatures of God"

This video talks in particular about animal cruelty, but this is integral to Islamic attitudes towards the environment. As you watch, attempt to capture the key points of the beliefs in order to compare them with other religions in this unit.

Page Pankaj Rastogi's "Hinduism and Environment Conservation"

As you read this blog post, attempt to identify the key points of the beliefs in order to compare them with other religions in this unit.

Page Australian Religious Response to Climate Change: Vijai Singhal's "Hindu Scripture and Ecology"
Read this short article. The passage delivers a message of how one should act towards "Mother Nature."
Page "Saving the Environment"

Read this short article. Sikhism is a monotheistic religion that originated in South Asia. 

URL Subunit 2.3 Discussion

Reflect on the following questions. If you wish, please post your thoughts on this subunit's discussion forum. Leave a reply to your classmates’ posts as well!

Compare and contrast the eight religions/belief systems you have encountered in this unit. A good way to start this analysis is to list each religious viewpoint and look for similarities and differences, you can also do this in a chart format. Then post your findings and the trends that are most interesting to you.

Note: You will need to create an account at discourse.saylor.org to participate in the forum. Signing up is free and only takes a moment.


3.1: The History and Key Events of the Environmental Ethics Movement Page OpenStax College: Gillen Wood's "Sustainability: A Comprehensive Foundation, Chapter 10: The Human Dimensions of Sustainability: History, Culture, Ethics"

Read these sections. The text is directly related to sustainability ethics and how our understanding and attitudes have evolved over time. After reading the text, attempt to link the key features of the sustainability movement with the environmental movement. Are they one and the same, or are there stark differences?

URL "Timeline of European Environmental History, Part 1: Prehistory and Antiquity"

To understand the history of the environmental movement, one should appreciate the significant human developments of the past. Read this timeline to get a sense of the history of European environmentalism. Click "expand all" to see each entry in the timeline.

URL "Timeline of European Environmental History, Part 2: Middle Ages and Early Modern Period"

To understand the history of the environmental movement, one should appreciate the significant human developments of the past. Read this timeline to get a sense of the history of European environmentalism. Click "expand all" to see each entry in the timeline.

URL "Timeline of European Environmental History, Part 3: Industrial Revolution and the 20th Century"

To understand the history of the environmental movement, one should appreciate the significant human developments of the past. Read this timeline to get a sense of the history of European environmentalism. Click "expand all" to see each entry in the timeline.

Page Senator Gaylord Nelson's "How the First Earth Day Came About"

Read this article by Senator Gaylord Nelson, one of the founders of Earth Day, for a brief history of the events that led up to the first Earth Day in 1970.

Page Cat Johnson's "What The First Earth Day Can Teach Us About Sharing"

Read this article and watch the videos, which detail the background of the Earth Day movement.

URL Consequences (Vol. 1, No. 3): Jesse H. Ausubel, David G. Victor, and Iddo K. Wernik's "The Environment Since 1970"

Read this article, which describes the environmental movement during the period 1970 - 1995. The journal article provides an excellent account of the environmental changes that were observed during this period. As you read, think about what has changed (for better or worse) and what hasn't since the article was written - in the areas of production, consumption, and population; global, regional, and local environmental issues; and regulation and management.

URL Ginger Butcher's "In the Fog about Smog: Solving the Smog Puzzle on Earth and from Space"

Read this article, which discusses some of the most common air pollution problems scientists have had to tackle. This article walks you through some of the issues regarding smog, especially in Los Angeles. It also talks about the ozone depletion issue and some of the ways we have controlled and improved this environmental problem.

Page European Environment Agency: "A Europe of Firsts: Environmental Achievements"

Read this timeline. How do you think that attitudes towards environmentalism have changed in Europe since the 1970s? Do you see a marked increase in environmental action since the 1970s?

Page Environmental Ethics @ Rhodes: "Ecofeminism"

Read this article on ecofeminism. The text introduces the origins of ecofeminism and the lists problems that it has addressed. Do you believe our attitude towards the environment may change if we see an increase in female politicians who have the power to impose laws and regulations?

Page "Inspirations from Marti Kheel's Ecofeminist Ethics of Care"

Watch this video, which presents the experiences of four people influenced by Marti Kheel - a vegan, ecofeminist, activist-scholar credited with founding Feminists for Animal Rights. Do you believe the influence of certain people can parallel the influence of religious beliefs in shaping attitudes about the environment?

Page The Open University: Mo Telford's "Climate Change and Sustainability"

Read this chapter. How do you believe climate change and sustainability will be interdependent as we move forward?

URL Unit 3.1 Discussion

After you have finished watching/reading, reflect on the following questions. If you wish, please post your thoughts on the discussion forum. Leave a reply to your classmates’ posts as well!

In a brief paragraph, explain what Earth Day means to you and how you can apply this to your daily activities. Give specific examples on what you currently do to help. What possible activities you could do in the future to help more?

Page University of Idaho: Greg Möller's "Definitions of Sustainability and Sustainable Development"

Read these short introductions and watch the video lectures that follow. Taking sustainability as meaning "meeting the needs of today without compromising the needs of the future," do you think this is an achievable target for the human race to meet, or are our current consumption trends only going to become worse?

3.2: The Key Pioneers of the Environmental Ethics Movement Page Mrs. McCauley's "John Muir Biography"

Watch this short video about the life and history of John Muir. How different do you think the landscape today might look in the United States, if not for the work of John Muir?

Page National Park Service: "History of the National Park Service"

Read this history of the national parks. The article discusses the history of their creation, noting in particular Yellowstone and Yosemite - the latter of which John Muir was a key advocate for preserving. Take a moment to think of a time you may have visited a national park or had the desire to visit one. Some of these parks would have not been possible without the advocacy of certain key individuals. For their efforts, we owe great thanks.

Page National Center For Public Policy Research: "Sierra Club"

Read this brief description and history of the Sierra Club, founded by John Muir in 1892. How important do you believe non-governmental organizations, such as the Sierra Club, are in driving forward issues and trying to influence the government to make changes?

Page Wikipedia: "Theodore Roosevelt"

Read this short except from the entry for Theodore Roosevelt from Wikipedia. Pay particular attention to the Conservation section, and note the key achievements made in this area. Take time to consider how different the American landscape might look today if some of the conservation efforts and laws enacted by Roosevelt had not been implemented.

Page U.S. Department of the Interior: "The Bureau of Reclamation: A Very Brief History"

Read about the history of the Reclamation Act, signed into law by Theodore Roosevelt. In light of what we know today, how "sustainable” do you think this Act is? Can we continue to use water at the rate we do, especially when considering the impacts of population growth and the potential for climate change?

Page U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: "National Wildlife Refuge System"

Watch this video, which summarizes the history and achievements of the National Wildlife Refuges that were created by Theodore Roosevelt. How do you believe these refuges have helped to preserve wildlife from the threat of development?

URL The Aldo Leopold Foundation: "Aldo Leopold"

Read this short biography of Aldo Leopold. How do you believe Leopold began to shape the foundation for wildlife management? Do you think he may have faced opposition?

Page Peter Losin's "Review of Curt Meine's 'Aldo Leopold: His Life and Work'"

Read this review of the Curt Meine's biography of Aldo Leopold. What element of Leopold's ambition for pioneering conservation do you find the most admirable?

URL The Aldo Leopold Foundation: "A Sand County Almanac"

Read the short summaries of the linked text. At the bottom of the page there is a link to a PDF Fact Sheet; click on the link and read the article. How do you think Leopold's views helped to shape environmental change in that era?

URL The Aldo Leopold Foundation: "The Land Ethic"

Read the short summaries of the linked text. At the bottom of the page there is a link to a PDF Fact Sheet; click on the link and read the article. How do you think Leopold's views helped to shape environmental change in that era?

Page U.S. Forest Service: "History of Gifford Pinchot, First Chief, 1905-1910"

Read this short biography of Gifford Pinchot. As you read the excerpt written by Pinchot, try to put yourself in the mindset of the early 20th century. At the time, it was the norm to just take what you needed. The term sustainability was not even a thought in anyone's mind.

Page U.S. Forest Service: "The Greatest Good"

Watch this short video about the history of the U.S. Forest Service. As you watch, take time to reflect on how different the U.S. landscape might look if programs such as the Forest Service had never been established.

Page U.S. Forest Service: "History"

Read this brief history of the U.S. Forest Service. Take time to think of an occasion when you may have experienced the joys of the forest or woodland in your local area or country. How did the experience make you feel?

Page "The Fires of 1910"

Watch this video about the firestorm of 1910. How damaging do you think the great fire in 1910 was to the progress of the Forest Service and the wider conservation movement?

URL Wikipedia: "DDT"

Read this overview of the history and impacts of DDT. 

URL Mark Stoll's "Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, A Book that Changed the World"

Click on the link for the virtual exhibition and begin reading the history timeline for Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. The website offers a very comprehensive history of the book, its author, and associated major events before, during, and after it was written. When you have finished with the Overview page, click "next” and go through each page in the timeline. Read the text, watch the videos, and listen to the podcasts. When you have finished, try to summarize how you think this book has helped to shape the history of the environment, and the environmental movement, over the past 50 years.

3.3: Formation of the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) Page United States Environmental Protection Agency: "The Guardian: Origins of the EPA"

Read this article, which details early environmental conservation efforts in the United States, and discusses the events surrounding the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1970. Why did environmental protection emerge so strongly as a political issue during this time? What were the major forces or beliefs driving these changes? Do you think advances in scientific understanding were a key catalyst for change? You may find it useful to make notes in this section, to refer to when we discuss U.S. environmental law later in Unit 5.

4.1: Environmental Justice Page US Environmental Protection Agency: "What is Environmental Justice?"

Read this definition of environmental justice according to the EPA.

Page Garth Kemerling's "Plato: The State and the Soul"

Begin reading this text at "What is Justice?” and continue to the end of the page.

Page UCLA, Education for Sustainable Living Program: Michael Cox and D'Artagnan Scorza's "Environmental and Social Justice"

Watch this video, which outlines the principles of environmental and social justice, and includes an in-depth analysis of how Machiavellian movements influence the decisions made in society. The video's introduction takes several minutes, but stick with it. How do you think our concepts of environmental justice change with economic pressures? For example, do you believe that in times of positive economic growth we allow more thought and money to be applied to the environment?

Page University of Kansas: Marya Axner's "Healing from the Effects of Internalized Oppression"

Read this article, which discusses the ways discrimination, oppression, and internalized oppression can affect individuals or groups, and, in turn, communities. It then goes on to discuss how these issues may be addressed and resolved. As you read the text, what do you think is the biggest driver of prejudice? And do you believe society as a whole is getting better or worse at facing the problem?

URL The Daily Kos: “Martin Luther King and the Struggle for Environmental and Social Justice"

Read this article, which discusses what some think was the starting point for the environmental injustice movement. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. went to Memphis in 1968 to address the people dealing with a Sanitation strike. The black Americans in Memphis were subjected to environmental injustice by there being a double standard regarding environmental issues in the city. This was the last speech he gave, and was shot the next day in Memphis.

Environmental issues abound but can one person make a difference, or does it take the masses?  Did Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. have as much effect on the future of the environmental injustice movement as some say he did? 

Page IEHIAS: "Ethical Issues: Environmental Justice"

This article from IEHIAS, the Integrated Environmental Health Impact Assessment System, presents various reasons behind environmental prejudice and injustice, though it suggests we lack definitive explanations.

URL Detroit Food Justice: "Principles of Environmental Justice"

Read the 17 principles of environmental justice, drafted by the delegates to the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit held on October 24-27, 1991, in Washington, DC. The 17 principles help to define reasons behind environmental injustices, and what the summit aimed to eradicate. How likely is it that these goals will become a reality and in what time frame?

URL Unit 4.1 Discussion

After you have finished watching/reading, reflect on the following questions. Post your thoughts on the discussion forum and reply to your classmates’ posts.

How can governments tackle the issues of environmental injustices? What can we do internationally? Brainstorm some ideas for what would work in your community and what has not worked well in the past.

4.2: Environmental Injustices throughout the World Page Bristol Community College Multicultural Committee: Daniel Faber's "Environmental Justice"

Watch this video, which begins with the speaker taking a broad-brush look at environmental injustices across the U.S. and the globe. He then narrows focus to discuss specific environmental issues within Fall River and New Bedford, MA. As the video presents many issues of potential health degradation, attempt to link this perceived favor for economic development over environmental health with one of the four environmental ethics studied in Subunit 2.1.

URL Democracy Now!: "Chevron Oil Refinery Fire in Richmond, California Forces Over 900 Residents to Hospitals"

Watch this video. How do you believe the demographics of the local community allow for the presence of the Chevron facility? Do you think such a facility would be present in a predominantly white Californian community?

4.3: The Environmental Rights Movement URL World Health Organization: Dinah Shelton's "Human Rights, Health & Environmental Protection: Linkages in Law & Practice"

This paper provides detailed links between human rights and environmental rights, and will help you to understand how environmental issues affect the goals of the WHO with respect to health issues and human rights.

URL Wikipedia: "United Nations Conference on the Human Environment"

This article uses the 1972 Stockholm United Nations Conference on the Human Environment as a starting point for its discussion on environmental and human rights. This is the whole declaration made at that conference, this page also includes a link to a narrative of all 26 Principles. What did Principle I of the Stockholm Declaration state? How does this Principle cross over into human rights?

Page LawyersandSettlements.com: "Environmental Law"

The text summarizes types of environmental litigation cases and explains how the lawsuit process works. Do you believe it is important to have strict enforcement of the laws to ensure compliance?

Page Tom Theis and Jonathan Thomkin's "Sustainability: A Comprehensive Foundation, Chapter 9: Modern Environmental Management"

Read this chapter. From your readings thus far, can you link any changes in environmental management with major events which have shaped our attitudes towards the environment?

URL Science and Environmental Health Network: "Models for Protecting the Environment for Future Generations"

The paper proposes how various organizations, individuals, and other non-governmental bodies can help secure the future for our environment. As you read the report, aim to identify the key ideas that you believe would make the biggest difference.

Page TED Talks: Majora Carter's "Greening the Ghetto"

Watch this video, in which Majora Carter gives a touching lecture on growing up as a poor child in Bronx who is fighting for environmental justice. These individuals and groups are the future of alleviating environmental injustice in poor neighborhoods. She talks about all of the progress that is being made in her location.

5.1: History of Environmental Law Page Aaron Bush, Ethan Foss, Eric Park, and Dylan Waters' "Environmental Law History Timeline"

This presentation briefly covers the environmental history in the United States in the context of both federal and state laws. 

URL United States Environmental Protection Agency: "EPA History"

Click on the link and scroll down the page to the timeline section, "Milestones in EPA and Environmental History.” The timeline can take several seconds to load, so please be patient. Scroll through the timeline, clicking on each of the events to read a short explanation of the major events that have occurred during the history of the EPA. As you read, consider whether any of them have affected your life in any way.

5.2: Environmental Law in the United States Page University of California: "Environmental Laws and Regulations"

The material summarizes the major federal, state, and international laws and treaties entered into by the United States. Pay attention to how federal and state laws work and compare these later in Unit 5 to how EU laws and Member State laws work.

Page The Free Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History: Jim Kershner's "NEPA, the National Environmental Policy Act"

Read this detailed history behind the introduction and implementation of the NEPA. This Act is often regarded as the foundations of modern-day environmental policy in the United States. Once you have read the article, try to determine how the Act may have shaped the environment for the better. What parts of the Act do you believe may have the greatest positive impact on preserving the environment?

Page US Environmental Protection Agency: "Summary of the Clean Air Act"

Read this brief summary of the Clean Air Act.

Page US Environmental Protection Agency: Senator Edmund S. Muskie's "The Meaning of the 1977 Clean Water Act"

Read the brief introduction to the Clean Water Act. How do you think the Act may have helped to improve the health of U.S. citizens?

Page U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: "Endangered Species Act: Overview"

Read this introduction to the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

URL National Resource Defense Council: "Reference/Links: Environmental Law & Treaties"

This reading summarizes the key environmental laws. How do you think environmental law may take shape in the future, do you think regulations will become more stringent, and how do you think politics may play a part in this future?

URL Unit 5.2 Discussion

After you have finished watching/reading, reflect on the following questions. If you wish, please post your thoughts on the discussion forum. Leave a reply to your classmates’ posts as well!

Did you know that the ESA not only protects and preserves species, it also protects local economies? Example: Protecting salmon species supports commercial and recreational fishing. 

Search online and find another species that is currently being protected so as to support a local economy.

5.3: Environmental Law in the European Union URL European Commission: "Environmental Assessment"

Read this section which gives an overview of European environmental assessment and the EIA Directive.

URL World Regional Geography: People, Places, and Globalization, Chapter 2, Section 3: "The European Union and Supranationalism"

Read this section, which gives an introduction to the history of the European Union.

URL The European Union: "A Healthy and Sustainable Environment for Future Generations"

Read the introduction, then click on the link below the Environment heading to read the PDF publication "A Healthy and Sustainable Environment for Future Generations”. How do you feel about the progress being made in the EU? Do you think it is an example for the world to follow, or is there still room for improvement?

5.4: The Impact of Environmental Law URL European Environment Agency: "Has Policy Improved Europe's Air Quality?"

Read this article, which provides a summary of the benefits of the introduction of emission standards for road vehicles in the European Union. Follow the hyperlinks in the article to read about the background of the various initiatives that have reduced air pollution in member states. How do you believe better air quality will improve the health of EU citizens?

Page The Encyclopedia of Life: "Point Source Pollution and Nonpoint Source Water Pollution"

Read these two articles, which will give you some background on types of sources of pollution. This week while driving or walking around your neighborhood, look for possible sources of pollution? Are they Point or Nonpoint source pollution examples?

URL Wikipedia: "Hinkley Groundwater Contamination"

Read this article, which provides a summary of the issues surrounding the Hinkley Groundwater Contamination made very famous in the movie with Julia Roberts “Erin Brockovich”. If you have not seen this movie before you may want to watch to see environmental justice and law in action. This was one of the largest environmental class action suits in history.

Page Foreign Policy in Focus: Kristin S. Schafer's "One More Failed U.S. Environmental Policy"

Keep in mind that this article represents the views of one person, which you may choose to disagree with. Once you have finished the article, analyze the ethics of what you have read. Do you believe it is acceptable to have separate rules and regulations for different countries?

5.5: The Future of Environmental Law Page United Nations University: Kenji Watanabe and Saeko Ikeda's "What Future for International Environmental Law?"

This article summarizes the textbook, The Future of International Environmental Law (Leary and Pisupati, 2010). Capture the three main points of the summary, and see if you can justify which may have the greatest influence on improving the effectiveness of environmental law.

Page Foreign Policy in Focus: David Hunter's "Global Environmental Protection in the 21st Century"

Read this article, which summarizes major international environmental events and treaties of the past several decades. It goes on to identify and discuss shortcomings in the current international environmental framework, and propose principles to ensure environmental compliance and action in the 21st century. As you read through the article, pick out some of the arguments that you believe are key to ensuring environmental sustainability for our future. Can you think of any other ideas?

Study Guide and Review Exercises Page Unit 1 Study Guide and Review: Ethics and the Environment
Page Unit 2 Study Guide and Review: Environmental Ethics Approaches and World Views
Page Unit 3 Study Guide and Review: Environmental Ethics History and Its Pioneers
Page Unit 4 Study Guide and Review: Environmental Justice
Page Unit 5 Study Guide and Review: Environmental Law
Optional Course Evaluation Survey URL Optional Course Evaluation Survey

Please take a few moments to provide some feedback about this course. Consider completing the survey whether you have completed the course, you are nearly at that point, or you have just come to study one unit or a few units of this course.

Your feedback will focus our efforts to continually improve our course design, content, technology, and general ease-of-use. Additionally, your input will be considered alongside our consulting professors' evaluation of the course during its next round of peer review. As always, please report urgent course experience concerns to [email protected] and/or our discussion forums.