Topic Name Description
Course Introduction Page Course Syllabus
1.1: Overview of Ethics Page What is Ethics? Basic Ethical Concepts

Read these articles, which introduce ethics and the concept of justice. As you read, think about how these ethical theories relate to your own viewpoints and experiences.

Page The Origins of Western Thought: Socrates and Plato

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. Compare your beliefs and morals with the ethical and moral theories of these early theorists. How has ethical theory evolved over time?

Page What is the Difference Between Ethics and Morals?

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

Page Ethics: Current and Future Challenges

Watch this presentation by Bert Gordijn, a leading international expert in bioethics. He introduces key ethical behaviors, and notes the challenges of ethical behavior that various organizations face. As you watch, relate these behaviors to challenges in the healthcare industry, religious organizations, and the media.

Page Ethics in Complementary and Alternative Medicine

These sections examine a real-world link to ethical behavior in the healthcare sector. They present an example of how we apply ethical behaviors to our fellow human beings and contrasts that to how we treat the environment we live in.

Page Metaethics

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 An Introduction to Ethical Reasoning

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

Page Normative Ethics

This is the second of three ethical viewpoints presented. As you work through the rest of the unit, make sure you can correctly distinguish between these concepts, since they will appear often throughout this course.

Page Virtue Ethics

Watch this lecture on virtue ethics, which is a key normative ethical theory. As you watch, frame the main theories within the context of the early philosophers you have studied so far, noting the links to Aristotle. How did this branch of ethics evolve since the early ethical philosophers?

Page Deontology

Watch this lecture on deontology, which is another of the key normative ethical theories. As you watch, compare these ideas with the ideas 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 Applied Ethics

Applied ethics is the third of the three ethical viewpoints presented in this unit. Make sure you can distinguish between these concepts, since they will appear often throughout this course.

URL 1.1 Discussion

After you have finished reading, reflect on these questions. Post your thoughts on the discussion forum, and leave a reply to your classmates' posts as well!

  1. Do you agree with the differences in the definitions of ethics and morals? Why or why not? 
  2. What would you add to these definitions? What would you delete from them?
1.2: Environmental Ethics Page Ecosystem Services: Economics

Read this article, which discusses the economic valuation of the earth's ecosystem services. Ecosystem services are the benefits that people gain from ecosystems in the world. What is 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 Introduction to Environmental Ethics

Watch this lecture, which introduces the history and basis of the environmental ethics movement. Note the perceived importance of the ecosystem services to the global economy.

Page Does Nature Have Intrinsic Value?

Read this article, which discusses a central issue of environmental ethics: whether nature has value. It also outlines some of the major opinions surrounding this issue. Pay particular attention to the summary of Rolston's arguments and the four positions around the value of nature. Do your beliefs fit into any of these arguments?

Page Non-Western Perspectives on Environmental Ethics

Read this article, which introduces ways that environmental ethics are viewed around the world. Does Western culture dominate the discussion about environmental ethics today? Is it ahead of or behind the views of other parts of the world? What role do you believe the media plays in this?

Page Altruism

Read this article on altruism.

Page 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.

Page Traditional Ecological Knowledge for Application by Service Scientists

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 how data is collected.

Page Radiometric Dating

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

Page Are Climate Change Deniers Committing Crimes Against Humanity?

Watch this interview with Donald Brown from Penn State University, which discusses ethical questions related to climate. As you listen, think about your own position. Do you believe it is ethical for an energy company to pay for climate change propaganda?

As you watch, 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 later in the course.

Page 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 Ethics and Moral Status

This video discusses moral status and speciesism, which is how we determine what characteristics of a subject make us consider it in a moral sense.

Page The Struggle for Animal Rights

This video gives a history of the animal rights movement and recounts the struggles of animal rights campaigns. The speaker has a clear bias for strong animal rights. Some of the changes in attitudes towards animals go hand-in-hand with developments in the environmental movement during the same period. We will discuss this further in Unit 5.

Page 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 answer these using your own views about animal rights. Then, 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 Introduction 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 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. As you take notes, attempt to frame your views under the viewpoint that you believe best matches your ideals.

Page Anthropocentrism

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

Page 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 the others discussed in this unit.

Page Biocentrism

This article defines biocentrism. Note the key points of this approach and compare it with the others in this unit.

Page Paul Taylor and Biocentric Egalitarianism

Read this text, which is the second of the four key environmental ethical beliefs. Make notes and compare this viewpoint with the others in this unit.

Page Ecocentrism

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

Page 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 the others discussed in this unit.

Page Defining 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 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?

Page The Gaia Hypothesis

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

Page From Gaia Theory to Deep Ecology

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

Page 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 Page Utilitarian-Based Land Ethic

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

Page Relationships Between People and Animals

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 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 of the Environment Page 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 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, 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 The Ancients and Nature
Watch this lecture, which discusses the dependence of early civilizations on the environment. It covers not just ancient Greece but other civilizations, each demonstrating a similar attitude towards the environment. As you watch, link the attitudes of each of these civilizations with the environmental ethical viewpoints covered earlier.
Page 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 Value of Indigenous Ways of Knowing

This article discusses how, compared with modern-day scientific methods, the Native American culture relies heavily on "knowing the land". What does the traditional knowledge of Native peoples have to offer Western science?

Page 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 Ownership and Stewardship of the Environment

Watch these videos. The first video discusses the idea of ownership of the environment, and 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.

Page What does Buddhism Teach about Ecology?

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

Page Buddhist Scriptures and Teachings

Read this article.

Page 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 one of the environmental ethics covered earlier in the unit?

Page Jewish Perspectives on the Modern Environmental Movement

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 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.

Page Hinduism and Environmental 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 Hindu Scripture and Ecology
Read this short article. The passage delivers a message of how one should act towards "Mother Nature".
Page Sikhism and 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 The Historical Influences on the Modern Environmental Movement

The authors of this article discuss historical influences on the modern environmental movement in the areas of water and air pollution, deforestation, habitat destruction, and environmental disasters.

How do you think population growth has influenced the environmental movement?

Page 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?

Page 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.

Page 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.

Page 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.

Page 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 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.

Page The Environment Since 1970

Read this article, which describes the environmental movement from 1970 to 1995. The article gives 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.

Page 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 Europe's 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 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 Climate Change and Sustainability

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

Page 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?

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?

3.2: The Key Pioneers of the Environmental Ethics Movement Page Biography of John Muir

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 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, 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 The 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 Theodore Roosevelt

Read this except from an article about Theodore Roosevelt. 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 A Very Brief History of the Bureau of Reclamation

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 The 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?

Page 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 Aldo Leopold's 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?

Page A Sand County Almanac

Read these short summaries of this 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 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 History of the First Chief of the U.S. Forest Service

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 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 History of the U.S. Forest Service

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?

Page DDT

Read this overview of the history and impacts of DDT.

Book Rachel Carson's Silent Spring

This is a very comprehensive history of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, its author, and associated major events before, during, and after it was written. After you have have finished with these materials, 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 The 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 What is Environmental Justice?

Read this definition of environmental justice according to the EPA.

Page Plato: The State and the Soul

Read this analysis of Plato and his effect on the concept of justice.

Page 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 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?

Page 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 Ethical Issues and Environmental Justice

This article presents various reasons behind environmental prejudice and injustice, though it suggests we lack definitive explanations.

Page 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 Environmental Justice

Watch this video, which begins with a broad-brush look at environmental injustices across the U.S. and the globe, and 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 favor for economic development over environmental health with one of the four environmental ethics we looked at in Unit 2.

Page The Chevron Oil Refinery Fire

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 Page Human Rights, Health, and Environmental Protection

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.

Page UN 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 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 Modern Environmental Management

Read this chapter. From what you've read so far, can you link any changes in environmental management with major events which have shaped our attitudes towards the environment?

Page 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 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 Environmental Law History Timeline

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

Page History of the EPA

This timeline provides 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.

5.2: Environmental Law in the United States Page 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 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. After you read, 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 Summary of the Clean Air Act

Read this brief summary of the Clean Air Act.

Page 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 Overview of the Endangered Species Act

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

Page Environmental Law and Treaties

This article summarizes some 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 Page Environmental Assessment

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

Page The European Union and Supranationalism

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

Page A Healthy and Sustainable Environment for Future Generations

Consider the following questions as you read this material: 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 Page 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 links 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 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?

Page 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 One More Failed U.S. Environmental Policy

Read this article, which looks at problems with the United States' environmental policies. After you read, analyze the ethics of the article. Do you believe it is acceptable to have separate rules and regulations for different countries?

5.5: The Future of Environmental Law Page 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 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 Guides Page Unit 1 Study Guide: Ethics and the Environment
Page Unit 2 Study Guide: Environmental Ethics Approaches and World Views
Page Unit 3 Study Guide: Environmental Ethics History and Its Pioneers
Page Unit 4 Study Guide: Environmental Justice
Page Unit 5 Study Guide: Environmental Law
Course Feedback Survey URL Course Feedback Survey