ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS
PHIL206 Spring 2008, Carroll College, Helena MT.

Dr. Mark Smillie
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Class meets MWF 10:00-10:50 am, in 102 O'Connell
Office: 142 St. Charles ; Phone: Ext 5416
Spring 2008 Office Hours : 4:00-5:00, MTW; 9:00-10:00, WF;
Or by appointment


COURSE SYLLABUS

COURSE DESCRIPTION

In Environmental Ethics we study the moral relationship between human beings and the environment, and consider how to ethically defend our actions on the environment and its nonhuman contents. We will be particularly interested in understanding relevant ethical principles and values in order to defend and justify our choices in this regard. We also study the value and moral status of the environment and its contents—animals, plants, ecosystems, etc.

This course especially fulfills the philosophy department's aim to help students explore ethics and investigate their core beliefs about themselves and their place in this world. Environmental Ethics fulfills the Applied Ethics requirements of the Ethics and Values Major and the philosophy CORE Requirement. It makes an excellent philosophy course for biology and other science majors and is highly recommended for Environmental Studies majors.

COURSE OBJECTIVES

The general purpose of this course is to introduce the student to the issues and theories of Environmental Philosophy, as well as develop the student's skills in applying this ethical knowledge to particular situations. My specific course objectives are

GENERAL STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOMES

TEXTS

Christian Environmental Ethics: A Case Method Approach . James B. Martin-Schramm & Robert L. Stivers. Orbis Books: Maryknoll , New York , 2003. ISBN: 1-57075-499-3

Environmental Ethics: Readings in Theory and Application . Louis P. Pojman and Paul Pojman. Thomson Wadsworth : Belmont , CA , 2008 ISBN-13: 978-0-495-09503-3

A Practical Companion to Ethics , 3 rd Edition. Anthony Weston. Oxford University Press: New York , 2006. ISBN: 0-19-518990-6

MOODLE

This courses will be utilizing moodle, a “classroom management system” (CMS). Moodle stands for Modular Object Oriented Developmental Learning Environment. In short, a CMS like Moodle is basically a way to add web technology to a course. Moodle will allow you and me to do many things on the web that I believe will help your learning experiences, improve our classroom (or “face-to-face”) experiences, and simplify some of the “management end” of the course for me. Just about everything you will do on Moodle will be graded in some way. Moodle will even record your grades, and allow you to see your grades for the course at any time!

If you are a returning Carroll student, you may be familiar with the online “bulletin boards” that many professors use to post materials and even collect assignments from students. Moodle does all this, and in addition, Moodle allows for forum discussions, chats, surveys, collaborative assignments and quizzes. Except for the final, all the quizzes in this course will be online—you will take them on your computers outside of class. There will also assignments in preparation for our class for you to do on Moodle. And, there will be forums, collaborative assignments, and other activities that you will be required to complete outside of class, in tandem with your reading assignments, to prepare for our classes. Moodle is set up by the week; so to see what is do, go to the moodle for our class and find the week, and you will get a snap shot of assignments. You will have opportunities to give me feedback on Moodle as the course progresses, so please take advantage of that too!

To access Moodle, go to www.carroll.edu/moodle , or use the icon on the “students” page of the Carroll website. You log on with your Carroll ID and password. After logon, Moodle should take you right to a list of classes (those class that are using Moodle). Click on Enviromental Ethics, and if you are asked to enroll in the class, select “yes.” The assignments will be listed in the week along with tests and any readings that I have on-line for you. You will need to check on moodle regularly to find these assignments.

STUDENT RESPONSIBILITIES

READING AND CLASS PREPARATION (40%):

A major and significant part of this course will be your reading, understanding, and developing reasoned opinions about philosophical texts.  Consequently, a major requirement of your grade (60%) will be based how much and how well you have done this throughout the course. Taking a philosophy course is mostly doing philosophy, and students cannot do this without grappling with some texts, and even being confused, frustrated, and sometimes outraged by them (these are all normal reactions to philosophy). The burden of proof for completing this requirement will be on you--you must show me not only that that you are reading the material, but that you are reading the material in a thoughtful and engaged way, are seriously trying to assess the truth about the positions taken in the reading, develop your own philosophical views about these matters, and are doing it according to the schedule set by the course calendar.  To help you make your case to me, our online course management system (Moodle) will have assignments with appropriate due dates that will ask you to represent material that you read, to react or assess to views and arguments presented in the material. In the absence of other proof from you, your grade for reading will be based on how many of these assignments you complete on time, and how well you complete these assignments.


GROUP PRESENTATIONS (10%):

Our discussion of practical environmental issues will be done as group presentations. I will select the groups but the group may choose their topic. Topics include: Population and Consumption; Food Ethics; Pollution; Climate Change; Economic Growth and Environmental Quality; Global Warming and Rain Forests; Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Waste; Endangered Species; Herbicides, Pesticides, Fertilizers, and Soil Depletion.

WRITTEN WORK (25%):

Each student will write four essay papers this semester. Directions for writing papers in ethics are included in the Appendix of A Practical Companion to Ethics . These papers will be evaluated on the following criteria: (1) effort; (2) understanding and mastery of the course material; (3) organization; (4) persuasion, including attention to logic, principles of argumentation, and ethical principles; (5) good writing.

EXAMINATIONS (25%)

•  Testing on the material (15%): We have to have tests.  They accomplish a number of beneficial features including: opportunity to gather things together; an incentive to complete readings by a particular time; personal indicators of your own performance in the class and your progress towards your goals in this class; and a challenge to overcome. However, tests are not a major indication of learning in a philosophy class, and so will only count for 15% of your final grade. All tests during the semester will on-line tests using the Moodle.

•  Final exam (10%): Offered during the time scheduled by the registrar. This is an essay-type test whose questions will ask you to analyze , synthesize and evaluate the material from the course. The final exam is worth 10% of the final course grade.

MISCELLANEOUS YET VITAL COURSE INFORMATION AND POLICIES

MY EXPECTATIONS: Students are expected to come to class regularly, commit a reasonable amount of time outside class to k eep up with the assigned reading, do the class assignments, and prepare for all tests. As in all college courses, you are expected to learn some of the material for this class on your own, primarily by reading and studying. Students should come to class ready to examine, discuss, and maybe even disagree, with the readings, and willing to participate in all in-class activities. Everyone should show a healthy sense of personal responsibility for their own learning, and respect for the professor and other students while in class. I am available outside of class to discuss your progress in this class at any time, and to help you succeed this semester.

STUDENT CONDUCT AND GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES: Students are expected to conduct themselves in a highly professional manner. All conduct in this class should be in accord with the policies established by the Vice-President for Academic Affairs, the Philosophy Department, and the Student Handbook (see “The Carroll Code of Student Conduct” (pgs 99-108). In addition to these guidelines, professionalism includes such things as establishing positive relationships and engaging in positive interactions with peers, colleagues, instructors, active membership in professional organizations, attending respectfully to others who are sharing information with the class or group, being flexible to unforeseen changes in the course syllabus, etc. If a student should wish to appeal their grade, he or she should follow the procedures outlined in the Academic Grievance Policy in the Student Handbook (pg. 109).

PARTICIPATION: I believe that discussion is a key ingredient for success in philosophy. Oral participation includes asking questions, raising objections, pointing out unclarities during class presentations, and actively and positively participating during in-class activities. Asking questions of your fellow students during debates is also encouraged and can help those students in the debate. Interactions should always be respectful of each other, and courteous. Participation will be taken into account for determining borderline grades.

ATTENDANCE POLICY: Attendance is expected of all students, as stated in the Carroll College Catalog (pg 26). Students missing nine (9) class meetings will not be able to sit for the final exam; students missing more than nine (9) class meetings will receive an “F” for the course.

I keep attendance regularly and expect to be informed if some legitimate excuse keeps you from attending class. That way I can inform you of assignments and other things.

READING ASSIGNMENTS: Reading philosophy is (or should be) doing philosophy—and doing it well, means reading well! Truly trying to understand a philosophers thinking helps you develop the skill of understanding your own thinking, and developing it and becoming more confident about it.

This is a reading course—the readings in this course form the basis and the background for class lectures, presentations, discussions, and other activities. They also are the expected setting for your written assignments. If you come to class without having read the readings for the day, there is a good chance that you will be bewildered or confused by the class, or even be unable to participate in the class in any meaningful way. There is an even better chance that you won't do as well on written assignments, as these require that you draw from more than what was discussed in class. Reading philosophical writing can be difficult, and require some discipline and patience with yourself; it takes practice to become good at it. You are probably “getting more out of the reading” than you suspect, and through the practice of reading, you will become better at reading philosophical and other more difficult readings.

WRITTEN WORK—PURPOSE: The primary purpose of writing is to learn a subject and not to obtain a grade. Writing is a process that helps us to think more clearly. Your writing will only help you learn if it is done well—always make your best efforts to express yourself and to make your writing clear and thoughtful.

WRITTEN WORK POLICY: My paper format policy as well as a checklist to follow in writing your papers, and suggestions for success, can be found on Moodle. You are strongly encouraged to consult these prior to writing.
The following policies apply to written work:

Students are expected to understand the idea of plagiarism and avoid it completely in their writing. Plagiarism and other Academic Principles are discussed in the Student Handbook, and in many other reference materials. Contact the instructor if you need some materials on plagiarism. Penalties for plagiarism can include a “F” for the course.

OFFICE HOURS: Office hours are not just for those in trouble. My office hours are a time for you to come talk to me informally, to ask questions about the material or assignments, to review graded work, to get suggestions for further reading, to discuss other topics related to the course. And if you are having trouble with the course work, we can talk about that too, of course. Make an appointment if you wish, or drop by during the posted times!

RETURNING STUDENT WORK: I need at least two weeks to grade and return your essays, though usually less for exams. I will bring graded materials to class and hand them out at the end of the class period. If for some reason you do not get your assignment or exam returned to you, please come by during my office hours (or make some other arrangement with me). FERPA regulations prohibit me from leaving graded assignments outside my office door for pickup.

SPECIAL NEEDS: In its recognition of the unique value of each human being, the college is committed to making reasonable accommodations for qualified students with disabilities. Students with special needs should contact the Academic Resource Center (ext 4504) for further information.

FINAL GRADE CALCULATION:
Points - Grade
100-90 ......A
89.99-80 ........B
79.99-70 ........C
69.99-60 ........D
Below 60 ....F
P/F Grade ...D

 

NOTE ABOUT GRADING IN THIS CLASS: Philosophy classes do not grade the students on whether or not they accept the views of a philosopher or the professor. Grading is an evaluation of a student's understanding of particular philosophical concept or view—as that is expressed by the student in either written or oral form. This includes an evaluation of how adequately the student expression expresses the original, without simply repeating it. When a student is asked to assess a view or defend their own view, the evaluation considers the completeness and reasonability of the assessment/defense—the argument presented, the relevancy of the reasons offered in support of these assessment, and their sufficiency for supporting the assessment in question. For more detail, consult a reference on writing philosophical papers, or see the instructor.

WHEN THE COURSE IS OVER ….If you don't receive the grade you expected, first make sure that you have completed all the assignments, and have the correct grades given for each. Double-check your calculations (letter grade equivalents are included on moodle). If there is still a discrepancy, please contact me as soon as possible. Mistakes happen, and grades can be corrected if this is the case.

COURSE SCHEDULE (OVERVIEW)
(See Moodle for more detailed assignments)

 

UNIT ONE: An Ethic of Ecological Justice (Jan 14-Feb 8). (Christian Environmental Ethics book)
UNIT TWO: Theoretical Perspectives, including animal rights, intrinsic value, biocentrism, ecocentrism, deep ecology, ecofeminism. (Feb 11-April 4) (Environmental Ethics book)
UNIT THREE: Practical environmental issues—Group presentations. (April 7- 21) (Environmental Ethics book)
UNIT FOUR: putting environmental ethics into practice: living simply, vegetarianism, ecoterrorism, etc. (April 23-May 2)

 

A FINAL COMMENT

 

Welcome to the course. I'm glad you've chosen this class, and I promise to do my best to make it meaningful, useful, and enjoyable. Please feel comfortable giving me any comments or suggestions about the progress of the course as we go along. I am happy to make any adjustments to the course that I can.