Course dates:
7 August, 2018 to 23 August, 2018
Degree and PhD students €990 / Professionals €1490
Multidisciplinary, Social Sciences
Application deadline:
Tuesday, 26 June, 2018
University of Helsinki
Helsinki, Finland

General information

Target students
This course is designed for students who are interested in environmental and ethical issues. It is recommended for undergraduate students of philosophy, social sciences, sociology, environmental studies, politics and economics. Students from other disciplines are also welcomed. Previous studies in Philosophy and/or Ethics are helpful but are not required.

This course is an introduction to environmental ethics as a philosophical discipline helpful to analysing environmental case studies. It aims to raise awareness about the fundamental and ethical role of the natural environment in our lives. The theoretical part of the course introduces philosophical ethical theories and concepts, while a more practical section presents real case studies and ethical notions from different viewpoints.

Why is ethics important in the modern world and why should ethics be part of policy-making processes? In an attempt to answer such questions, this course will discuss ethical concepts – such as intrinsic and instrumental value, anthropocentrism, ecocentrism, and concern for future generations – together with different types of Environmental Ethics theories – including Deep Ecology, Utilitarianism, Gaia Theory, Aristotelian Virtue Ethics, Deontological Ethics, Ecofeminism, Land Ethics and Animal Rights.

The applicability of different ethical theories will be tested in light of selected case studies about natural disasters and environmental accidents, such as the North Dakota oil pipeline construction (2016–2017) near Indigenous lands; hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as “fracking” in the United States; the unfair polluting policy of TEXACO (now Chevron) in the Ecuadorian Amazon; the Water Wars in Bolivia, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico; the incredibly rich natural environment and the indigenous populations of the Barents Region; and many others.

Concepts such as scientific and aesthetics appreciation of natural environments from the field of Environmental Aesthetics will be also presented in class.

Learning objectives
This course attempts to give students the analytical apparatus to critically analyse the role played by the natural environment in the life of humans and other living species. The course familiarises the students with basic concepts and theories of Environmental Ethics, fostering an understanding on how human factors weigh and carry responsibility for environmental problems.

The students will be trained to see different perspectives, to apply moral theories and draw ethical conclusions from real-life cases in recent news. This enables the students to confront their views in class debates, to better understand themselves, classmates and future work colleagues as citizens of the same world. The course is also designed to train the students’ skills in discussions, argumentation, group work and presentations.



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