PSU Syllabus
PHL310U Environmental Ethics

Instructor: David Komito, Ph.D.
Phone: 541-663-6264; this is my cell phone, I do not have an office phone. In the summer of 2017 I moved from Oregon to Santa Fe, New Mexico, which is on Mountain Time (one hour ahead of Pacific Time).
Email: komito@pdx.edu

Course Philosophy:
Environmental Ethics is a relatively new discipline within the venerable field of Philosophy. Thus the course will begin with a review of the history and main developments in Environmental Ethics and the reading of an important article on The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis. From this foundation the course will continue over the subsequent weeks to explore a number of developments in Environmental Ethics, concluding with a final exam and the creation and submission of a final project.

In past centuries ethical behavior was usually derived from religious systems or political or social (perhaps humanistic) systems. In keeping with recent developments in cognitive science and globalization, this course takes a different view and approach. It takes the general view that the joining of intellectual and affective education and direct experience can produce new insight, and that these insights/experiences can form the basis for deriving individual ethical behavior. To phrase this a bit differently, addressing our current ecological crisis (for crisis it is, even if many heads are ostrich-like"buried in the sand") requires the mobilization of more of us than just our intellectual/cognitive faculties. Clear thought cannot be achieved when we are unconscious of our feelings, so this course also aims at not just intellectual education but also at affective education. To achieve this affective education the course is highly interactive, with students being divided into small discussion groups which will share the results of exercises from the Macy and Johnstone book (see below). These discussions amount to a considerable proportion of the final course grade.

About the Instructor:
I am a scholar of Asian Philosophy and Religion and the Psychology of Religion. My interest in environmental ethics goes back to the early 1980s, first as a result of my exposure to Gregory Bateson and Systems Theory and later when my wife Kayla, who is an artist, gardner and floral designer, introduced me to Ecofeminism and the pioneering work of Joanna Macy. Bateson, Macy, Kayla and the spirit of Green Gulch Farm have inspired my teaching and publishing on ecological thought and ethics and thus the organization of this course. But if real roots are to be named, they would be the mountains and forests of the west which woke me up from my urban Los Angeles childhood slumber. More about me.

Required Textbook:
There is a single required textbook for this course: Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone; Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We're in without Going Crazy, New World Library, Novato, CA, 2012. ISBN 978-1-57731-972-6. All other readings, audio lectures, web sites or videos are linked off this syllabus, or are available in digital form at PSU Library Reserves, and all are available at no cost to you.

Grading:
Grades are determined as follows:

90% = A-; 80% = B-, 70% = C-, 60% = D-, 59% and below = F

There is no "extra credit."

Course Materials and Assignments:
It is important that you read or listen to these materials in the sequence presented in this syllabus, below.

Week 1: INTRODUCTION

  1. Video: Welcome
  2. Audio Lecture: How the Course is Organized and What You Should be Reading this Week.
  3. Audio Lecture: Ethical Behavior Derived from Insight/Wisdom rather than Theology or Morals
  4. Audio Lecture: The Textbook Active Hope and Course Discussions.
  5. What do we mean by environmental ethics? Read the following, in sequence:
    1. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Environmental Ethics
    2. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Biodiversity Preservation
    3. Lynn White: "The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis"
    4. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Pathologies of Environmental Crisis - Theories and Empirical Research
  6. Audio Lecture: The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis and Alternatives to Christian Anthropocentrism

Week 2: NON-ANTHROPOCENTRIC CHRISTIAN ENVIRONMENTALISM

  1. Read Macy and Johnstone: Active Hope, p 1 - 81.
  2. Audio Lecture: Christianity, Evolution and the New Story
  3. Tiellard de Chardin: The Phenomenon of Man
  4. Thomas Berry – The New Story
  5. Tiellard's Influence on Berry and Fox: Tiellard's Influence on Berry
  6. Living the New Story
  7. Brian Swimme video: Cosmological Perspective on the Present
  8. Mathew Fox video: "Recovering the Sacredness of the Earth"
  9. E.O.Wilson: The Epic of the Universe and Non-anthropcentric Christianity
  10. Audio Lecture: Fundamentalism
  11. Quiz on week 1 and 2 material available Saturday and Sunday of this week.

Week 3: DEEP ECOLOGY and SYSTEMS THEORY

  1. Read Macy and Johnstone: Active Hope, p 85 - 103.
  2. Audio Lecture: Deep Ecology and Systems Theory
  3. Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown, "The Basic Miracle: Our True Nature and Power"
  4. About Gregory Bateson and Systems Theory (aka cybernetics), Ecological anthropology and cybernetics
  5. Gregory Bateson: Form, Substance and Difference
  6. Nora Bateson: Symmathesy
  7. Audio Lecture: On Salmon in the Columbia/Snake Watershead

Week 4: ECO-FEMINISM

  1. Audio Lecture:
  2. Macy: Power with vs. power over
  3. Tsultrim Alione: Wisdom Rising
  4. Ecofeminine activism: https://www.treesisters.org/
  5. Fierce women:
    1. https://www.pbs.org/video/american-masters-women-environmental-movement/
    2. Chipko Women of India - https://www.treesisters.org/2017-10-04-18-28-09/blog/22-inspiring-sisters/543-women-who-stood-up-for-trees
  6. Quiz on week 3 and 4 material available Saturday and Sunday of this week.

Week 5: PLURALIST DEEP ECOLOGY: DAOISM and BUDDHISM

  1. Read Macy and Johnstone: Active Hope, p 105 - 120.
  2. Audio Lecture: From Deep Ecology and Systems Theory to the Ecological Ethics in Daoism and Buddhism
  3. Truth in Nature (note that the older transliteration of "Dao" is "Tao")
  4. Nature and Reality in East Asia
  5. Audio Lecture: About the Hinton article
  6. Audio Lecture: Naess, Bateson, Buddhism
  7. The Questions of King Milinda
  8. Joanna Macy video: The Prison Cell of a Separate Self
  9. Joanna Macy, World as Self, World as Lover, Part 1, Section 2 and Section 4
  10. Stephanie Kaza "How Much is Enough? Buddhist Perspectives on Consumerism", in How Much is Enough
  11. Malcolm David Eckel, "Is 'Buddhist Environmentalism' a Contradiction in Terms?", in How Much is Enough

Week 6: ECOLOGY, ETHICS AND INTERDEPENDENCE

  1. Read Macy and Johnstone: Active Hope, p 121 - 160.
  2. Audio Lecture: "Ecology, Ethics and Interdependence", The Mind and Life Dialogs - meeting XXIII
  3. Audio Lecture: The New Story, Non-anthropcentric Christianity and the Buddhist Bodhisattva
  4. Quiz on week 5 & 6 material available Saturday and Sunday of this week.

Week 7: SYSTEMIC ISSUES

  1. Read Macy and Johnstone: Active Hope, p 163 - 200.
  2. The contours of the crashing system: The Wisdom to Survive
  3. Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, NY Times, October 7, 2018
  4. Audio Lecture: In a Complex System its a Matter of Choices: Clothing
  5. Audio Lecture: In a Complex System its a Matter of Choices: Energy
  6. Audio Lecture: Climate Refugees
  7. Audio Lecture: The geological, social and mythic Anthropocene
  8. Audio Lecture: Voluntary Simplicity, Imposed Simplicity, Homeostasis and Choice

Week 8: POLITICS AND ECONOMICS

  1. Audio Lecture
  2. Losing Earth: The decade we almost stopped climate change.
  3. Commentary on "Losing Earth"
  4. Transforming the economy: in the United Nations' draft Global Sustainable Development Report 2019
  5. Quiz on week 7 and 8 material available Saturday and Sunday of this week.

Week 9: DISENCHANTMENT, THE NEW ANIMISM AND RE-ENCHANTMENT

  1. Read Macy and Johnstone: Active Hope, p 201 - 238.
  2. Audio Lecture: Ecofeminism, Disenchantment, The New Animism and Re-enchantment.
  3. Food:
  4. Audio Lecture: Gardening and Re-enchantment
  5. Audio Lecture: Taking Care of the Bees
  6. Audio Lecture: The New Animism and Reconnecting to the Wild World: The Tracking Project
  7. Ecology and the Arts
  8. Enchanted Science
  9. Audio Lecture: Can we change?

Week 10: PROJECTS

  1. The main activity of this week is reading and commenting on student projects. See the course D2L site for more information. Post projects to the discussion board (ideally) by Thursday of this week so there is adequate time for discussion..
  2. Audio Lecture: How we See and What we Know
  3. Climate Change in Cosmic Perspective
  4. Audio Lecture: A Systems View of the Rights, Ethical Treatment and Intrinsic Value of Flora, Flauna and the Planet.
  5. Audio Lecture: A Religious/Spiritual View of the Rights, Ethical Treatment and Intrinsic Value of Flora, Flauna and the Planet.

Week 11: FINAL EXAM

The final exam for the course will be available during the 48 hours of Monday and Tuesday of this week. See the course D2L site for more information.

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PSU values diversity and inclusion; we are committed to fostering mutual respect and full participation for all students. My goal is to create a learning environment that is equitable, useable, inclusive, and welcoming. If any aspects of instruction or course design result in barriers to your inclusion or learning, please notify me. The Disability  Resource Center (DRC) provides reasonable accommodations for students who encounter barriers in the learning environment.

If you have, or think you may have, a disability that may affect your work in this class and feel you need accommodations, contact the Disability Resource Center to schedule an appointment and initiate a conversation about reasonable accommodations. The DRC is located in 116 Smith Memorial Student Union, 503-725-4150, drc@pdx.eduhttp://www.pdx.edu/drc.