[F&ES 859/REL 931] / 2014-2015

American Environmental History and Values

Credits: 3



 The purpose of this course is to provide an overview of major figures, ideas, and institutions in American environmentalism.   The course explores the development of environmental awareness in America as distinct historical strands with diverse ethical concerns.  The course begins with an examination of Native American perspectives on land and biodiversity.  We will then focus on writings from Thoreau and Emerson to explore early American voices in the discourse on “nature.”  To investigate the emergence of conservation and forest management, readings will be selected from Pinchot, Muir, and Leopold.  The beginnings of urban and park planning will be considered in relation to these positions on the management of nature.  Next, the environmental movements from the 1960s onward will be surveyed in readings from the social sciences and humanities.  We will then explore the major debates in environmental ethics and the broader reach for global ethics.  Writings celebrating biodiversity will be examined along with the emergence of conservation biology as an example of engaged environmental scholarship.  Finally, new efforts to widen the interdisciplinary approaches toward environmental issues will be introduced in investigating world religions and ecology as well as cosmology and ecology.