F&ES 857b / 2018-2019

Environmental History and Values

Credits: 3

Spring 2019: Time and location TBA
 

 

This course provides 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. It begins with an examination of Native American perspectives on land and biodiversity and then focuses on writings by Thoreau and Emerson to explore early American voices in the discourse on “nature.” Readings from Pinchot, Muir, and Leopold have been selected to investigate the emergence of conservation and forest management. The beginnings of urban and park planning are considered in relation to these positions on the management of nature. Students survey the environmental movements from the 1960s onward in readings from the social sciences and humanities. The course explores the major debates in environmental ethics and the broader reach for global ethics. Writings celebrating biodiversity are examined along with the emergence of conservation biology as an example of engaged environmental scholarship. New efforts to widen the interdisciplinary approaches toward environmental issues are introduced in investigating world religions and ecology as well as cosmology and ecology.