SC201--Environmentalism: Philosophy, Ethics, & History--Spring 2013
Tues-Thurs, Period P (12:35 - 1:50 PM)

The Textbooks

Course Description

Course Objectives

Course Policies

Grading System

Course Schedule

Prof. Thomas A. Easton

Photo of Professor Easton
OFFICE: Rm. 108

OFFICE HOURS: 12-3 PM MW, 10-12 AM TTh

OFFICE PHONE: 859-1331

HOME PHONE: 338-1074


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Kline, First Along the River: A Brief History of the U.S. Environmental Movement, Rowman & Littlefield, 4th ed., 2011 (978-1-4422-0399-0).

Easton, ed., Classic Edition Sources: Environmental Studies, McGraw-Hill, 4th ed., 2012 (978-0-07-352764-2).

SC201 introduces the student to the idea that the environment matters to individuals, businesses, and society. It does this by examining how our senses of being a part of (rather than apart from) our environment and of responsibility to the environment have arisen. Readings and discussions survey the place of environmental factors in history, the development of the "Green Ethic," and the prospects for the modern world.

See "Course policies" below for details on testing and grading.

After completing this course, students will be able to:
  • Explain why humans cannot be considered to be independent of the natural world
  • Explain why the environment matters to individuals, businesses, and society
  • Describe the philosophical roots of environmental problems
  • Outline the history of the environmental movement
  • Describe main threads in environmentalist thinking
  • Explain how understanding the past may help humanity solve present problems
Assessment will be by means of six papers, as defined below.

Students should always read their assignments and come to class prepared to discuss the material. Each student may be absent twice without penalty. Each additional two absences without a medical excuse (no others are acceptable) will cost the student three points on the course grade.

Grades will be based on one small initial paper (5%), four larger papers (15% each) and a final term paper (35%). Except for the first one, all papers must be in standard MLA format, with references (at least six each for the four larger ones, and at least twelve for the final term paper) in proper format and properly cited.

Students who plagiarize papers will receive zeros for the work in question, with no makeup opportunities.


A (94 - 100)      A- (90 - 93)
B+ (87 - 89)     B (83 - 86)    B- (80 - 82)
C+ (77 - 79)     C (73 - 76)     C- (70 - 72)
D+ (67 - 69)     D (63 - 66)    D- (60 - 62)
F (below 60)



T 1/8 Opening discussion
Paper #1 (5% of grade; 2-3 pp., typed, double-spaced -- due 1/15): "Ecology" means the study of or knowledge of the house. In biology, the "house" in question is the environment in which a creature lives. For now, however, let us consider just the "house" (which may be an apartment or dorm room) in which you live. How much do you need to know about it? Why?
Th 1/10 Kline, Ch. 1 -- Philosophical Foundations
T 1/15 Preservation vs. Conservation
Easton, Selections 2 & 3--Muir & Pinchot
Th 1/17 How Science Works
T 1/22 You Broke It?  So Fix It, Already!
Easton, Selection 4--Leopold
Th 1/24 Fundamental Causes
Easton, Selections 6 & 7--White & Hardin
Paper #2 (15% of grade; 5-10 pp., typed, double-spaced -- due 1/31): Discuss the basic attitudes behind the environmental problems the world faces today.  In what are they rooted?
T 1/29 Kline, Ch. 2 -- Early America
Th 1/31 It's Ancient History, Right?
Easton, Selections 1 & 5--Marsh & Martin
T 2/5 Kline, Ch. 3 -- Destroying the Frontier
Th 2/7 Ecosystem Services
Easton, Selections 8 & 9--Teal & Vitousek
T 2/12 Ecosystem Services cont.
Easton, Selections 10 & 32--The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (see Moodle for full MEA report and Powerpoint summary) & Abramowitz
Paper #3 (15% of grade; 5-10 pp., typed, double-spaced -- due 2/26): In what ways is humanity dependent upon natural ecosystems?
Th 2/14 Kline, Ch. 4 -- Industrialization
2/18-2/22 WINTER BREAK
T 2/26 Kline, Ch. 5 -- Beginnings of the Conservation Movement
Th 2/28 Kline, Chapter 6--Prelude to the Green Decade
T 3/5 Kline, Chapter 7--The Green Decade, the 1970s
Th 3/7 Energy and Ecosystems
Easton, Selections 11 & 12--Juday & Fowler
T 3/12 Renewable Energy
Easton, Selection 13--Jacobson
Handout (See Moodle)--Turner, "On the Cusp of Global Collapse?"
Paper #4 (15% of grade; 5-10 pp., typed, double-spaced -- due 3/19): Was the environmental movement an inevitable consequence of industrialization? Defend your answer.
Th 3/14 Kline, Ch. 8 -- Conservative Backlash
T 3/19 Wilderness
Easton, Selections 14 & 15--Douglas & Cronon
Th 3/21 Biodiversity
Easton, Selections 16, 17, & 18--SCBD, Worm, & Vandermeer
T 3/26 Pollution
Easton, Selections 19 & 20--Evelyn & Paigen
Th 3/28 Pollution cont.
Easton, Selections 21 & 22--Palmer & Pilkey
T 4/9 Kline, Ch. 9 -- Retrenchment & Apathy
Paper #5 (15% of grade; 5-10 pp., typed, double-spaced -- due 10/13): A "Duh!" moment is when you smack your hand on your forehead and say "Duh! Of course! I should have seen that!"  Which of your readings (so far) best describes a "Duh!" moment?  In what way?  Defend your answer.
Th 4/11 Global Warming
Easton, Selections 23 & 24--IPCC & McKibben
T 4/16 Food
Easton, Selections 25 & 26--Brown & Fedoroff
Kline, Ch. 10 -- Institutionalization of the Environmental Movement
Th 4/18 Social Justice
Easton, Selections 30 & 31-- Sagoff & Bullard

Paper #6 (TERM PAPER) (35% of grade; 15-20 pp., typed, double-spaced): In what sense does environmentalism support social justice?
T 4/23 Population
Easton, Selections 33, 34, & 35--Foreman, Hartmann, & Cohen
Th 4/25 Kline, Ch. 11 -- The 21st Century (so far)
FINAL EXAM DAY Term Paper Presentations (Be prepared to speak briefly about your topic)
Term paper due

Page last modified October 18, 2012.