Graduate Liberal Studies Program

Course Description

GLS 592:Environmental Ethics Made Local

Instructor: James Brewster

Desert Solitaire bookcover The Great Work bookcoverThe Art of the Commonplace bookcover

The study of contemporary environmental ethics is framed by several questions:

  • "How do ethics apply to the environment?"
  • "What is environmental stewardship?"
  • "What is the appropriate use of natural resources?"
  • "How can we reconcile differences between the priorities of technology and nature?" And, of equal importance,
  • "What can we personally do, privately and publicly, about these concerns in eastern North Carolina?"

Several significant mentors in the environmental movement will be considered:

  • Henry David Thoreau (the instructor will share his one-man drama about Thoreau),
  • John Muir (the importance of wilderness and the National Parks),
  • Wendell Berry (ethics based on agrarian economics) and
  • Edward Abbey (Southwestern writer on the necessity of direct action).

Mentors with North Carolinian backgrounds will also be studied:

  • Thomas Berry (Greensboro), Roman Catholic geo-theologian who wrote "The Great Work"---an ethic for the future and
  • Rachel Carson (her famous "The Sea Around Us" wwas inspired by the North Carolina coastline).

Native Cherokee environmental ethics will be included.

Problems specific to the New River and White Oak River basin are integral to the course. The class is designed for practical application. Besides regular testing, students are asked to write a major term paper in three parts:

  1. Analysis of a local or area environmental problem,
  2. suggested corrective public policies or regulation, and
  3. the student's personal response to the problem.

Last Update: February 8, 2012