22008 Ecological Balance and Environmental Conservation

Credits: 3 graduate credits in Biological Thought

Prerequisite: Admission to the graduate program in Biological Thought

The course is based on two readers edited by Simona Ginsburg and Susie Fisher, and on books which change from semester to semester.

At its outset, the course examines the present-day environmental crisis by looking into major ecological hazards and several scientific advances (notably genetically modified organisms, GMO) which may or may not lead to new ones. It then identifies the types of knowledge and suppositions required to deal with the crisis, examines the political, moral, social and economical factors that must be considered in possible solutions, and explores the conflicts that these involve. In parallel, the course discusses various environmental philosophies and the concepts of environmental justice and the intrinsic value of nature. It presents anthropocentric, biocentric and ecocentric views, and the opinions of deep-ecologists, ecofeminists and social ecologists; the metaphors of Earth-as-a-Community and Earth-as-a-Living-Whole (the Gaia hypothesis) are explored in detail. Finally, cost-benefit analysis and distributive justice theories are introduced in an attempt to clarify the issues and ideas of globalization, sustainable development and our obligations to future generations. Environmental metaphysics that have shaped western and eastern thought throughout history are also touched upon in this course.