Environmental Philosophy
  I: Administrative Information   II: Course Details   III: Topical Outline(s)  Printable Version
Section I: Administrative Information
  Total hours: 42.0
Credit Value: 3.0
Credit Value Notes: N/A
Effective: Winter 2019
Prerequisites: N/A
Corequisites: N/A
Equivalents: N/A
Pre/Co/Equiv Notes: N/A

Program(s): General Education
Program Coordinator(s): Sarah Sinclair
Course Leader or Contact: Eva Buccioni
Version: 20190107_00
Status: Approved (APPR)

Section I Notes: This is a fully online course offered through SLATE. To take this course, students will need reliable access to the Internet. They should have a basic level of comfort using computers as well as self­ discipline to work online.

Section II: Course Details

Detailed Description
Students explore philosophical approaches to the environment in order to develop a well-grounded environmental perspective informed by current factual and philosophical research. Students study influential environmental thinkers and contemporary philosophical discussions of current environmental issues ranging from pollution to concern for non-human creatures and global climate change. Within the online environment students keep reflective observation journals,research theories and current issues, and collaborate with peers to explore creative visions of an environmentally sustainable future.

Program Context

General Education Program Coordinator(s): Sarah Sinclair
This course is part of the General Education curriculum which is designed to contribute to the development of the students' consciousness of the diversity, complexity, and richness of the human experience; their ability to establish meaning through this consciousness; and, as a result, their ability to contribute thoughtfully, creatively, and positively to the society in which they live and work. General Education courses strengthen students' generic skills, such as critical analysis, problem solving, and communication, in the context of an exploration of topics with broad-based personal and/or societal importance.

Course Critical Performance and Learning Outcomes

  Critical Performance:
By the end of this course, students will have demonstrated the ability to analyze environmental issues from a diversity of philosophical perspectives.
Learning Outcomes:

To achieve the critical performance, students will have demonstrated the ability to:

  1. Define different perspectives on the environment.
  2. Identify specific environmental views held by various traditional and contemporary thinkers.
  3. Use philosophical terminology pertaining to environmental discourse. .
  4. Apply philosophical theories and thought to hypothetical and real-life dilemmas.
  5. Critically examine their own attitude towards the environment within the context of other theories in the discipline.
  6. Recognize the inter-connectedness of a variety of current environmental issues.
  7. Distinguish ethical from practical criteria in environmental decision-making.
  8. Evaluate current environmental issues and cases philosophically.

Evaluation Plan
Students demonstrate their learning in the following ways:

 Evaluation Plan: ONLINE
 Tests (2 @ 20%)40.0%
 Journals (2 @ 15%)30.0%
 Research Assignment20.0%

Evaluation Notes and Academic Missed Work Procedure:
TEST AND ASSIGNMENT PROTOCOL To encourage behaviours that will help students to be successful in the workplace and to ensure that students receive credit for their individual work, the following rules apply to every course offered within the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. 1. Students are responsible for staying abreast of test dates and times, as well as due dates and any special instructions for submitting assignments and projects as supplied to the class by the professor. 2. Students must write all tests at the specified times. Missed tests, in-class activities, assignments and presentations are awarded a mark of zero. If an extension or make-up opportunity is approved by the professor as outlined below, the mark of zero may be revised by subsequent performance. The penalty for late submission of written assignments is a loss of 10% per day for up to five business days (excluding weekends and statutory holidays), after which, a grade of zero is assigned. Business days include any day that the college is open for business, whether the student has scheduled classes that day or not. 3. Students, who miss a test or in-class activity or assignment or fail to submit an assignment on time due to exceptional circumstances, are required to notify their professor in advance of the class whenever possible. A make-up test may be supplied for students who provide an acceptable explanation of their absence and/or acceptable documentation explaining their absence (e.g., a medical certificate). All make-up tests are to be written at a time and place specified by the professor upon the student's return. Alternately, students may be given an opportunity to earn the associated marks by having a subsequent test count for the additional marks. Exceptional circumstances may result in a modification of due dates for assignments. 4. Unless otherwise specified, assignments and projects must be submitted at the beginning of class. 5. Students must complete every assignment as an individual effort unless, the professor specifies otherwise. 6. Since there may be instances of grade appeal or questions regarding the timely completion of assignments and/or extent of individual effort, etc., students are strongly advised to keep, and make available to their professor, if requested, a copy of all assignments and working notes until the course grade has been finalized. 7. There will be no resubmission of work unless this has been previously agreed to or suggested by the professor. 8. Students must submit all assignments in courses with practical lab and field components in order to pass the course.

Provincial Context
The course meets the following Ministry of Colleges and Universities requirements:


Essential Employability Skills
Essential Employability Skills emphasized in the course:

  • Communication Skills - Communicate clearly, concisely and correctly in the written, spoken, visual form that fulfills the purpose and meets the needs of the audience.
  • Critical Thinking & Problem Solving Skills - Use a variety of thinking skills to anticipate and solve problems.
  • Information Management Skills - Analyze, evaluate, and apply relevant information from a variety of sources.
  • Interpersonal Skills - Show respect for the diverse opinions, values, belief systems, and contributions of others.
  • Personal Skills - Manage the use of time and other resources to complete projects.

General Education
This General Education course relates to the following themes as specified by the Ministry of Colleges and Universities.

  • Social and Cultural Understanding

Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition
PLAR Contact (if course is PLAR-eligible) - Office of the Registrar
Students may apply to receive credit by demonstrating achievement of the course learning outcomes through previous relevant work/life experience, service, self-study and training on the job. This course is eligible for challenge through the following method(s):

  • Challenge Exam
    Notes:  Both elements of the PLAR must be completed.
  • Portfolio
    Notes:  Both elements of the PLAR must be completed.

Section III: Topical Outline
Some details of this outline may change as a result of circumstances such as weather cancellations, College and student activities, and class timetabling.
Instruction Mode: Online
Professor: Eva Buccioni
OptionalTextbookEnvironmental Ethics, Boylan, Michael, Wiley, 2014

Applicable student group(s): Cross-College General Education
Course Details:

Module 1 (Units 1 - 2)

Introduction to Ethics & Philosophy
Unit 1: Ethics & Philosophy
E.g. Consequentialist vs. deontology, virtue ethics, realist and anti-
realist positions
Read:  pp. 3-13.
Self-Assessment Survey
Unit 2: Philosophical Thought Experiments
Hypothetical dilemmas (e.g. Trolley Dilemma) and moral preference
Read:  pp.  25-30

Module 2 (Units 3 - 5)

Philosophical Perspectives on the Environment
Unit 3: From Shallow to Deep
E.g. Wise Use Conservationism, Land Ethics and Deep Ecology
Read: pp.  32-46
Evaluation: Journal Entry #1 (15%)
Unit 4: Environment, Women, Social & Environmental Justice
Eco-feminism and justice concerns
Read:  pp. 47-82
Unit 5: the Natural & the Beautiful
Environmental aesthetics
Read:  83-95

Module 3 (Units 6 - 8)

Anthropocentrism vs. Biocentrism and Ecocentrism
Unit 6: Anthropocentric Justifications
Human-centered approaches and instrumental value of the environment
Read:  pp. 115-134
Evaluation: Journal Entry #2 (15%)
Unit 7: Biocentric Justifications
Environment-centered approaches and intrinsic value or inherent worth
Read:  pp. 135-162
Evaluation: Test #1 (20%)
Unit 8: Reconciling Anthropocentrism & Non-anthropocentrism?
Attempts at developing combination perspectives
Read:  pp.  186-197

Module 4 (Units 9 - 11)

Sharing the earth
Unit 9: Other Animals and Us
Human treatment of other animals, speciesism, animal rights and
liberation, e.g Factory farming
Read:  pp. 275-308
Evaluation: Individual Research 10%
Unit 10:  The last Commons - Air & Water
Pollution of air and water, e.g. impact of Alberta Oil Sands
Read:  pp.  201-202 & 216-242
Unit 11:  Caring for the Earth - the Threat of Global Climate Change
Climate change and the question obligations to future generations,
the environment and to the earth for its own sake
Read:  pp. 202-203 & 243-267

Module 5 (Units 12-14)
Questions of Sustainability
Unit 12: What is sustainability and how may it work?
Exploring creative solutions for a sustainable future
Read:  pp. 329-358
Evaluation: Analytical Discussion 20%
Unit 13:  Are sustainability and development compatible?
Can anthropocentric consumerist expansionism be sustained?
What are alternative solutions?
Read:  pp. 371-393
Unit 14: Course Wrap-up & Final Test
Evaluation: Test #2 (20%) in Unit 14

Sheridan Policies

All Sheridan policies can be viewed on the Sheridan policy website.

Academic Integrity: The principle of academic integrity requires that all work submitted for evaluation and course credit be the original, unassisted work of the student. Cheating or plagiarism including borrowing, copying, purchasing or collaborating on work, except for group projects arranged and approved by the professor, or otherwise submitting work that is not the student's own, violates this principle and will not be tolerated. Students who have any questions regarding whether or not specific circumstances involve a breach of academic integrity are advised to review the Academic Integrity Policy and procedure and/or discuss them with the professor.

Copyright: A majority of the course lectures and materials provided in class and posted in SLATE are protected by copyright. Use of these materials must comply with the Acceptable Use Policy, Use of Copyright Protected Work Policy and Student Code of Conduct. Students may use, copy and share these materials for learning and/or research purposes provided that the use complies with fair dealing or an exception in the Copyright Act. Permission from the rights holder would be necessary otherwise. Please note that it is prohibited to reproduce and/or post a work that is not your own on third-party commercial websites including but not limited to Course Hero or OneNote. It is also prohibited to reproduce and/or post a work that is not your own or your own work with the intent to assist others in cheating on third-party commercial websites including but not limited to Course Hero or OneNote.

Intellectual Property: Sheridan's Intellectual Property Policy generally applies such that students own their own work. Please be advised that students working with external research and/or industry collaborators may be asked to sign agreements that waive or modify their IP rights. Please refer to Sheridan's IP Policy and Procedure.

Respectful Behaviour: Sheridan is committed to provide a learning environment that supports academic achievement by respecting the dignity, self-esteem and fair treatment of every person engaged in the learning process. Behaviour which is inconsistent with this principle will not be tolerated. Details of Sheridan's policy on Harassment and Discrimination, Academic Integrity and other academic policies are available on the Sheridan policy website.

Accessible Learning: Accessible Learning coordinates academic accommodations for students with disabilities. For more information or to register, please see the Accessible Learning website (Statement added September 2016)

Course Outline Changes: The information contained in this Course Outline including but not limited to faculty and program information and course description is subject to change without notice. Any changes to course curriculum and/or assessment shall adhere to approved Sheridan protocol. Nothing in this Course Outline should be viewed as a representation, offer and/or warranty. Students are responsible for reading the Important Notice and Disclaimer which applies to Programs and Courses.

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