Need: We live in a unique moment in time. Our planet will reach its maximum population in the 21st century and our environmental challenges will also reach their peak. As citizens during this period, we need the background to make important and informed decisions if we are to continue into the 21st century. Environmental ethics consider the ethical relationship between human beings and the natural environment.
Environmental ethics exert influence on a wide range of disciplines, including law, sociology, economics, ecology, and geography. A few of the many ethical decisions that society needs to make with respect to the environment include:
Should we continue to make gasoline-powered vehicles, depleting fossil fuel resources while the technology exists to create zero-emission vehicles?
Should we continue to clear cut forests for the sake of human consumption?
How do we balance human needs with those of other species?
What environmental obligations do we need to keep for future generations?
Do other species have inherent value that would preclude making them extinct?
Audience: Environmental ethics should begin with elementary students and run through adulthood. Although one course on environmental ethics is currently offered at Shepherd University, we have a long way to go to reach all decision-makers.
The audience for the Institute’s environmental ethics programs will be state, federal, and private resource managers involved in day-to-day actions and long-range planning which require ethical considerations to be taken into account for environmental decision-making. In addition, members of environmental organizations, corporations, and other ethics institutes and similar organizations dealing with the challenges of environmental ethics in modern society will be able to benefit from the knowledge gained through the Institute’s applied approaches.