Environmental Law & Policy: Ethics, Economics and the Environment - LAW 738

2 Hours

In this course, we will explore the ways in which our own personal life choices contribute to the perils of our planet and we will ask into the means of reversing environmental trends that are likely to prove catastrophic if allowed to continue. We will talk about how our food choices affect the health of our environment and the morality of our animal husbandry; how our dependence on fossil fuels is scarring our lands and contributing to the warming of the planet; and how our land use and urban development policies have increased the species extinction rate by as much as 1,000 times background rates, and currently threaten the extinction of one-third of the mammal, bird, amphibian, and wild plant populations of the globe. We will engage core background questions concerning our relationship with the natural world, such as: What is the value of the natural world? Does it take its value from the value we place upon it, or does it have independent, intrinsic value? Are we entitled to Nature’s riches, or do we have obligations of stewardship that require conservation?  If so, to whom are those obligations owed?—to one another? to future generations? to individual animals? to species of animals? to ecosystems? to non-living natural entities?  In addition to discussing articles and book chapters written by scientists, journalists, urban planners, environmental activists, lawyers, economists, and philosophers, we will have opportunities for more “active learning.” We will engage in in-class exercises that allow for creative thinking and small group discussions. We will watch films and videos that will take us to places that we cannot go in person. We may take one or two field trips to local sites that squarely challenge the sustainability of our daily practices. And we may hear from guest lecturers who will bring their expertise to bear on questions raised by course materials.   

Fall 2013 Section 001
Syllabus for Fall 2013 section 001