Spring 2022 - REM 320W E100

Ethics and the Environment (3)

Class Number: 5702

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 10 – Apr 11, 2022: Mon, 5:30–8:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units. Philosophy Majors and Minors may not take this course for credit towards their major or minor degree.



An introduction to the field of environmental ethics. Addresses questions such as what obligations we have to future generations and the natural world, as well as the extent of these obligations. Students who have taken PHIL 333-3 or ENV 399-3 "Special Topics in Environmental Ethics" prior to or in 2011 and students with credit in ENV 320W or PHIL 328-3 may not enroll in this course for further credit. Writing.


REM 320W will engage contemporary ethical discourse and environmental writing at an unprecedented juncture in human history. Faced with some measure of ecological disaster and catastrophe throughout our existence as a species, never before have the crises been so global, so inextricably interrelated and so…our fault. We are living at the dawn of the so-called ‘Anthropocene’, a controversial moniker which has been used to both celebrate and lament our rise to global ecological dominance. As the negative effects of climate change and species extinction continue to grow, we are faced with an increasing sense of urgency and a shrinking timeframe to course correct.

In this urgent situation, what role do our ideas about right and wrong play in the future of the planet? In other words, are ecological problems fundamentally moral problems? And if so, what is the best ethical framework for grappling with them? In this class we will explore three interrelated questions related to ethics:
  1. What is the appropriate moral relationship between human beings and the rest of the earth community?
  2. If the current state of affairs is lacking, what methods are being proposed to achieve this optimal moral relationship?
  3. What role does creative and persuasive writing play in articulating, motivating and achieving this relationship between humans and the earth?
We will begin by learning the rudiments of classical philosophical approaches to ethics and morality, but we will focus most of our attention on contemporary environmental case studies and writers. Because this is a ‘W’ section, your work as students will be primarily through, you guessed it, writing; however, reading, discussion, facilitation and presentation will also be important components of this course.


  • Develop a familiarity with the discourse of ethics and its application to environmental problems.
  • Become familiar with place-based examples of environmental problems and reflect on one’s own connection to these problems.
  • Improve ability to engage ethical problems through descriptive and analytical writing.
  • Develop critical thinking, argument, public speaking and discussion facilitation skills.


  • Living Ethically Field Journal 25%
  • Ethics in Writing Chapter Responses 10%
  • Ethical Theory Midterm 30%
  • Environmental Ethics Topic Final Essay 30%
  • Essay draft materials and peer review 5%



Sandler, Ronald. Environmental Ethics: Theory in Practice. Oxford University Press, 2017
ISBN: ISBN-10: ‎0199340722

Marris, Emma. Wild Souls: Freedom and Flourishing in the Non-Human World. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2021.
ISBN: ISBN-10: ‏:16355749

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2022 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with safety plans in place.  Some courses will still be offered through remote methods, and if so, this will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the spring 2022 term.