Spring 2023 - REM 320W E100

Ethics and the Environment (3)

Class Number: 7530

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 4 – Apr 11, 2023: 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.


The chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently described this moment as a climate crossroads in which the decisions we make now can secure a livable future. Given the urgency of the climate crisis – and the complex, overlapping social and environmental problems stemming from it – how do we navigate that crossroads in a way that is fair, equitable, and just? What are our duties to the planet, to one another, and to future generations?

This class will explore the ethical and moral questions surrounding our treatment of the environment (and just what, exactly, counts as “the environment,” anyway?). Through discussions of readings, case studies, and current events, we’ll unpack moral frameworks, ethical theories, and competing notions of justice.

Since this is a writing class, a major focus throughout the semester will be further developing analytical writing skills. We’ll hone those skills through a variety of assignments, reflections, and in-class exercises.


* Develop a clearer view of students’ own values and ethical foundations
* Understand key ethical frameworks and apply them to contemporary environmental ethics cases
* Sharpen writing, presenting, and critical thinking skills
* Analyze, evaluate, and construct ethical arguments


  • Introductory Ethical Frameworks Essay 5%
  • Identification Quizzes 20%
  • Class Participation and Engagement 10%
  • Presentation 15%
  • Essay 1: Case Study 20%
  • Final Essay 30%



Required readings and other resources will be available online through Canvas or through the library.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website 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