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Course Details

Course Details

Course Code: PHIL320 Course ID: 3542 Credit Hours: 3 Level: Undergraduate

This course is a study of environmental issues from a moral and philosophical approach. Issues raised in the course include the moral obligation, or lack thereof, to preserve and protect the environment, the ethical presumptions that underlie environmental policy, the traditional theories of moral philosophy applicable to contemporary environmental problems, and the potential for a new conception of the relationship between humanity and nature.

Course Schedule

Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
08/31/20 - 01/29/21 02/01/21 - 03/28/21 Winter 2021 Session I 8 Week session
09/28/20 - 02/26/21 03/01/21 - 04/25/21 Winter 2021 Session D 8 Week session
10/26/20 - 04/02/21 04/05/21 - 05/30/21 Spring 2021 Session B 8 Week session
11/30/20 - 04/30/21 05/03/21 - 06/27/21 Spring 2021 Session I 8 Week session
12/28/20 - 06/04/21 06/07/21 - 08/01/21 Spring 2021 Session D 8 Week session

Current Syllabi

After successfully completing this course, you will be able to:
CO-1 – Identify the various theories and philosophers in the field of environmental ethics.
CO-2 – “Compare and Contrast” traditional and more radical approaches to environmental ethics.
CO-3 – Analyze key issues and areas of disagreement raised in environmental case studies.
CO-4 - Evaluate the claims made by various groups and individuals regarding the ethical status of plants, animals, ecosystems and our relationship and responsibility to them
CO-5 – Assess a particular case study or environmental topic in view of one or more of the ethical theories we have studied in this course.
CO-6 - Critique the current and future status of the global environment.

  1. Proposal: You must first submit a project proposal and have it approved before writing your paper. Topic proposals should be submitted by the end of Week 5, along with a short educational video (most students find something on youtube). The proposal should be 300 – 500 words and be pasted into the submission window in the Assignment section. The proposals are graded and the instructor will work with the students to design the topic for the final paper/project.
  2. Final Paper/Project Papers should be between 1250-1500 words, 12 point font, double-spaced, and formatted in the MLA Style. This is about 6.5 pages. For your paper, you may use your previously written material (from this class) from your Forums A and B. You may use a case study from our textbook Sustainability, or other case studies from our Course Guide or other online resources. If you choose an established case study, you can summarize it with proper reference. You do not have to write your own case study, but you can focus on a particular event or topic or area of research, and write your own case study if you wish. You should apply one of the environmental ethical theories we have studied in this course to the topic. Papers can address either theoretical issues or practical concerns. The paper will be evaluated on form as well as content. It should be clearly written, well organized, and free of spelling and grammatical errors. Sources used in research must be included in the bibliography. References must be supplied for all quotations and also for any idea, insights, or viewpoints you incorporate from reading the work of others. In-text citations require the page number of the text or paragraph number of the website. The reader must be able to look up the exact place in the text or website cited! The paper is due at the end of Week 8.

Most students usually do a traditional paper for their final paper/project, but you can do your final project in a different format if you wish... you could make a video or a PowerPoint presentation, which could include audio narration and/or short video clips.

If you would like to do a PowerPoint presentation, your presentation should be approximately 20 - 30 minutes long (if you were delivering it to a live audience), and it should include at least 12 - 15 slides, and it can be longer. You should incorporate good speaker's notes for each slide. If you are considering doing a PowerPoint presentation, please keep in mind the "best practices" for PowerPoint presentations, and review the 9 minute video below!

Life After Death by Powerpoint 2010 by Don McMillan

Please Note: I have added a Power Point presentation called Best Practices to the Supporting Materials of the Assignment instructions so that you can see how to put together a good Power Point presentation! Please check it out if you want to do a presentation!

NameGrade %
Forums 45.00 %
Introduction 5.00 %
Forum 1 5.00 %
Forum 2 5.00 %
Forum 3 5.00 %
Forum 4 5.00 %
Forum 5 5.00 %
Forum 6 5.00 %
Forum 7 5.00 %
Forum 8 5.00 %
Extra Credit 4.00 %
NASA Quiz 1 1.00 %
NASA Quiz 2 1.00 %
NASA Quiz 3 1.00 %
NASA Quiz 4 1.00 %
C-Roads SIM 10.00 %
C-Roads World Climate SIM - Week 4 10.00 %
Paper Proposal 10.00 %
Paper Proposal - Week 5 10.00 %
Sea-Level Map 5.00 %
Interactive Sea-Level Rise Map - Week 6 5.00 %
Final Paper 30.00 %
Final Paper/Project 30.00 %

Note: All of our assigned course readings are online and available via links to their location in the APUS online library in our Weekly Lessons.

There are no hardcopy texts for this course.

Check our Research Guides here, Environmental Science, and Philosophy:

Note: depending upon your internet browser, you may need to right click and "open in a new window" in order to access the links for the course materials

Primary Readings

Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac – Chapter “The Land Ethic.”

Rachel Carson, Silent Spring; Introduction, and Chapter 3, The Elixirs of Death.

Arne Naess, The Ecology of Wisdom, Section 2: The Long-Range Deep Ecology Movement. Section 2: The Three Great Movements; The Basics of the Deep Ecology Movement; Cultural Diversity and the Deep Ecology Movement; The Place of Joy in a World of Fact pp. 99 105 120 123 . . . Section 5: Problems and Ways Forward Industrial Society, Postmodernity, and Ecological Sustainability Sustainability! The Integral Approach Population Reduction: An Ecosophical View Deep Ecology for the Twenty-Second Century pp. 279 293 302 308

Peter Singer, Animal Liberation; Chapter 1: All Animals Are Equal.

Paul Taylor, Respect for Nature; A Theory of Environmental Ethics; Chapter Three: The Biocentric Outlook on Nature.

The following Chapter for Week 1 is available as a pdf file attached to the bottom of the Week 1 Forum A description.

Rolston, Environmental Ethics, Blackwell Publishing (16 pages).

Also, the following textbook is available online, as well as through the Course Guide in the online library.

Sustainability: A Comprehensive Foundation, edited by Theis and Thomkin,

C O N N E X I O N S: Rice University, Houston, Texas

There is a new online edition of the textbook but if you download the book, you will still get the older addition and the contents and section numbers are actually different. So, if you see some discrepancies when you're trying to formulate your citations, that's the reason for it! You can use either edition… The new online edition or the one that you download to your own computer. They will have different section numbers but don't worry about the discrepancies.

You can click on the green Get This Book button on the upper right-hand side of the web page and download the entire textbook to your computer!


You have the following viewing options for the following course textbooks:

Arne Naess, The Ecology of Wisdom

Paul Taylor, Respect for Nature: A Theory of Environmental Ethics

For example:

  1. You can use the URL link(s)* below;
  2. Or, select the URL link(s)* from the Web Resources module in the navigation menu of your classroom, if available.
  3. Or, use the links in the library’s online catalog. To find the book from the catalog :
    1. Select the ‘Books and e-Books’ link
    2. If you have not utilized Library e-books, please take a moment to read about the different formats and vendors of our e-books.
    3. When ready, select the ‘Online Book Catalog’ link
    4. Click Continue to advance to the Catalog search page
    5. Search by the book’s title and/or author information to find your e- book most effectively.
    6. Once you bring up the appropriate record, the links to each vendor e- book copy are displayed.
    7. Depending on your needs and the availability of the e-book, you may want to click between all of them to find the copy most suitable for you. Printing and downloading options will vary depending on vendor allowances.

*Each of the URLs gives you different ways to look at the book.

  • E-brary—This approach helps maintain your own bookshelf, take notes, and highlight. You can download by chapter (60 pages max per visit) and some titles may be downloaded to adobe digital editions for 7-14 days.

The Ecology of Wisdom:

Respect for Nature: A Theory of Environmental Ethics:

  • Download or Online Reading: EBL—You can read online, check-out the book to your computer for 1 or 3 days at a time and also print roughly 20% of the content.

If you encounter difficulties viewing the e-book, please visit the HELP/FAQs section of the Online Library. If you still have questions, please contact for assistance.

Please Note: Stateside students will not be sent the hard copy version of this text. If you wish to purchase the text, you may do so through our recommended bookstore MBS Direct or the bookseller of your choice.

E-book Links for Leopold, Carson, and Singer!

Adobe Reader is required to view these files. If you do not have this software, please log onto to download the free reader.

You will need to log-in to each link with your student/faculty ID and password. You must be logged in to your campus page before you can access the links. Troubleshooting tips are available in the Online Library in the Course Materials & Bookstore section, and also in the HELP/FAQs section.

Multiple troubleshooting tips are available in the following links: and Please report any issues to

Copyright Alert

Electronic Materials are provided under licensing or in keeping with Fair Use exemptions for your educational use only. You may quote and utilize this material for this, other APUS courses, and related scholarly pursuits. Unless the materials are in the Public Domain or specific written arrangements are made with the Copyright holders, you may not sell, share or otherwise distribute these documents for personal or other use without the likelihood of violating Copyright Law.

Remember: you may need to right click and "open in a new window" in order to access the links to these course materials.

Carson, Rachel. Silent Spring. New York: Mariner, 1962. (Chapter 3)

Leopold, Aldo. A Sand County Almanac. New York: Oxford, 1966. (Part IV)

Singer, Peter. Animal Liberation. New York: HarperCollins. (Chapter 1)

Book Title:This course uses selected readings from writers Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, Arne Naess, Peter Singer and Paul Taylor, as well as Sustainability: A Comprehensive Foundation. All readings are provided via links in the classroom
Book Title:Various resources from the APUS Library & the Open Web are used. Please visit to locate the course eReserve.*

Previous Syllabi

Not current for future courses.