PROPOSAL TO THE COLLEGE OF ARTS & SCIENCES
TO ESTABLISH AN INTERDISCIPLINARY MINOR IN ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS
Submitted by the Environmental Ethics Facilitating Committee
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Marquette University is "dedicated to serving God by serving our students and contributing to the advancement of knowledge."(1) Through its academic and co-curricular programs, Marquette "strives to develop men and women who will dedicate their lives to the service of others, actively entering into the struggle for a more just society."(2) Much of Marquette's curriculum has been structured around giving students the skills, knowledge, experience, and ethical orientation they will need to be informed and effective citizens engaged in this struggle.
In recent years, there has been growing recognition that the pursuit of knowledge and the struggle for justice have a wider compass than traditionally understood. Whereas traditional approaches to justice have centered on the relationships among human beings, contemporary thinking also considers the inseparable connections between our species and the natural environment. Recent attention to these connections has fostered improved conditions for people, other biota, and the environments on which all living creatures depend. At the same time, there is evidence of rapid depletion of resources, pollution of air and water, and loss of biodiversity. There is also concern about the distribution of environmental effects on populations of varied economic means. As a community concerned with the pursuit of truth and justice, Marquette University should offer students the intellectual resources for understanding and reflecting on the ethical implications of their own and their communities' thinking and practice regarding environmental matters.
To a certain extent Marquette already does this. The past two decades have witnessed the introduction of a number of classes, taught in various disciplines, that bear on these issues.(3) For nearly a decade, the Interdisciplinary program in Urban & Environmental Affairs has provided an integrative program, one found only at Marquette, for students whose interests span urban and environmental issues.(4) However, a degree program geared expressly toward providing detailed and synoptic knowledge of environmental issues in combination with a systematic focus on their ethical dimensions does not exist at Marquette. Nor does one exist at any other Jesuit college or university in the United States.(5) The proposed minor in environmental ethics will address this lacuna through a program that is highly appropriate to Marquette's Catholic, Jesuit educational mission.(6) The minor will also strengthen Marquette's standing as a school offering options for environmental studies that are unique among U.S. Jesuit colleges and universities.
The proposed interdisciplinary minor in environmental ethics has two fundamental and interrelated goals:
1) To employ multi-disciplinary approaches that will enhance student understanding of environmental issues in their varied yet interrelated features and dimensions; and
2) To prepare students to consider more thoughtfully and to address more effectively the serious ethical questions pertaining to the ecological environment today.
These goals are advanced by five specific student objectives:
a) Students will acquire the basic scientific knowledge needed for a sound understanding of current and projected environmental problems;
b) Students will be introduced to the political and economic contexts in which environmental problems have arisen and will learn which kinds of analyses and strategies the social sciences offer for addressing them effectively;
c) Students will acquire grounding in theological and philosophical traditions and analyses that illumine comprehensive intellectual and spiritual perspectives within which reflection on the ethical implications of the current environmental situation and possible future developments may proceed;
d) Students will learn how literature and the humanities help people understand their relationship to the natural environment and the responsibilities that spring from that relationship; and
e) Students will understand how the various disciplines that address environmental issues complement one another and contribute toward a more comprehensive approach to environmental problems.
The goals and objectives of the minor in environmental ethics make this program most appropriate to Marquette's mission to pursue knowledge and foster justice. Particularly significant is the minor's overall strategy of employing a multi-disciplinary approach to enhance students' understanding of environmental issues so ethical implications can be addressed more effectively. The pursuit of truth in our increasingly complex world will be facilitated by assuring that ethical reflection is well-informed by biology, physics and economics. Moral development will be advanced by the minor's focus on the ethical implications of ecological processes and problems. The desire to serve others in the struggle for justice will be served by addressing environmental problems academically and, when feasible, providing opportunities for student research and service in a local agency, organization or business that deals with environmental issues.
A minor in environmental ethics is appropriate for students in many programs within the College of Arts & Sciences. It may particularly appeal to students majoring in Urban & Environmental Affairs, pre-law studies, Biology, Education, Philosophy, Political Science and Theology, all of which touch at least implicitly on the ethical dimensions of ecological issues and problems. The minor may also attract students in the College of Engineering, particularly those concentrating in Civil and Electrical curricula, because ethical considerations surface either explicitly or implicitly when projects are being planned or revised.(7)
The proposed minor in environmental ethics integrates studies in the fields of ecology, physics, economics, philosophy and theology. Five already established courses and one new course, an interdisciplinary capstone seminar, will be required for the eighteen credit hour minor. Though the five established courses approach environmental issues from different disciplinary perspectives, all six courses will be mindful of the two program goals and substantially advance one or both of these. Each core course will also advance one or more of the aforementioned program objectives in ways that are specified below. The capstone course will aim explicitly to rehearse and integrate student knowledge gained in other course work related to the minor in light of curricular goals and objectives. Following are the six courses required for the proposed minor and the specific goals and objectives advanced by each:
The study of the complex interactions of living organisms with each other and their physical and chemical environment is the focus of this course. The different levels of ecology that are explored include the individual organism, populations, communities and ecosystems. Students are provided a solid background in ecology with an emphasis on scientific principles.
Advances Goal 1 and Objective A
Prerequisites: Biology 001 & 002 or 004 or Consent of Instructor
Economics 163-Environmental & Natural Resource Economics
Students taking this course investigate the link between economic growth and environmental change in the form of damage to nature's capacity to provide ecological services to human beings and to plant and animal species. Answers to many questions are attempted, including: Does economic growth damage the natural environment and if so why? What structural features of the modern market/corporate economy lead to environmental and ecological decline? Is environmental regulation sufficient to address the problem of ecological decline, or do we need to go further and institute a steady-state economy as suggested by Herman Daly? What specific changes in economic institutions are needed to save the natural environment? Definitive answers to all questions may not be forthcoming, but the tools to arrive at well reasoned judgments on these matters will be developed.
Advances Goal 1, 2 and Objectives A, B, E
Prerequisites: Economics 043
Philosophy 132-Environmental Philosophy
Considered in this course are the philosophic bases of ecological theory, including the relationship between human beings and the natural world, and the application of leading ethical and aesthetic theories to environmental issues. Moral and social implications of environmental problems are discussed to provide the context for their philosophical exploration. Encompassed in this exploration are elected issues in value theory, ethics and aesthetics such as the value standing of natural objects and systems, the morality of trade-offs between species, and the ethics of limiting consumption and population. This course is crucial to training students in rational reflection on the ethical dimensions of environmental issues and in contemporary literature pertaining to the theoretical foundations for environmental ethics.
Advances Goals 1, 2 and Objectives C, D, E
Prerequisites: Junior standing, Philosophy 050
Physics 009-Earth & Environmental Physics
This course explores the effects of human population and activities on the environment. Emphasis is placed on energy exchanges, the energy balance of the earth, land and water use, and the water cycle. Effects of chemical and physical pollution on water and the atmosphere and basic principles of ecology are examined.
Advances Goal 1 and Objective A
Theology 171-Foundations for Ecological Ethics
Theological bases for valuing and acting responsibly toward other species, ecosystems and the planet are explored in this core course. Emphasis is placed on evaluating notions found in the Bible, in texts of eminent Christian theologians, and in Catholic social teachings to determine the extent to which they are responsive to the ecological crisis. Promising notions in "the tradition" that were formulated from world views vastly different from our contemporary understanding of the world are reformulated to reflect basic scientific findings and applied to ecological problems. Approaches taken by other major religious traditions to address ecological problems are also examined.
Advances Goal 1, 2 and Objectives C, D, E
Prerequisites: Junior standing, Theology 001, a second level course or Consent of Instructor
ARSC 110-Capstone Seminar in Environmental Ethics
Culminating the minor in environmental ethics, this seminar will provide students with an opportunity to explore the ethical dimensions of at least one bio-regional problem informed by the other core disciplines. Regional sources of information will be sought by the students, experts will be invited to seminar sessions to consult with them, and, if possible and appropriate to the problem investigated, service experiences will be facilitated for students in a church-related or public interest organization, governmental agency or private business that is addressing the problem. Throughout the seminar, collaborative learning will be stressed. Students will be required periodically to report findings from their research, to identify additional areas needing investigation, to reflect as a group on the ethical implications of their findings, and to make decisions about the most promising ethical approach to the problem. The final demonstration of a student's achieving the goals and objectives of the seminar will be a written report on an ethical response to the problem by a team of students or, if deemed more appropriate, an individual student.
This seminar endeavors to build upon content and disciplinary background provided in the other core courses and is best taken after most, if not all, of the core courses are completed. However, since the course will initially be offered only biennially, practicality dictates that some students take the seminar prior to completing all core courses.(8) The program director will take these factors into consideration when granting approval to students to register for the capstone and when designing the specifics of the seminar. Students minoring in environmental ethics and taking the capstone before completing the other required courses for the minor will be identified subsequently to the instructors of those courses who will capitalize upon the students' seminar experiences to achieve the goals and objectives of the minor.
Advances Goals 1, 2 and Objectives A, B, C, D, E
Prerequisites: Junior standing, declared minor in environmental ethics, and completion of three or more core courses
Consent of Instructor/Program Director.
Assuring Availability of Courses
Assuring the availability of these courses is crucial to students so they can complete the minor in about two years. The biology, economics and physics core courses are offered annually. The philosophy and theology courses are presently listed in the undergraduate bulletin as offered only occasionally, though the chairs of the respective departments will seek approval to upgrade the availability of these courses to every other year if the minor is offered by the College.(9) As already indicated, the capstone seminar will be offered every other year. The coordinator of the minor will be in regular communication with the departments offering core courses to assure that they are taught on a timely basis so students are able to complete the minor within a two-year period.(10)
Prerequisites for Biology 040 and Economics 163 also affect access to courses that are integral to the minor. The professors who teach these courses have waived some requirements for majors and minors in Urban & Environmental Affairs, and both are willing to do so for minors in environmental ethics. Moreover, Biology 040 will be listed in pre-registration materials as requiring "consent of instructor," while Economics 163 will require only Economics 043 as a pre-requisite. The effects of granting consent to minors in environmental ethics to take Biology 040 without prerequisites will be among the matters evaluated by students and faculty involved in this program.
The Interdisciplinary Nature of the Minor
Different kinds of competency are needed to understand and address descriptive and normative issues pertaining to the environment. For students to begin to gain these competencies, they need a well-rounded set of introductory courses that help ground ecological understanding and judgment in a cross-disciplinary manner that underscores the contributions made by rigorous study in each of these areas. To that end, studies in physics, biology and economics expose students to the ways in which varied physical and social sciences approach complex ecological realities. As it introduces students to a body of information concerning the natural environment, the minor program grapples with attendant normative and religious questions. Indeed, a unique feature of the proposed minor is the attention it gives to how ecological studies are enhanced and illumined by the academic study of philosophy and theology. Professors who teach the required courses will emphasize links among these disciplinary areas. The minor capstone will provide students with a culminating, focused exercise in cross-disciplinary thinking and dialogue.
Because the proposed program is interdisciplinary and integrated in ways other than a strict course sequence, students may take the core courses in any sequence. A case might be made for encouraging students to take Biology 040/140 as an initial overview of scientific approaches to ecology. Beyond this, students may take courses in an order that best fits their schedules and other disciplinary commitments. The only exception is the minor capstone seminar, which optimally should be taken after or during the semester in which the student completes his or her requirements for the minor.(11)
The curricular coherence of the environmental ethics minor rests primarily in the common focus on ecological and environmental questions in each of the required courses, on the pursuit of common program goals in each of these courses as indicated above, and in the integration afforded through the capstone seminar. To foster this sense of program coherence among students, the program director, in cooperation with faculty members teaching in the core, will identify and maintain regular communication with all declared minors, arrange a minimum of two gatherings for minors during each academic year to which all program faculty will be invited, and keep them abreast of academic and co-curricular opportunities germane to their environmental-ethical interests. The director will provide a letter and certificate to students on the completion of their requirements.
To assure attention to program coherence among faculty, the program director will foster communication and the sharing of curricular information among faculty teaching courses in the minor core, and will hold at least one meeting during each academic year. Program coherence will also be an ongoing concern of a faculty facilitating committee, a group chaired by the program director whose membership will be drawn from among faculty teaching in the core and other members of the university community with environmental expertise or interest.(12) The minor director will also work with students and faculty to underscore elements in core courses that are crucial to environmental ethics minors and to identify other ways to foster a sense of common purpose among those involved in the program.
Throughout the two years that this proposal has been developing, faculty have been energized by the desire to advance a program that Marquette needs but does not have in any other curriculum offering. The proposed minor is distinct in striving to address explicitly the ethical dimensions of environmental issues informed by the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities. The environmental ethics minor is highly structured, requiring six specific courses linked to the goals and objectives of the minor. Consultations between faculty teaching the required courses and students seeking the minor assure appropriate linkages between the courses and the minor. The capstone seminar underscores the intention to integrate the disciplines when addressing a bioregional problem.
Nevertheless, five of the six required courses for the proposed minor are among the many options allowed for the minor in Urban & Environmental Affairs. Consequently, students could apply some of the same courses toward both minors.(13)
While these two minors complement one another and faculty advancing the proposed minor want to avoid competition between the Urban & Environmental Affairs minor, the minor in environmental ethics may be further distinguished by allowing students to apply only three courses used toward a minor in Urban & Environmental Affairs. Furthermore, a letter and certificate of completion of the environmental ethics minor will be given only to those students who demonstrate this difference in courses toward both minors. Finally, ways of underscoring the differences between the two aforementioned minors will be considered and additional options explored annually by faculty and students.
The program director of the environmental ethics minor will be a faculty member from either the Theology or the Philosophy departments, with the directorship held for a two-year term and supported on a rotating basis by the two departments. The duties of the program director are:
a) To oversee and promote the health, effectiveness and coherence of the minor program on behalf of participating students and faculty;
b) To assure that required and optional courses are offered at appropriate times so that most students can complete it within a two-year period;
c) To facilitate the annual evaluation of the program by students and participating faculty;
d) To update descriptions of the minor in the flyer and the Bulletin so they reflect any changes made in response to faculty and student evaluations;
e) To provide advice to students concerning the minor and respond to inquiries from within and outside the university;
f) To arrange and conduct semi-annual meetings of students to assess the minor, share information, and facilitate expressions of interest and concern;
g) To arrange and conduct at least one annual meeting of participating faculty during which matters pertinent to the minor are reviewed, including (1) student and faculty evaluations of the program and courses, (2) availability of print and electronic sources, (3) impediments to offering required courses in a timely fashion, (4) changes needed in the program to keep the minor viable and relevant, (5) strategies for strengthening program coherence and effectiveness, (6) future program development, (7) enrollment in required courses to determine their cost-effectiveness (especially Philosophy 132 and the newly-created Theology 171, to be offered more frequently to accommodate the minor), (8) the impact of offering courses without the normal prerequisites in terms of both the additional faculty effort that might be required and the de facto quality of the class, and (9) the extent of the actual overlapping of courses by students seeking minors in both environmental ethics and Urban & Environmental Affairs and any perceived lessening of the distinctiveness of both minors.
h) To keep count of the number of students taking required courses in order to assess the need for offering additional sections of the courses, offering them more frequently, or offering them less frequently if they are under-subscribed;
i) To stay abreast of current literature to assure its availability through Marquette libraries for student and faculty research;
j) To maintain liaison with other academic institutions that share program interests;
k) To promote and publicize the minor program, as well as the courses offered toward it each semester as part of a continuing marketing strategy; and
l) To thoroughly assess all data gathered on the minor during its fifth year of availability to students and to recommend changes, expansion or elimination to the College.
Fortunately, qualified faculty now teach the five core courses listed above, and all serve on the committee that is promoting the minor.(14) The capstone seminar will require the coordinating services of one faculty member from within the departments of Theology or Philosophy on a rotating basis every two years, and chairs of those departments have committed themselves to this arrangement.(15) The capstone instructor will organize and lead the seminar, enlisting the more limited participation of others teaching in the minor core as guest discussants and/or readers of integrative student papers in their fields.
A commitment from the Theology and Philosophy departments is needed to enable one faculty member to act as director of the minor on a two-year rotational basis and as the instructor of the senior capstone seminar falling within his or her term of service. Those departments also need to recognize the professor's service to the environmental ethics minor as contributive to his/her service to the department and the College. The chairs of Philosophy and Theology have indicated their willingness to make these commitments and anticipate that intra-departmental approval will be secured this Fall.(16)
Print and electronic resources will be sought by faculty teaching the required courses through the usual department channels. Because the nature of the minor is interdisciplinary, faculty will be attuned to needed sources that transcend their own disciplines and seek cost sharing by pertinent departments. All faculty will look for new resources and alert one another to any that appear appropriate to the minor. On behalf of the minor, the director of the minor will pursue the feasibility of funding for sources directly from the library without having to go through department representatives.
Community resources are especially vital for courses that address ecological problems as well as for the capstone seminar on the ethical dimensions of bioregional problems. Resources in the metropolitan Milwaukee area include the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Great Lakes Research Facility, several nature centers (e.g., Riveredge, Schlitz Audubon, Wehr, and Retzer), environmental advocacy organizations (e.g., Citizens for a Better Environment, Greater Milwaukee Toxics Minimization Task Force, Sierra Club, Nature Conservancy, Keep Greater Milwaukee Beautiful, Timber Wolf Preservation Society, Urban Coastal Center, and Waukesha Land Conservancy), and private businesses. Among the many resources available in the Chicago area is the Environmental Protection Agency, with its Environmental Justice Program Office.
A minor program may not have a statistically verifiable impact on student enrollment. However, based on our anecdotal observations of student interest and the results of the recent survey taken of current students, we anticipate that this minor may enhance Marquette's being chosen by some students. Marquette may be the only Catholic institution of higher learning in the Midwest to offer a minor degree in environmental ethics, and publicizing this fact widely may have a positive affect on enrollment.
In the Spring of 2000, a short survey was administered to students in some sections of Theology 001, Philosophy 050, and Physics 009 to determine interest in an interdisciplinary minor in environmental ethics. Of the 618 students surveyed, an encouraging 20.9% indicated interest in a minor ranging from "some interest" to "strong interest."(17) Fourteen students voluntarily wrote that they would have been very interested in the minor if offered to them in a more timely fashion. Their statements were not counted in the survey results. Additional surveys among students may stimulate interest in the program as it nears the implementation stage.
If, as hoped, the minor program receives the approval of the College during the Fall of 2000, Mellon funds have been procured to sponsor an event to be held in Spring 2001 to announce and promote the minor. Students for an Environmentally Active Campus has expressed interest in helping in any way, and many creative and exciting ideas are surfacing.
Because the minor draws primarily upon and enhances already existing resources, its budget requirements are relatively small. Among these are committed support by the Philosophy and Theology departments on a two-year rotational basis for managing the minor (including clerical, copying and printing costs of promotional and other materials) and teaching of the capstone course by faculty.(18) The sponsoring department will consider the time dedicated to managing the minor among the intra-departmental assignments expected of all full-time faculty. Because the capstone seminar will be offered for upper-level credit by the department in which the minor is housed, this seminar will count as one of the courses taught by faculty within their normal course teaching load.
However, additional budget items may be necessary if the minor draws significant numbers of students to the required courses. If the capstone seminar is oversubscribed and needs to be taught annually, an additional $2500 would be needed on an annual basis to hire someone to teach another upper-level course in the Philosophy or Theology departments on a rotational basis. Though Biology 040/140, Physics 009 and Economics 163 have had space available in the past and may be expected to absorb additional students minoring in environmental ethics, and though upper division theology and philosophy courses seldom have space available, heavy demand for Philosophy 132 and Theology 171 may cost an additional $2500 annually to hire someone to teach other upper-level courses in those departments.(19) In order to determine the need for this budget item, the number of students enrolled in the courses required for the minor will have to be monitored to see how many are actually seeking the minor.
Another aspect of the proposed minor to be monitored for budget estimation purposes is the number of students taking the capstone seminar. If under-subscribed, the capstone may not be cost-effective. Though exact figures are not available to estimate how many students should be enrolled in a seminar to make it cost-effective, the Dean has encouraged the enrollment of twelve to fifteen students.(20)
If the minor attracts sufficient students to require a budget item of $2500 to teach another theology or philosophy course annually and if the capstone is oversubscribed and needs to be offered annually, a total of $5000 may be needed annually to support the minor. Factoring this or another amount into the budget is among the issues to be determined by faculty involved in executing and evaluating the proposed environmental ethics program.
After intensive deliberation, the facilitating committee concludes that an environmental ethics minor would provide Marquette students with an option that is needed and desired. Except for the culminating capstone seminar, all requisite resources are in place, including enthusiastic and committed faculty who will strive to make the minor viable and a student group that is dedicated to promoting the minor.
History of the Environmental Ethics Initiative at Marquette
Fall 1994 - First Philosophy course in environmental ethics offered at Marquette under Philosophy 132--Environmental Philosophy.
Fall 1996 - First Theology course in environmental ethics offered at Marquette under Theology 149--Contemporary Moral Problems: Theocentric Foundations for Environmental Ethics.
May 1998 - Rev. Albert Fritsch, S.J., Visiting Professor of Philosophy and Campus Environmental Assessment Consultant to Marquette recommended the establishment of an environmental ethics program.
November 1998 - Mellon Grant to Drs. Christine Hinze and Jame Schaefer to investigate an optimal design of an environmental ethics minor through contacts with other Catholic colleges and universities at a conference sponsored by the University of Portland and the United States Catholic Conference and to organize a meeting of faculty from other pertinent departments to share findings and discuss options.
May 1999 - Meeting of Drs. Christine Hinze/Theology, James Maki/Biology, Kevin Gibson/Philosophy, and Jame Schaefer/Theology with Dr. John Pustejovsky to report on findings by Maki and Schaefer at the Portland conference and to learn the various steps the College requires for establishing a minor.
August 1999 - Letter of invitation to heads of departments in the various colleges that offer courses pertaining to the natural environment to identify faculty interested in attending a meeting aimed at planning to establish an environmental ethics minor at Marquette.
September 1999 - Interdisciplinary faculty meeting to report findings on the Portland Conference and to map out a plan for advancing a minor in environmental ethics for Fall 2001; departments represented were Biology by Dr. James Maki, Economics by Dr. Douglas Booth, English by Dr. Milton Bates, Philosophy by Drs. Kevin Gibson and Owen Goldin, Physics by Dr. Kenneth Mendelson, Political Science by Dr. John McAdams, and Theology by Drs. Christine Hinze and Jame Schaefer.
October 1999 - Theology Department proposes and College of Arts & Sciences approves Theology 171--Foundations for Ecological Ethics.
November 1999 - Interdisciplinary faculty committee meeting on components of an environmental ethics minor proposal, major decisions that would have to be made, and volunteers to complete requisite tasks.
January 2000 - Second Mellon grant to Drs. Hinze and Schaefer to advance a proposal for an interdisciplinary minor in environmental ethics, including the identification of parts of the proposal that each faculty member would write and conducting a workshop during which the proposal would be finalized and plans would be made for passing the proposal through the various steps of the approval process, the best possible ways to discern interest among students, and ideas for a Spring event to promote the minor.
February 2000 - Interdisciplinary faculty committee meeting to overview the composite of the various parts of the proposal submitted by faculty (draft #1), to recognize additional parts needed, and to identify actions and letters requisite at the various department levels to assure the integrity of the proposal. Faculty members affirmed the desire to have a student serve on the committee and decided to ask Students for an Environmentally Active Campus (SEAC) to identify a representative.
March 2000 - Interdisciplinary faculty committee meeting to review draft #2, identify further needs, and plan workshop for May. April 2000 - Survey of students in Theology 001, Philosophy 050, and Physics 009 to determine interest in a minor in environmental ethics.
May 2000 - Interdisciplinary faculty workshop at which decisions were made on the various aspects of the minor outlined in draft #3, reports given on the steps the departments have taken and those yet to be taken to advance the minor, an announcement made on the additional review of the proposal by the College's curriculum review committee, and ideas were shared for a Spring event to promote the minor. June 2000 - Submission of draft proposal (#4) to the Curriculum Development and Assessment Committee of the College of Arts & Sciences for input.
August 2000 -- Final proposal submitted to the Curriculum Development and Assessment Committee for approval and advancement to the Board of Undergraduate Studies.
Distinctiveness of the Proposed Minor in Relation to Urban & Environmental Affairs
Throughout its deliberations over the past year and a half, faculty members have been alert to the need for distinguishing the proposed minor from the one offered under the exemplary program in Urban & Environmental Affairs. The coordinator of that program has served as a member of the environmental ethics committee and has facilitated thinking that underscores the differences between the two minors while recognizing their complementarity. Faculty have also entertained the possibility of incorporating both minors into a full environmental studies program at Marquette sometime in the future, if warranted by student interest and other key courses become available (e.g., environmental policy).
Several differences between the minors in environmental ethics and Urban & Environmental Affairs are discernable. Whereas the latter is geared toward the city, the proposed minor in environmental ethics is not limited to any one political, geographic or economic situation as faculty strive for student understanding of what ecology, economics, physics, philosophy and theology contribute to addressing environmental problems. Whereas the Urban & Environmental Affairs minor may include the ethical dimensions of environmental matters pertaining to the city depending on the courses the student chooses to take, the proposed minor focuses explicitly on the ethical dimensions of environmental concerns. Whereas the Urban & Environmental Affairs minor allows for considerable student flexibility in choosing seven courses, the proposed minor requires six specific courses within which links to the environmental ethics minor are made and consultations are held during the semester among faculty teaching required courses and students to assure that linkages between the course and the minor's goals and objectives are made in class and research assignments. Whereas the Urban & Environmental Affairs minor requires students to take ARSC 120, The Environment and the City, which focuses on issues that specifically affect municipalities from scientific, ethical and economic perspectives, the proposed minor culminates in a capstone that integrates the skills and findings of the natural and social sciences to address a selected bioregional problem from various ethical perspectives.
Though these two minors are discernibly distinct and provide students with different focuses, an enterprising and perceptive student could select some of the courses required for an environmental ethics minor and apply them toward a minor in Urban & Environmental Affairs. Efforts to further distinguish them may be necessary. One approach is to add to the proposed minor another appropriate course not allowed under Urban & Environmental Affairs, though the only one identifiable at this point is Anthropology 110, but this would mean expanding the minor to 21 hours because this or another course could not be substituted for any one of the five required courses. Another approach is to limit the number of courses that a student can use for both minors, which might mean choosing between the two.
Members of the environmental ethics facilitating committee agree that the proposed minor is distinguishable from the Urban & Environmental Affairs minor for all the aforementioned reasons, but we recognize the need to evaluate the proposed minor annually to assure its distinction. To further underscore the distinctiveness of the proposed minor at the outset, it may be advisable to restrict the proposed minor to those students who overlap no more than three courses that are applied toward the Urban & Environmental Affairs minor and to give a certificate of completion only to those who demonstrate this difference.
Programs in Environmental Ethics at Other Jesuit Colleges and Universities
In Spring 2000, a survey of Jesuit colleges and universities was initiated to identify where other degrees in environmental ethics are offered and the nature of those degrees. Sixteen institutions responded (Canisius, Creighton, Detroit Mercy, Fairfield, Fordham, Georgetown, Loyola-Chicago Lakeshore, Loyola-New Orleans, St. Joseph's, Saint Louis, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Seattle, Spring Hill, Wheeling, and Xavier-Ohio) while the web pages of the other thirteen were consulted (Boston, Holy Cross, John Carroll, LeMoyne, Loyola-Maryland, Loyola-Marymount, Regis, Rockhurst, Saint Peter's, Scranton, and Xavier-New Orleans) and information is still being sought from one (Gonzaga). Copies of the fax responses and web surveys are attached along with supportive information from some of the institutions.
The results of this survey indicate that many Jesuit schools offer majors and minors in environmental or ecological science or studies. Several offer courses in environmental ethics, environmental philosophy, and theology and ecology. However, not one offers a major, minor or certificate in environmental or ecological ethics. The most extensive program among Jesuit institutions is provided by Seattle University through its interdisciplinary major and minor in Ecological Studies.
Outside the Jesuit domain, only the Holy Cross Fathers' University of Portland offers a program that focuses explicitly on environmental ethics--a major in Environmental Policy and Ethics. The Augustinians' Villanova University offers a Certificate in Applied Ethics with a concentration in The Natural Environment.
Meeting Objectives of The Society of Jesus, Pope John Paul II, and the US Catholic Bishops
The program objectives for an environmental ethics minor are eminently appropriate for Marquette as a Jesuit university. Establishing this degree program would signal a commitment to dedicate resources to a moral issue that has been a growing concern to the Society of Jesus since 1983. As indicated in "We Live in a Broken World -- Reflections on Ecology," (April 1999 issue of Promotio Justitiae 70),
The environmental ethics minor is also appropriate for Marquette as a Catholic university within the Archdiocese of Southeastern Wisconsin whose bishop participates in the United States Catholic Conference. In the USCC's 1991 statement, "Renewing the Earth," the Catholic bishops urged dedication of scholarly resources to the ecological crisis and called upon theologians, scripture scholars and ethicists "to help explore, deepen, and advance the insights of our Catholic tradition and its relation to the environment and other religious perspectives on these matters" (5B). The bishops also urged "Catholic scholars to explore the relationship between this tradition's emphasis upon the dignity of the human person and our responsibility to care for all of God's creation" (5B). Thus, the proposed degree program would be responsive to the bishops.
So, too, would the environmental ethics program demonstrate Marquette's shared concern with Pope John Paul II. In "The Ecological Crisis: A Common Responsibility," the Pope's 1990 Message on the World Day of Peace (Vatican City State, 1989), the ecological crisis is characterized as "a moral problem" to which responses must be made at all levels. An education in "ecological responsibility" is especially "urgent," he writes, and he specifies that in-depth education is needed to explore "responsibility for oneself, for others, and for the earth"(#13). The Pope's designation of this year as the Jubilee Year dedicated to seeking justice for all provides yet another reason for Marquette to establish an environmental ethics degree program through which the cardinal virtue of "justice" can be explored in local to global contexts.
While emphasis in this proposal is placed on the Catholic character of Marquette University, the ecumenical value must not be overlooked if we are to serve our diverse student population. Other religious denominations have expressed concern about ecological degradation and have called for study and application (e.g., the Evangelical Environmental Network, the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, the Eco-Justice Working Group of the National Council of Churches of Christ, and individual denominations including American Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Evangelical Lutheran). A program in environmental ethics provides an opportunity to consider other religious statements on the ecological crisis and, if feasible, to collaborate with local congregations by providing research and service opportunities for students enrolled in the degree program.
Breakdown of Student Interest Survey
The following survey was administered to students in Philosophy 050, Theology 001 and Physics 009 in April 2000. On the other side are the tabulations of their responses. Request copy of survey from Dr. Schaefer.
Supportive Letters from Department Chairs
Request copies of letters from Dr. Schaefer.
Possible Course Schedules for Students
First Year Minor Offered
Fall 2001: Biology 040/140 and Philosophy 132
Spring 2001: Economics 163 and Physics 009
Second Year Minor Offered
Fall 2002: Theology 171 and Biology 040/140
Spring 2003: Minor Capstone(21) and Physics 009
Third Year Minor Offered
Fall 2003: Philosophy 132 and Biology 040/140
Spring 2004: Economics 163 and Physics 009
Fourth Year Minor Offered
Fall 2004: Theology 171 and Biology 040/140
Spring 2005: Physics 009 and Minor Capstone (22)
Faculty and Student Members of the Environmental Ethics Minor Facilitating Committee
Dr. James Maki, Associate Professor of Biology
Dr. Douglas Booth, Professor of Economics and Program Director of Urban & Environmental Affairs
Dr. Milton Bates, Professor of English
Dr. Owen Goldin, Associate Professor of Philosophy
Dr. Kenneth Mendelson, Professor of Physics
Dr. John McAdams, Associate Professor of Political Science
Dr. Christine Hinze, Associate Professor of Theology
Dr. Jame Schaefer, Visiting Assistant Professor of Theology
Adrienne Backstrom, President, Students for an Environmentally Active Campus
Go to new Interdisciplinary Minor in Environmental Ethics page.