Should Environmental Ethics Be a College Pre-requisite?


When we begin our college careers, we must all complete a general education requirement (on top of a list of core and elective courses specific to our majors). Included in this gamut would be such things as lower and upper division writing, a natural science, U.S. history, philosophy, and sometimes even a “speech” course. What is not required, however, is anything remotely related to the natural environment and human activity. It is generally accepted that a college student should know who was president during the Civil War, but it appears contrary to our conventional system to place an emphasis on what effects CO2 emissions has on the polar bear.

Creating environmental awareness does not have to mean forgoing the structure of higher education. You would be hard-pressed to find an intellectual who denounces reading Shakespeare in “English 101,” no matter how dated his language gets. In our digital era, we can easily find value in observing solar flares in “Astronomy,” because we have progressed as a society through the byways of science. Yet understanding the environment to be one holistic system should take precedence; scientists say this knowledge is an absolute necessity for our survival. As ecologist Garrett Hardin recognizes in his article, The Tragedy of the Commons, “Education can counteract the natural tendency to do the wrong thing (1968, 29). If we are serious about sustainability, curbing global warming, offsetting mass extinction, then we should expect our entry-level working class to be knowledgeable about the environment. This is not to say we should jump up the ladder to one extreme and cut those subjects some feel are “useless,” such as the arts (drama, music, ceramics), even if they may be a little less practical than computer science these days. It is imperative we attune college requirements to current and future environmental problems.

Here is something to think about: high school and college students are not required to take an environmental ethics course, and yet we are smothered in countless environmentally focused TV shows and movies (e.g. Whale Wars, Battleground Earth, The 11th Hour, An Inconvenient Truth, Who Killed the Electric Car?). We are a nation that strongly values education. Although controversial, this is evident in our use of IQ tests as a tool of assessment in various settings. The argument remains, however, if we prize academic excellence (particularly the sciences) because it represents progress, then we should do the same for the study of environmental degradation caused by human behavior. Concerns for our wildlife, increasing water demands, and air-quality are clearly growing. Given the nearly unanimous agreement among publishing scientists, it can be certain that our ecosystems are hotly demanding that we teach current and future generations the fragility of the planet. In his book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded, Thomas L. Friedman warns that our country’s future depends on alternative energy “innovations” in “physics, chemistry, thermodynamics, nanotechnology, and biology” (2008, 243).

Upcoming innovators must be educated on the state of the environment if they are likely to come up with creative solutions. What can be said about our higher education system if it does not address our most fundamental problems? Environmental degradation is threatening our way of life, but we can expect a “greener” future through the introduction of an environmental ethics requirement in our colleges.

Written by Hannah Valez. Accredited University Degrees Online Interactive Advertising

Environmental science

Environmental Science
This full-color, introductory environmental science text is known for being concise, conceptual, and value-priced. The approach an…
Environmental Science
Environmental Science: A Global Concern is a comprehensive presentation of environmental science for non-science majors which emph…
Environmental Science (Quickstudy: Academic)
All the sciences are interrelated, as our 3-panel (6-page) guide will reinforce by showing the relationship between human beings, …
Environmental Science
ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE inspires and equips students to make a difference for the world. Featuring sustainability as their central t…
Environmental Science
This full-color, introductory environmental science text is known for being concise, conceptual, and value-priced. The approach an…

Environmental science

Environmental science

Related Articles:

Published at: Science News Articleshttp://sciencenewsarticles.org

Article Source