From: The Center for Ethics
Published May 5, 2009 10:10 AM

Fire, Restoration, and Wilderness in an age of Climate Change

MISSOULA, MT - UM announces it 4th annual Environmental Ethics Institute, focusing on fire, restoration, and wilderness in an age of climate change. The institute will run from June 8-13 in Missoula, MT, with a three-week online portion beforehand.

NOTICE: Registration deadline is May 14. See below for contact details.

The six-day course will serve as a foundation to discussion of key issues in environmental ethics with a focus on contemporary environmental moral and political theories, as well as the general use of philosophical methods in broader environmental questions. We will read and discuss a variety of philosophical debates which have evolved over the past thirty years (primarily in Europe and North America) among philosophers answering the call to develop a new, environmental, ethic. Topics to be covered include individual versus collective approaches to moral consideration of the environment; varieties of approaches to the challenge of articulating a non-instrumental value to nature, and the question of whether environmental ethics should embrace some form of moral pluralism. We will next consider how some of these approaches fare in the context of environmental policies on fire, restoration of degraded environments, and wilderness preservation. We will turn finally, to the question of how these challenges will be addressed in the age of climate change.

The institute will be co-taught by Andrew Light and Christopher Preston. Light is a Senior Fellow at American Progress specializing in climate, energy, and science policy. He is also director of the Center for Global Ethics at George Mason University.

Light is an internationally recognized expert on the relationship between environmental policy and ethics, specializing in restoration ecology, urban ecology, and climate change. He also comments frequently on the ethical and social impacts of new and emerging technologies, such as nanotechnology and synthetic biology. He has authored, co-authored, and edited 17 books including: Environmental Values (2008); Philosophy and Design (2008); Controlling Technology (2005); Environmental Ethics (2003); Moral and Political Reasoning in Environmental Practice (2003); Technology and the Good Life? (2000); and Environmental Pragmatism (1996). Light is also co-editor of the journal Ethics, Place, and Environment.

Christopher Preston, is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at The University of Montana as well as a Fellow of the Center for Ethics. Among his publications are Saving Creation: Nature and Faith in the Life of Holmes Rolston, III (San Antonio: Trinity University Press, 2009), Grounding Knowledge: Environmental Philosophy, Epistemology, and Place (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2003) and Nature, Value, Duty: Life on Earth with Holmes Rolston, III, Co-Edited with Wayne Ouderkirk, (Springer 2007). Dr. Preston has worked many summers outside of his academic environment in the fishing, park, and conservation industries in Alaska, giving him a fairly unique hands-on perspective relative to other philosophers.

The institute will also feature three field trips to gain on-site knowledge of the issues discussed in the course. Guides on these field trips will include Dr. Steve Running, chapter lead author on the 2007 Nobel Prize Winning IPCC report on climate change and Dr. Robin Saha, coauthor of the influential 2007 “Toxic Waste and Race at 20 (1987-2007)” report.

The Center for Ethics has positioned itself on the cutting edge of environmental thought, hosting three previous Environmental Ethics Institutes (EEI) with courses and lectures offered by, among others, Holmes Rolston III, Yuriko Saito, Andrew Light, Ben Minteer, and Paul Thompson.  The Center also recently completed a two year, NSF-funded program that brought graduate students from around the country to UM to explore ethics in climate change, nanotechnology, and biotechnology with leading experts in these fields.

Past institutes have attracted professionals in a wide variety of fields, from resource conservation to journalism, along with students and professors at many levels of education ranging from mature undergraduates and graduate students to mid and late-career professors. The workshop is open to students, faculty, and interested professionals of all kinds. However, the workshop is particularly suitable for educators who are seeking a grounding in the foundations of environmental ethics and its most pressing challenges today. See for more information.

Contact Info: Justin Whitaker
Administrative Officer
The Center for Ethics
Tel : 406-243-6605
E-mail :

Website : The Center for Ethics

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