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Environmental Ethics in our Time: Philosophy and Challenges

Tuition fee


EARLY BIRD prices valid until 28.2.2018
NORMAL prices after 28.2.2018

Expenses for Special Courses
Air Quality in China 190,00 EUR to be paid together with the course fee
Managing Sustainable Forest Landscapes 190,00 EUR, paid in cash during the course

More information 



This course is an introduction to environmental ethics as a philosophical discipline helpful to analysing environmental case studies. It aims to raise awareness about the fundamental and ethical role of the natural environment in our lives. The theoretical part of the course introduces philosophical ethical theories and concepts, while a more practical section presents real case studies and ethical notions from different viewpoints.

Why is ethics important in the modern world and why should ethics be part of policy-making processes? In an attempt to answer such questions, this course will discuss ethical concepts – such as intrinsic and instrumental value, anthropocentrism, ecocentrism, and concern for future generations – together with different types of Environmental Ethics theories – including Deep Ecology, Utilitarianism, Gaia Theory, Aristotelian Virtue Ethics, Deontological Ethics, Ecofeminism, Land Ethics and Animal Rights.

The applicability of different ethical theories will be tested in light of selected case studies about natural disasters and environmental accidents, such as the North Dakota oil pipeline construction (2016–2017) near Indigenous lands; hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as “fracking” in the United States; the unfair polluting policy of TEXACO (now Chevron) in the Ecuadorian Amazon; the Water Wars in Bolivia, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico; the incredibly rich natural environment and the indigenous populations of the Barents Region; and many others.

Concepts such as scientific and aesthetics appreciation of natural environments from the field of Environmental Aesthetics will be also presented in class.

Learning objectives

This course attempts to give students the analytical apparatus to critically analyse the role played by the natural environment in the life of humans and other living species. The course familiarises the students with basic concepts and theories of Environmental Ethics, fostering an understanding on how human factors weigh and carry responsibility for environmental problems.

The students will be trained to see different perspectives, to apply moral theories and draw ethical conclusions from real-life cases in recent news. This enables the students to confront their views in class debates, to better understand themselves, classmates and future work colleagues as citizens of the same world. The course is also designed to train the students’ skills in discussions, argumentation, group work and presentations.

Course format and teaching methods

Lectures, in-class group work, screening of scenes from documentary movies and discussions will take place during the class. Small group tasks (in class and at home) are designed to acquaint the students with ethical concepts and theories, and to train them to apply those theories to natural disasters and environmental case studies.

Target students

This course is designed for students who are interested in environmental and ethical issues. It is recommended for undergraduate students of philosophy, social sciences, sociology, environmental studies, politics and economics. Students from other disciplines are also welcomed. Previous studies in Philosophy and/or Ethics are helpful but are not required.


Corinna Casi, corinna.casi (at)
You may contact the course coordinator with questions concerning the course content.

With any other questions concerning Helsinki Summer Schoool or the application process, please contact

Apply now! Summer 2019
Application start
Dec 1, 2018
May 31, 2019 23:59
Europe/Helsinki time

If you need a visa, please apply 31st of May the latest.

Application deadline
Jul 20, 2019 23:59
Europe/Helsinki time

NB! The application deadline is June 26th, 2018. However the students of the University of Helsinki may apply until July 20th, 2018.

Studies commence
Aug 7, 2019

Application deadlines apply to citizens of: United States