Department of Philosophy, Oregon State University.  Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. Michigan State University. USDA Forest Service. Forest Sciences Lab/Department of Forest Science, Oregon State University  Department of Philosophy. Oregon State University
Workshop presented at the 7th Biennial Conference on University Education in Natural Resources.
“Examine each question in terms of what is ethically and aesthetically right, as well as what is economically expedient” Aldo Leopold advised; we must turn to “individual ethics as the basis of conservation policy.” But how should we reason about what is right or good or beautiful? How can we make reliable moral judgments and think critically about the moral arguments that ground decisions about natural resource use? How can we communicate moral convictions and encourage the development of the “ecological conscience” that is the foundation of the land ethic? These are the skills of moral reasoning that will be essential to the next generation of environmental leaders—the next Aldo Leopolds who might now sit in our classrooms. In this workshop, the presenters share their experience and ideas for bringing the skills of moral reasoning to students in natural resource classes, and invite participants to tell of their own strategies and experiences. With quick demonstrations, abundant hand-outs, stories, small group work, and a closing round-table discussion, the workshop will make the case for the importance of ethics education in natural resources curricula and offer ideas for how to provide it. These include a unit on critical thinking in moral reasoning based on arguments about hunting of wolves, from a fisheries and wildlife seminar; materials for an introduction to the structure of moral argument; a syllabus for a short field-course on the philosophy of nature, using literature to explore the ecological conscience; information about Long-term Ecological Reflections, a program that uses creative writing to explore ideas about what is ethically and aesthetically right; and a proposal for an environmental humanities curriculum. The workshop especially invites those who have already found useful ways to bring ethics education into the natural resources curriculum to share their experiences and materials.