ENVR 2150 Wilderness Ethics: Projects for Environmental Field Programs (3 credits)   Approved for Area 9 of Lib. Ed.


Course Objectives: 


Explore major schools of thought on the meaning of wilderness, its importance to modern society and implications for responsible citizenship.  Compare and contrast notions of wilderness and wilderness ethics advanced by major authors such as Roderick Nash, Aldo Leopold, J. Baird Callicott, and others.  Use these ideas to conduct a critical analysis of wilderness policy in the United States and recommend revisions to the Wilderness Act.  Learn how concepts of sustainability relate to issues of protecting wilderness areas and the benefits provided to society.  Engage in experiential learning by visiting key areas that meet certain criteria for wilderness and relate these experiences to personal values, including ethical behavior in “wilderness” settings.  Consider wilderness ethics as a special case of ethics in general.  


Course Outline and Readings:  Pre-trip research on wilderness concepts through readings and values clarification exercises.  Summarize key readings on the meaning of wilderness.  Integrate major themes of readings such as: where humans are visitors, minimal impact, “leave no trace” and the lack of mechanized devices and other human artifacts.  Distinguish arguments in readings about wildlands versus wilderness.  Relate readings to indigenous views such as (1) nature as a way of life versus dominant culture’s pursuit of recreation and (2) a sense of place in nature as “home” rather than “wilderness.”   Assess the importance of wilderness to a healthy society.  Required readings include classic works by Roderick Nash, Aldo Leopold, J. Baird Callicott, and others.  Most required readings are listed below among works available on the Web.   Sections of “Season of the Loon” by David Adams will also provide a modern critique of wilderness notions as applied to wild areas of northern Minnesota.  Recommend entire book, for background on wilderness Ethics.  Chs. 1, 8, & 10-15 (pages 9-14, 70-82,88-193 ) required and should inform your 5-7 page paper.  


Additional readings are available in the program readers for both the Hawaii Field Program and the Northwoods Boundary Waters Field Program.  


Course Assignments:  Present ideas to class on the meaning of wilderness and the importance to society.  Integrate ideas after the program is completed on wilderness values, experiences and hands-on learning about wilderness protection through personal behaviors and policies to manage human impacts.  Summaries of key readings outlined above and in agreement with lead instructor for field program.  At least three one-page summaries of selected wilderness readings are required. After field program is completed submit roughly 5-7 page paper integrating main themes on wilderness and critiquing approaches for sustaining wilderness for the future.   Place ideas in the broader context of sustainability as an ethic for intergenerational equity. 


This subject is studied in the broader context of BSU’s Environmental Field Programs in Hawaii or the Boundary Waters.  Learning objectives shared by both of these field programs are as follows:



Course Objectives: 

Ž     to investigate issues critical to the preservation of ecosystems

Ž     to learn methods for assessing habitats and threats to aquatic or marine environments

Ž     to survey the role of the environment/wilderness in regional thought and culture

Ž     to study the habitats and ecological needs of wild species that are endangered or vulnerable

Ž     to conduct field evaluation of natural resource management planning options

Ž     to gain field experience in observation, data collection techniques, identification, sampling, classification, and the organization of data

Ž     to experience cultural sites in a sensitive manner

Ž     to understand the unique human history in the Hawaiian Islands (Northern MN & BW CA)



Web Readings on Wilderness


“Spirit of Wildness” by Laura Waterman, article in Int’l. Journal of Wilderness, Aug. ‘03



A Professor’s Passion: Wilderness & the Ethic Behind It



Thinking Like A Mountain, Description of a Wilderness Education Program



Ideas for Ethical Management of Canadian Wilderness



Statement of Ethical Principles for Eco-Tourism



“Grounded Conception of Wilderness & More Wilderness on the Ground”

http://iupjournals.org/ethics/ee6-1.html (Type in this address, rather than active link.)


Urban Wilderness & 13 Principles of Wilderness



J. Baird Callicott’s Presentation on Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic



Dale McCullough’s Presentation on Leopold



Essay on Env. Ethics and Wilderness Trends