360°: China and the Environment

This 360 cluster, comprised of courses in philosophy, history (East Asian Studies), and economics, will look at the many environmental problems and issues that beset our contemporary world. We will explore the environment from the perspective of several disciplines: philosophy (both "Western" and "Eastern"), economics, history, politics, and natural science. Our readings, class discussion, and student research will bring these different disciplinary perspectives to bear on specific environmental questions. Experts in the science, economics, and politics of these questions will come to campus and visit the classes. The cluster will concentrate particularly (but not exclusively) on the environmental problems of China and study how China is dealing with them. Students and faculty will travel to China (tentatively March 8-22) to experience the environmental problems first hand and to meet with leading experts on these issues, both researchers and officials.

China and the Environment Courses:

East Asian Studies 352: China's Environment

This seminar, taught by Yonglin Jiang, explores China's environmental issues from a historical perspective. It begins by considering a range of analytical approaches, and then explores three general periods in China's environmental history: imperial times, Mao's socialist experiments during the first thirty years of the People's Republic, and the post-Mao reforms.

Economics 234: Environmental Economics

The aim of this course, taught by Michael Rock, is to use the tools of economic analysis to analyze the relationship between economic development in the rapidly developing economies of East Asia and environmental outcomes there. Among the issues to be considered are: (1) What's necessary to make economic growth in these developing countries environmentally sustainable? (2) What are the most serious environmental issues in these developing countries and how can the tools of economic analysis be used to address those issues? The course will move back and forth between economic theory and the actual experiences of developing countries in East Asia, including China.

Philosophy 240: Environmental Ethics

Taught by Robert Dostal. This course examines various understandings, both "Western" and "Eastern," of the human in relation to the environment and the biosphere. We will examine the major justifications for the ethical positions on the environment in the "Western" tradition. It will look at rights-based, justice-based, and utilitarian views. It will also consider Confucian, Taoist, and Buddhist approaches to nature and the environment. Various approaches such as stewardship, intrinsic value, land ethic, deep ecology, and ecofeminism will be explored. Questions concerning our obligations to nonhumans, to future generations, and the the biosphere will be considered.