Navigation Links
Ethical issues ignored in teaching, research of sustainability
Date:7/1/2010

Just about everyone agrees that sustainability cutting energy use, reducing carbon emissions and, in general, keeping the Earth green is a good thing. But why do we think that? Do we support sustainability for the right reasons?

These are among the questions that Michigan State University's Michael Nelson addresses in a paper published this month in the journal Bioscience titled "Sustainability: Virtuous or Vulgar?"

Specifically, Nelson and co-author John Vucetich of Michigan Technological University argue that the issue of ethics is a vital component in the teaching and research of sustainability, but one that is sorely lacking.

"This debate," they write, "has almost entirely neglected a fundamental dimension of sustainability the ethical dimension. Lack of attention to the ethical dimension of sustainability is stifling progress toward sustainability."

Or, as Nelson puts it: "If we don't know where we're going, we won't know when we get there."

Nelson said that from the educational perspective, it's important that all aspects of sustainability are covered.

"Everything we do sends messages to our students," he said. "We see our students as people who will go out and do important things in this world. It's important how we nurture that."

The ultimate question, the authors say, is this: "Do we care about ecosystem health because ecosystems are intrinsically valuable, or do we care about ecosystem health because it serves human interests?"

While a question such as this is difficult to answer, Nelson said that "we are unlikely to achieve sustainability without knowing what it means."

In their paper, Nelson and Vucetich consider the most widely appreciated definitions of sustainability, which indicate at least roughly that sustainability is "meeting human needs in a socially just manner without depriving ecosystems of their health."

While the definition seems quite specific, it could mean anything from "exploit as much as desired without infringing on the future ability to exploit as much as desired" to "exploit as little as necessary to maintain a meaningful life."

"From a single definition rises two wildly disparate views of a sustainable world," said Vucetich. "Handling these disparate views is the inescapable ethical crisis of sustainability."

"The crisis results from not knowing what we mean by value-laden terms like 'ecosystem health' and 'human needs,'" Nelson said. "In other words, is ecosystem health defined by its ability to meet human needs only, or does ecosystem health define the limits of human need?"


'/>"/>

Contact: Tom Oswald
tom.oswald@ur.msu.edu
517-281-7129
Michigan State University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. NHGRI funds new Centers for Excellence in Ethical, Legal and Social Implications Research
2. Alternative food networks connect ethical producers and consumers and can lead to healthier eating
3. Reprogramming the debate: stem-cell finding alters ethical controversy
4. Synthetic Biology: funders move to address social and ethical challenges
5. Human embryonic stem cells developed from 4-cell embryo; world first may lessen ethical concerns
6. Human Microbiome Project awards funds for technology development, data analysis and ethical research
7. Dolphin cognitive abilities raise ethical questions, says Emory neuroscientist
8. AMP commends SACGHS whole genome sequencing focus, raises ethical questions and forms working group
9. Chloroplast f and m Thioredoxins Discovered in Nonphotosynthetic Tissues
10. 200 journals join in theme issues on poverty and human development
11. Knocking out cell receptor may help block fat deposits in tissues, prevent weight gain
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/2/2017)... Feb. 1, 2017  Central to its deep ... advances worldwide, The Japan Prize Foundation today announced ... have pushed the envelope in their respective fields ... Three scientists are being recognized with the 2017 ... not only contribute to the advancement of science ...
(Date:1/26/2017)... -- Crossmatch, a leading provider of security and identity management ... fraud, waste and abuse in assistance operations around the ... Disaster Relief conference in Panama City ... foreign assistance organizations throughout Latin America ... largely unacknowledged problem in the foreign assistance and disaster ...
(Date:1/24/2017)... Jan. 24, 2017  It sounds simple and ... that monitors vital signs and alerts parents on ... oxygen saturation level drops. But pediatric experts argue ... parents, with no evidence of medical benefits, especially ... marketed aggressively to parents of healthy babies, promising ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/23/2017)... , Feb. 23, 2017 /PRNewswire/ - The Fight ... for Cancer Research (OICR) are pleased to report that ... A financing, with Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, ... include venture groups HealthCap, TPG Biotechnology Partners, and Genesys ... ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... -- Seattle,s upscale Capitol Hill neighborhood, with its swanky shops, parks and ... lice treatment salon to set up shop. But there,s ... French bistro on E Madison Ave, and CEO Maria ... lice clinic, we pride ourselves on being a destination for ... the stigma associated with lice. Everyone can get lice – ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... ... February 23, 2017 , ... ... in a published evaluation of multiple immunoassay-based threat detection technologies by researchers ... Laboratory, PathSensors’ CANARY® biosensor threat detection technology was found to have the ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... NC (PRWEB) , ... February 23, 2017 , ... ... to announce a new partnership with Compass Research . GGI's mission is to ... a vaccine to a child in need in honor of each clinical trial volunteer. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: