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:3/14/2016)... March 14, 2016 NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" ... commerce market, announces the airing of a new series of ... week of March 21 st .  The commercials will air ... popular Squawk on the Street show. --> NXTD ... growing mobile commerce market, announces the airing of a new ...
(Date:3/10/2016)... 2016   Unisys Corporation (NYSE: UIS ) ... (CBP) is testing its biometric identity solution at the Otay ... to help identify certain non-U.S. citizens leaving the country. ... to help determine the efficiency and accuracy of using biometric ... will run until May 2016. --> the ...
(Date:3/3/2016)... 2016  FlexTech, a SEMI Strategic Association Partner, awarded ... & Development, Leadership in Education, and, in a category ... th year of the FLEXI Awards and the ... from past years . Judging was done on ... of criteria, by a panel of non-affiliated, independent, industry ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/29/2016)... , ... April 29, 2016 , ... ... personalized pain medicine, is excited to announce the launch of the Proove ... health studies, volunteerism, and education to promote the use of personalized medicine for ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... , April 29, 2016 ... by Transparency Market Research "Separation Systems for Commercial ... Growth, Trends, and Forecast 2015 - 2023", the ... at US$ 10,665.5 Mn in 2014 and is ... from 2015 to 2023 to reach US$ 19,227.8 ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... ... April 29, 2016 , ... Summit for Stem Cell has received a ... a patient-specific stem cell therapy for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. The Summit research ... at The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, CA. , The aim ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... 2016 Elekta is pleased to ... its industry-leading treatment planning software, is available for clinical ... version 5.11 provides significant performance speed enhancements ... up to four times faster than in previous versions ... gold standard Monte Carlo algorithm, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: