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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Environmental Ethics

The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics explores ethical issues in the environment.

What is Environmental Ethics?

The Green Bronco Video Series created by the 2017-18 Environmental Ethics Fellows: Andrea Filler, Nick Redfield, and Vanessa Shin.

Environmental ethics applies moral thinking to the natural world and the relationship between humans and the earth. Moral reasoning is not a substitute for science, but it provides a powerful complement to scientific knowledge about the earth. Science does not teach us to care. Scientific knowledge does not, by itself, provide reasons for environmental protection. Science and economics provide data, information, knowledge. Environmental ethics turns to this information and asks: how then, should we live?

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Short Course in Environmental Ethics

This short course introduces the key features of environment ethics for an audience without a background in ethics. It is written specifically to help students - from high school to adult learners -- to recognize and use moral language to describe how they value the earth.

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Student Fellowship Opportunities

The Fellowship in Environmental Ethics is awarded to outstanding Santa Clara University undergraduates to support a project that examines the ethical implications of an environmental topic.

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Environmental Fellowship Project Highlights
A fleet of planes trailing aerosols.

Is climate engineering a viable and ethical solution to slowing climate change?

The SPICE project will investigate the feasibility of one so-called geoengineering technique: the idea of simulating natural processes that release small particles into the stratosphere, which then reflect a few percent of incoming solar radiation, with the effect of cooling the Earth with relative speed. Hughhunt, CC BY-SA 3.0

Perspective on technical and ethical questions that arise from exploring and using stratospheric aerosol injection to mitigate climate change.

Close-up of a plant growing. Photo credits: Aiokr Chen/Unsplash

Shivani Dharanipragada ’25 learned about technological innovations in geoengineering and explored their ethical and legal implications.

The Colorado River leading up to a dam. Photo Credits: Silvia Fang/Unsplash.

In water rights discussions, there is an ethical responsibility to include Indigenous people in both conversations and legislation decisions.

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Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Investing

The high performance of socially responsible stocks during the pandemic clearly demonstrates the long-term potential of ESG investment and could signal a turning point for investors to transition their strategies to take a longer-term and ethically guided approach to their investments. This piece by 2020-21 Environmental Ethics Fellow Mary Kleinsmith explores the implications of this trend.

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Teaching Module on Pope Francis' Encyclical

This module provides selections from the encyclical Laudato Si', with background, specific discussion questions, and key points for classroom dialogue. The module is designed to be used in a single 50 to 60 minute class period, or a shorter period over several days.

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Navigate here to Environmental Articles

Articles from fellows and staff about environmental issues including sustainability, climate change, environmental justice, and more.

Image of library shelves filled with books overlaid with the word 'Resources'.
Navigate here to Environmental Resources

More resources from the Ethics Center, including content on natural resource use, nuclear waste disposal, and more.

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Navigate here to Environmental Videos

Explore topics about environment ethics in-depth through videos contributed by previous Environmental Ethics Fellows.

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Navigate here to Carbon Footprint Calculator

With this Bronco-based calculator inspired by British Petroleum, we'd like the SCU community to see the impact of their everyday actions.