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					             PHIL-073/ ENVS-073: Climate Change and Global Justice
                   CWiC Critical Speaking Seminar, Fall 2009

       Russell Lee, 1903-, photographer. Scrap and salvage depot, Butte, Mont. 1942 Oct.

Course and Contact Information

Monday/ Wednesday, 2-3:30
Meyerson, B2

Anna Cremaldi
Office hours: 10-12 Tuesday, Weigle Information Commons/ also by appointment.

Course Description

        This course explores themes in consumer culture and climate change. The central
argument we examine in the course is the claim that American consumer culture is
detrimental to environmental health and that Americans ought, therefore, to consume less
or pay the full price for consuming as much as we do. Consumption is not typically taken
up in philosophy classes. But it has everything to do with seminal philosophical

questions: How should we live? What material circumstances are required for a good
life? Our inquiry will take us into a wide range of topics. These include: green
consumerism, recycling, e-waste (see picture above), culture jamming and planned
obsolesence. As the reader might gather, these are topics that bring us to the edge of
philosophy and to the beginning of popular culture. During the final portion of the
course, we will consider climate change. Our inquiry will be especially charged in light
of the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. We will attempt to
understand various positions on the international agreement regarding climate change,
some of which require that developed countries like the US cut back or compensate for
their high consumption rates.
        As a CWiC course, this class is designed to help you improve as a public speaker.
You should use the course as an arena in which to explore your strengths and weaknesses
as a communicator, as an advocate or critic of a position, and as a place in which to try
new approaches to speaking in public. To those ends, you will work with a CWiC
advisor; we will frequently discuss topics related to public speaking; and all of the class
assignments will involve public speaking in some capacity. Previous experience in
public speaking and/or philosophy courses is not required.

Course Objectives

      To become well-informed about the ethical dimensions of consumer culture and
       climate change.
      To improve communication skills including, for example, one‟s ability to listen,
       to present ideas, and to critique other ideas constructively.
      To enhance the ability to make cogent and compelling arguments to real, live
      To arrive at well-informed and intellectually complex understanding of issues
       (even if it only complicates one‟s ability to make an argument for the view!).
      To identify controversial questions in readings and to reconstruct debates
       surrounding those questions.
      To design a rhetorically effective defense of a position.

Course Requirements and Grading

Participation (25%): the participation grade reflects class attendance and participation
and meetings with CWiC advisors. I will be taking attendance every day, and failure to
attend class will negatively impact your grade. Please notify me at least a day in advance
if you plan to be late for class. Being prepared for class requires that you will have
completed the assigned readings, that you actively listen to your peers, and that you
participate in discussions. We will discuss the expectations and ground rules regarding
participation in more detail in one of our early classes.

**Finally, during the course of the semester, you must meet with a CWiC advisor at least
twice outside of class. These meetings should be scheduled in advance of and in
preparation for any speaking assignments. During the meeting, your presentation will be
recorded, and you will watch and discuss the presentation with the advisor. You are

responsible for scheduling the meeting. Note that meetings cannot be scheduled without
48 hours of advance notice. One of the meetings must be scheduled in preparation for the
final project. The other should be scheduled in preparation for the Oct. 22 speech.

Assignments (55%): During the course, students will complete five speaking-related
assignments. Each counts for 10% of the student‟s grade, with the exception of the
debate, which counts for 15% of the grade.

      Sept. 22: Presentation. You will present and discuss images of your choosing.
       These images will illustrate accounts of aesthetic value that we will encounter in
       the readings from the first section of class.
      Oct. 8: Debate. You will engage in a debate on the benefits and drawbacks of
       consumer culture.
      Oct. 22: Speech. You will make a speech about personal virtue and the
      Oct. 13-Nov. 3: Discussion Leader. You will lead the class discussion of one of
       our readings.
      Nov. 19-Dec.1: Panel Presentation. Student groups will give a presentation on one
       proposal for an international agreement on climate change.

** Some of these assignments will require peer review – i.e. a process in which you will
constructively critique your peer‟s performance. Your completion of the peer review will
be reflected in your grade. Details on peer review and the way it will be used in each
assignment will be discussed in more detail in class prior to each assignment.

Final Project (20%): the final project is a YouTube video in which students will make a
speech on behalf on one proposal for an international agreement on climate change to a
sizeable audience. The speech will be recorded and posted on YouTube. The readings in
the final third of the class and a panel presentation (described above) will prepare
students to compose this speech. You must meet with your CWiC advisor to prepare for
this presentation.

CWiC Contact Information

The CWiC Speaking Center is in the Weigle Information Commons in Van Pelt Library,
Room 129. However, our class has its very own CWiC advisor. To schedule meetings
with your advisor, use the online scheduler on the left side of the CWiC home page
(under „schedule a session‟). Note that the CWiC advisor is not a TA for the course. Just
as a writing tutor advises on writing and not the content of one‟s paper, the CWiC advisor
is trained to advise on issues related to public speaking, but not on course content.

For more information about CWiC and other affiliate courses, see:


All course readings are on Blackboard:


   1 Please come to class prepared and on time. Inform me at least a day in advance if
     you plan to be late.
   2 Late assignments will not be accepted. Extensions will be granted for extenuating
     circumstances. Contact me at least a week in advance for an extension.
   3 Computers are permitted in class for discussion of the articles and for notetaking.
     DO NOT use your computers to surf the web or IM during class. You will be
     marked as absent for the class if you do this.
   4 Cell phone use is not permitted during class. „Use‟ includes text-messaging. You
     will be marked as absent for the class if you do this.
   5 I will not be Facebook friends with any students until the course has been
   6 Expect responses to email no sooner than 24 hours after the email is sent.
   7 For the final grade, no incompletes will be given unless student has a documented
     family or personal emergency and has already substantially and satisfactorily
     completed the coursework.
   8 Plagiarism is a serious violation. If you plagiarize, you will receive an “F” for
     this course.
   9 Adhere to the Penn Code of Academic Integrity:
   10 Feel free to express confusion or ignorance about any point. After all, this is
      precisely the act that Socrates took to be the first step towards wisdom!

                                    Schedule of Assignments
                                      (subject to change)

Sept. 10        Introduction to the course

Aesthetics and the Natural Environment

Sept. 15        Henry David Thoreau, “Walking”
                Allen Carlson, “Aesthetic Appreciation of the Natural Environment”

Sept. 17        Stan Godlovitch, “Icebreaker: Environmentalism and Natural Aesthetics.”
                In-class activity: we will watch and discuss a speech on environmental values.

Sept. 22        Aesthetics presentations. Instructions to follow on Monday, Sept. 15.


In this section of the course, we will consider consumer culture (i.e. high-consumption lifestyle).
Developing countries like China, India and Brazil are poised to adopt more aspects of consumer
culture in the near future. But should or can we all seek this lifestyle? It may be the case that,
though consumer culture is part of the good life, it is inconsistent with the demands of

Sept. 24        Consumer culture

                In class discussion: what factors do you take into consideration when buying an
                IPod or other electronic devices for personal entertainment? For example, do
                you consider: sound, convenience, or style?
                Video: Annie Leonard, The Story of Stuff
                Short lecture: the spread of consumer culture to developing nations,
                carrying capacity, sustainability, carbon footprint

Sept. 29        Arguments against consumer culture

                John Kenneth Galbraith, The Affluent Society, selections. “The Imperative of
                Consumer Demand; “Dependence Effect.”
                Juliet Schor, “New Politics of Consumption,” Do Americans Shop Too Much?
                Mark Sagoff, “Do We Consume Too Much?”

Oct. 6          Arguments in favor of consumer culture

                Colin Campbell, “Consuming Goods and the Good of Consuming,” Critical
                Review 8 (Fall 1994), 503-520.
                James Twitchell, Two Cheers for Capitalism, Wilson Quarterly Spring 1999.
                James Twitchell, “The Stone Age.” Do Americans Shop Too Much? Ed. Juliet
                Schor, 44-48.

               Michael Schudson, “Delectable Materialism: Second Thoughts on Consumer
               Culture,” (1998).

Oct. 8         Consumer culture debate

Technology, Values and Lifestyle

Suppose that a change in consumption patterns in the US is needed. What form ought this change
to take? Some argue that a change of values and lifestyle is needed. Others claim that only
government regulation and the development of technology can change consumption patterns.
Still others act as if we can continue to consume in the same way, so long as we “buy green”
(green consumerism).

Oct. 13        Government regulation and technology

               Field trip: PECO Green Roof. In lieu of the Oct. 13th class, we will visit the
               PECO Green Roof on 23rd and Market. Date and time for visit to be scheduled
               with students during the first or second class.

               A green roof is a roof covered with a layer of vegetation. At approximately one
               acre, PECO‟s green roof is the largest in the Philadelphia area and is a good
               example of the kind of innovative technology solutions to problems associated
               with global warming.

               Preparation: Steven Peck and Jordan Richie, “Green Roofs and the Urban Heat
               Island Effect”

Oct. 15        Government regulation and technology

          Michael Specter, “Big Foot,” New Yorker Feb. 25, 2008
          Thomas Friedman, Hot, Flat and Crowded, selections.
          Review of cap and trade and US economic policy on climate change

          Both Specter and Friedman argue that the only effective way to address global
          warming is through government regulation and technology. What arguments
          does each provide?

Oct. 22   Lifestyle and Values

          Dale Jamieson, “Ethics and Public Policy”
          Michael Pollan, “Why Bother?” NYTimes.
          In class-activity: we will view and discuss a speech on global warming.

          Both Jamieson and Pollan argue that government regulation and technology
          provide an insufficient response to global warming. What arguments does each

          Assignment: prepare a short speech in which you argue for or against the
          sufficiency of policy responses to global warming. Do not forget to schedule a
          meeting with your CWiC advisor in preparation for this speech.

Oct. 27   Lifestyle and Values

          Field trip: Blue Mountain Recycling Facility. Date and time for visit to be
          scheduled with students during the first or second class.

          Many of us recycle, but perhaps we do not really know why we recycle.
          Recycling raises a host of criticisms and questions: Does it really help the
          environment? Perhaps it even harms the environment! Why should I recycle if it
          makes such a small contribution to a huge problem? Am I recycling simply to
          feel good about myself? As part of our effort to tackle these questions, we will
          visit the Blue Mountain Recycling Facility, which is less than a mile from Cohen

          The following readings also address criticisms of recycling:
          Frank Ackerman, Why Do We Recycle: Markets, Values and Public Policy 8
          (1997), selections.
          John Tierney, “Recycling is Garbage” NYTimes Magazine, June 30 1996
          Richard Dennison and John Ruston, “Anti-Recycling Myths: Commentary on
          „Recycling is Garbage‟,” Environmental Defense Fund, July 18, 1996. See

          Optional: Kris Hardin, “Symbols” Sacred Trust, ed. Michael Katchin, 1993,
          selections. Hardin addresses the claim that we recycle to feel better about
          ourselves, but that recycling has little more than a symbolic value.

Oct. 29   Anti-consumerism

          Some people believe that we should consume less – indeed, that we have a moral

                obligation to consume less. This line of argument has a long history. We will
                start with a selection from Roman physician of the 2nd century, Galen, and work
                our way up to the present day expression to anti-consumerism.

                Galen, Affections and Errors of the Soul, selections
                Thoreau, Walden, selections
                As part of your homework, peruse the Adbusters website. In class, we will
                experiment with some “culture jamming.”

Nov. 3          Green consumerism and planned obsolesence

                Many people have high hopes for the green consumer movement. Its guiding
                idea is: we do not need to buy less as much as we need to buy smarter and
                greener. E.g. Change your lightbulbs. Bring non-disposal bags to the grocery
                store. Can green consumerism really be an important solution to our global
                warming problems?

                Alex Williams, “Buying Into the Green Movement,”
                NYTimes July1, 2007. Williams recounts several arguments in favor of and
                against green consumerism. What are the arguments?

                In class, we will focus on one worry about green consumerism: what if so-called
                green products are made to break or be replaced (planned and perceived
                Start by looking at the following: (1) Apple‟s website:
       (2) IPod Touch environmental report.
                Make note of at least one fact from each that you found surprising or interesting.
                How do this website and the product description make you feel about Apple‟s
                commitment to the environment? Does it seem like Apple cares about the

                Next read and watch the following:
                Made to Break, ch. 9 “Cell Phones and E-waste,” 261-281. What do you think
                about Apple‟s commitment to the environment now? Does planned obsolescence
                compromise the “greenness” of Apple‟s products?
                Neistat Brothers, IPods Dirty Secret:

                In class, we will discuss our conclusions, and we will watch the following:
                YouTube video: Steve Jobs and the IPod on SNL
                Frontline: e-waste special

Climate Change and Global Justice

Carbon dioxide emissions are reponsible, in large part, for global warming. The US has 5% of the
world‟s population, but it yields 30% of the world‟s CO2 emissions. Is it fair for us to contribute
so much to the world‟s stock of CO2 emissions? Global warming has serious consequences for
the world‟s inhabitants; but it will effect the world‟s poor most of all. This means that the people
least responsible for causing global warming will bear the most serious consequences of global
warming. Is that fair? In this section of the course, we will study two topics. First, we will
attempt to discover how the world‟s poor are being affected by global warming.

Second, we will consider proposals for an international agreement on climate change. Proposals
have the following four basic plans. These are: (1) the “grandfather” plan: countries agree to
return to emissions levels in a certain year (e.g. 1990); (2) the green growth plan: countries
continue to pursue a strategy of maximum economic development, but commit to green
development; (3) historical responsibility plan: countries most responsible for causing global
warming are made responsible for fixing global warming; (4) equal shares plan: a per capita
allotment of emissions is allowed to each person in the world, and every country gets a
corresponding allowance of emissions.

Nov. 5         OPEN. Probably should be a class introducing the final project and on the
               making of a YouTube video.

Nov. 10        The Effect of Climate Change

               Roberts, T., Parks, B. 2006. “Globalization, Vulnerability to Climate
               Change, and Perceived Injustice” in Society and Natural Resources. 19:4, 337-

Nov. 12        The Effect of Climate Change

               Global Humanitarian Forum: Human Impact Report, Climate Change, 2009.

               This is a long document. It is not necessary to read every word. However, do
               find out: Why do the authors claim that it is difficult to gather information on the
               effects of climate change? Keep notes on the information that is compelling and
               interesting. You may need to come back to this information in the final project.

Nov. 17        The Effect of Climate Change: Future Generations

               Suppose we have some moral obligations to help people suffering today from
               climate change. But many scholars believe that the principal effects of climate
               change will be felt by future generations.

               Literature that examines the proposed effects of climate change on future
               generations. Probably an excerpt from the IPCCC‟s latest report.

               Page, E. 2006. Climate Change, Justice and Future Generations.
               Cheltendham: Edward Elgar, 132 ff. Page, E. 2007. “Fairness on the Day After
               Tomorrow: Justice, Reciprocity and Global Climate Change.” Political Studies

               Edward Page asks: how do the claims of future generations affect the decisions
               we make about climate change today? What is his answer?

Nov. 19        Equal Shares Plan

               The equal shares plan gives countries emissions allowances that are based on a
               per capita allotment of CO2 emissions. Peter Singer argues for an equal shares
               plan. How would his plan work? What are its strengths and drawbacks, and how
               does Singer address the plan‟s drawbacks?

          Peter Singer, One World: the ethics of globalization, ch. 1.
          Malik Amin Aslam, “Equal Per Capita Entitlements: A Key to Global
          Participation on Climate Change?” World Resources Institute 2002

Nov. 24   Historical Responsibility Plan

          The historical responsibility plan requires that the countries responsible for
          global warming are correspondingly responsible for its mitigation. As such, the
          historical responsibility plan is based on the familiar principle, „you broke it, you
          fix it.‟ While that principle rings true in some cases, is it the right one to apply to
          climate change?

          Rovere et al. “The Brazilian Proposal on Relative Responsibility for Global
          Warming.” World Resources Institute 2002

          Bear in mind that Singer also addresses the historical responsibility plan. Why
          did he object to it?

Nov. 26   Thanksgiving Break!

Dec. 1    Green Growth Plan and the Grandfather Plan

          When President Bush rejected the Kyoto Protocol, he argued that instead of
          adopting a grandfather plan (which would require that the US attempt to return to
          1990 levels of CO2 emissions), the US ought to pursue a strategy of green
          growth. That is, it should continue to pursue economic development at a
          maximum pace, but that it should attempt, in the meantime, to make growth as
          sustainable as possible.

          Steve Vanderheiden, Atmospheric Justice, ch. 1

Dec. 3    Project work.
          NOTE: remember to schedule meetings with your CWiC advisor!

Dec. 8    Project work
          NOTE: the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference begins on Dec. 6

Dec. 10   Project presentations


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