Syllabus: Ecology, Economics, and Ethics, ENST30501 | Fall, 2014

Ramapo College
School of Social Science and Human Services
Environmental Studies Program

ENST30501| CRN 40175 | ASB-136| W 6:30-9:45 P.M.
Professor Wayne Hayes, Ph.D. 201-684-7751
Office T-022
Hours: T & W: 4:00 to 5:30 P.M.

Course Prerequisites: CRET102 and either ENST209 or ENSC103.

Related pages: Schedule | Bulletin Board
Page TOC: Rationale, Goals, Resources, Grading, Experiential Learning, Contact

Rationale ^

Novel ethical demands are being created as our world is transformed by economic globalization. Through such practices as high-input agriculture and dependence upon fossil fuels, this transformation has adversely affected both global ecology and human communities. To meet the resulting ethical demands, a new ecological economics is required, one that respects the scale and carrying capacity limits of the earth's ecosystems. This new economic paradigm avoids the confusion that has attended the concept of "sustainable development," which, in creating tension between the developed and less developed nations, has fostered a worldwide debate on the meaning and content of an ethics of sustainability. In contrast, ecological economics strives to lay the foundation for a society and constituent communities that are sustainable economically, environmentally, and socially.

How can the economy be harnessed to serve world sustainability? What makes this question so ironic is that the growth in the physical scale of the economy under the prevailing regime of economic globalization has depleted resources, destroyed ecosystems, overwhelmed natural waste disposal sinks, waged war on subsistence cultures, and produced shocking maldistribution of wealth and income. How, then, can the economy be turned around to reinforce sustainable development rather than to destroy ecosystems, resource endowments, and indigenous cultures? This alchemy must be resolved to promote sustainability.

The now familiar definition of sustainable development from the Brundtland Commission Report (World Commission on Environment and Development) defines sustainable development as: "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." How adequate is this definition? Can the precept adequately define guidelines for policy prescription and ethical principles? Does it ensure justice? Will democracy be nurtured? Has the concept been distorted to serve narrow commercial interests? What economic strategies and practices can promote sustainability?

Ecology, Economics, and Ethics takes up the challenge of working out a critical, ethical, and strategic analysis upon which to base civic action, public policy, and normative legitimacy. The global economy, a robust engine of change, must generate world sustainability rather than amplify entropy through physical growth or indulge corporate interests. The purpose of Ecology, Economics, and Ethics is to provide sustainers an overview of how economics might appropriately and ethically enhance sustainability.

Goals ^

Three goals guide your learning and your work in our course:

  1. You must discover and articulate in writing ways to think practically and strategically about sustainability. Such thinking must be grounded in economics, ecology, and ethics. You will write two papers based on course material that demonstrates your grasp of the intersection of economics and sustainability.

  2. You must manage the implementation of a research project that contributes to our understanding of economics, ecology, and ethics. You will deliver in the forms of a polished research paper and a final class presentation. The research project will include the submission of both a proposal and a preliminary draft.

  3. You must compile an experiential learning log that demonstrates how to promote the practice of economics, ecology, and ethics in your life. This is the Course Enrichment Component of the course.

To achieve these goals, these skills must be attained or refined:

The assignments below aim at demonstrating and assessing the achievement of the course goals and skill refinement.

Grading and Attendance Policy ^

Students are responsible for attending class, for all material covered or assigned, for completing assignments on time, and for participating in class exercises and discussions. Reading assignments should be done before the class for which they are assigned. Students are expected to present their own original thinking for writing assignments and oral presentations.

Grading will be based on the following distribution:

  1. A report on The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard and on my supplementary notes and links counts 16 points. See the definition of this assignment for details.
  2. A proposal of a term research project counts 10 points.
  3. The preliminary draft of your research project counts 16 points.
  4. Your oral presentation of your research project counts 10 points.
  5. The final draft of your research project counts 32 points.
  6. A log demonstrating experiential learning counts 6 points.
  7. Class participation and contribution counts 10 points to your grade.

The due dates are displayed in the course schedule. The fall semester goes by quickly and the writing assignments are substantial. Therefore, late submission of required work will be docked two points off the final grade during the first week tardy and four points for each week thereafter. Indeed, meeting deadlines enforces the discipline of effective writing.

Grades will be rounded off and scaled as follows: A = 93 and above; A- = 90 to 92; B+ = 87 to 89; B = 83 to 86; B- = 80 to 82; C+ = 77 to 79; C = 73 to 76; C- = 70 to 72; D+ = 69 to 67; D = 66 to 60; and F < 60. Notice that there are no in-class exams. Please see the Ramapo College Catalog grading policy. A Pass/Fail grade must be initiated by the student by September 18, 2013, as indicated in the fall 2014 academic calendar.

Attendance, of course, is mandatory. Perfect attendance will be rewarded with a bonus of two points. Missing a single session will be held as neutral. After that, each missed session will lead to a deduction of four points. Missing a significant portion of the class session, such as arriving late or leaving early, will lead to a prorated deduction at the discretion of the professor. Excused absences, counting as half an absence, may be granted for good cause, but may require documentation and should be arranged in advance whenever feasible. Holy days will be respected. College policy states that students must notify faculty within the first three weeks of the semester if they anticipate missing any classes due to religious observance.

Course Resources ^

The following required texts is available in the Ramapo College bookstore: Leonard, Annie: The Story of Stuff: How are Obsession with Stuff is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and a Vision for Change (New York: Free Press, 2010). This widely read book confronts consumption, a topic fundamental to sustainability. Note that I have prepared extensive notes to supplement the book.

Required assignments are linked from the respective dates listed in the on-line course schedule. These online resources are fundamental to the course. The online class schedule displays the timetable of class events. An essential resource in the course Bulletin Board that provides timely announcements and reminders. Additional course materials will be distributed in class.

Course Enrichment Component: Experiential Learning ^

The Course Enrichment Component of Ecology, Economics, and Ethics supports the Ramapo College Mission Statement commitment to experiential learning. The course requires that all students learn how to interpret how economic activity supports or undermines sustainability as reported in the public media. The fulfillment of the experiential learning obligation is explained in a separate memo.

Each student will document this activity through a log that is submitted near the end of the course. The log counts as 6 points toward the final grade. Expect to demonstrate at least five hours of effort, or thirty minutes per week, on this assignment. Do more.

The experiential learning assignment contributes a tangible and documented outcome directed toward the course goal, above, that demonstrates how to promote the practice of economics, ecology, and ethics. You will also explain the outcomes for you of your log in a presentation near the conclusion of the course.

In the spirit of experiential learning, I will devote about ten minutes of class time at the beginning of each session to review current events of the week that pertain to the themes and substance of Ecology, Economics, and Ethics. Be prepared to participate. I will randomly ask for you to report on your recent experiential learning entries. Your responses will be incorporated into the participation grade. You must come to each class prepared.

Writing In Ecology, Economics, and Ethics

Writing will be integrated into the flow of this course. The course assignments indicate a variety of writing projects, including a term research paper. All your writing assignments will include a writing grade and your writing will receive comments aimed at incorporating the suggestions in all future work. The project proposal and the project draft can be resubmitted.

You may seek further assistance during my office hours, listed below, and by e-mail. For help outside the classroom, please work with a writing tutor in the Center for Reading and Writing (CRW), Room: L-211, x7557,

Policy on Academic Integrity and Students With Disabilities

Academic Integrity: Students are expected to read and understand Ramapo College's academic integrity policy, which can be found in the Ramapo College Catalog. Members of the Ramapo College community are expected to be honest and forthright in their academic endeavors. Students who violate this policy will receive a failing grade and will be referred to the Office of the Provost for further disciplinary action.

Students with Disabilities: Students who need course adaptation or accommodations because of a documented disability or related special circumstance should work with the Office of Special Services to appropriately inform the instructor of their needs. Reasonable and appropriate accommodations will be cheerfully arranged.

Office hours, Contact, and Special Needs ^

I will hold office hours in T-022 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 4:00 P.M. to 5:30 P.M. and by appointment. I am generally available for brief consultation immediately before and after class. My office phone, which is equipped with voice mail, is (201) 684-7751. The best way to reach me is through e-mail,

Welcome aboard!

Ecology, Economics, and Ethics Web Site | Page: © Wayne Hayes, Ph.D. | ™ ProfWork |
Initialized: 7/20/2011 | Last Update: 11/19/2014 | V. 4.1, Build #34