Human Meets Nature: Key Concepts in Environmental Philosophy
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Human Meets Nature: Key Concepts in Environmental Philosophy

Develop your own personal philosophy of nature, understand key environmental issues and make informed lifestyle choices
0.0 (0 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
11 students enrolled
Created by Gary Thomson
Last updated 6/2016
English
Price: $25
30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
Includes:
  • 5.5 hours on-demand video
  • 10 Articles
  • 68 Supplemental Resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • Understand key ideas in environmental philosophy
  • Apply key ideas in environmental philosophy to contemporary environmental issues
  • Use key ideas in environmental philosophy to better understand human / nature relations.
  • Apply ideas about human / nature relationships to make informed lifestyle decisions
View Curriculum
Requirements
  • An interest in understanding the relationship between humans and nature, nothing else!
Description

These are hugely challenging times for the natural environment and as modern humans we’re struggling to understand how we relate to nature. If you're concerned about environmental issues and are interested in insightful ways to think about them, then this is the course for you.

Understand What Nature Means to You

* Learn key ideas about human / nature relationships

* Discover who developed these ideas and why

* Apply these concepts to contemporary environmental issues

* Develop your own personal philosophy of nature

* Make better informed lifestyle decisions 

Explore What the Great Environmental Thinkers Have Said

Each topic in this course provides a unique way to understand our relationship with the natural environment. You'll learn about John Muir's Philosophy of Nature, Deep Ecology, Ecofeminism, Silent Spring, The Land Ethic, Environmental Aesthetics, and Ecophenomenology. 

Armed with key information about each of these you'll be equipped to better understand the threats to the natural environment that we see today.

Compare Ideas about Humans and Nature

A unique feature of this course is exploring all of these topics in one place. This allows you to easily compare ideas, decide what resonates with you most strongly and perhaps inspire a deeper interest in some of these subjects.

This course explores over one hundred years of key ideas in nature philosophy. This whistle-stop tour of environmental thought is presented over five and a half hours in 73 easily digestible lectures. Lectures are between three and ten minutes long and offered as presentation screencasts.

Extensive supplementary texts and links to further resources are provided so you can dive in as far as you wish. You'll also find quizzes and questions for further consideration at the end of each section to help reinforce learning and guide further thinking. The course has been designed to allow you to go as far into these topics as you wish.

Apply These Concepts to your Own Life

But this course is not just a history of grand environmental ideas. Rather it is intended to provide a framework with which you can consider the environmental issues that are impacting your life today. Global warming, species loss, changing weather patterns, soil infertility, shrinking habitat, and ocean acidification are amongst the many challenges that we currently face. It can be difficult to know how to think about these huge issues, to put them into any kind of context. This course helps you better understand these important issues.

Want to know what nature really means to you? Take this course and find out!

Who is the target audience?
  • This course is for anyone interested in contemporary environment concerns and who wishes to understand how ideas in environmental philosophy can be used to frame and understand them. The content of this course is of an academic nature but presented in a light and accessible manner. This course is not for those looking for an academic level course in these ideas, but is rather intended as an introduction to them. That said, the student is given resources which will allow them to go as far into these topics as they wish. Ultimately this course is for those who want to explore and better understand their relationship with the natural world.
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Curriculum For This Course
Expand All 73 Lectures Collapse All 73 Lectures 05:43:28
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Introduction to the Course
5 Lectures 15:47

Welcome to my course and thank you so much for enrolling! Watch this lecture to find out who I am, what this course is broadly about and why I created it.

Preview 03:21

An introduction to the specific topics covered in the course, who the course is intended for, who the course is not intended for, what you will take away from the course and some key facts you should know before starting.

Preview 07:19

10 top tips for getting the most out of this course.

Get the Most from this Course
02:33

Why use the supplementary resources and what you can expect to find there.

Supplementary Resources
02:34

A one page text summary of the lectures in this section.

Summary
00:00
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John Muir's Philosophy of Nature
6 Lectures 29:15

Introductory video lecture to John Muir's Philosophy of Nature.

Introduction to John Muir's Philosophy of Nature
01:21

A short biographical account of John Muir. At the end of this lecture you'll understand who John Muir was and why he is a significant figure in the history of environmental thinking.

Preview 07:13

At the end of this lecture you'll be able to state Muir's key ideas about the relationship between humans and nature, be able to recognize some of Muir's important writings, and be familiar with some of his most well-known statements about the natural world. 

John Muir's Key Ideas about Nature
08:32

At the end of this lecture you'll be able to put together John Muir's ideas about nature to state in general terms what his philosophy of nature was.

John Muir's Philosophy of Nature
05:15

At the end of this lecture students will understand the influence that Muir's work had during his lifetime and continues to have today.

John Muir's Legacy
05:16

A one page text summary of the lectures in this section.

Summary
01:38

Test your knowledge about John Muir and his philosophy of nature. 

John Muir's Philosophy of Nature
10 questions
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Deep Ecology
9 Lectures 33:01

Introductory video lecture to Deep Ecology

Introduction to Deep Ecology
01:43

This lecture introduces Deep Ecology by contrasting it with shallow ecology. By the end of this lecture you'll understand that Deep Ecology is a world view and that it was developed primarily by Arne Naess.

Preview 03:45

A short biographical account of Arne Naess. By the end of this lecture you'll know some key facts about Arne Naess and understand why he was positioned to propose Deep Ecology.

Who was Arne Naess?
05:16

This lectures expands on the deep ecological world view introduced in the first lecture of this section. By the end of this lecture you'll understand that deep ecology proposes a metaphysical world view in which everything is connected to, and defined by, everything else.

The Deep Ecological World View
06:26

This lecture introduces the idea of intrinsic value as a key feature of Deep Ecology. By the end of this lecture you'll be able to give examples of intrinsic values and non-intrinsic values.

Intrinsic Value
02:55

This lectures takes the deep ecological world view and makes it personal by applying it to the individual. By the end of this lecture you'll understand that the ecological self embeds humans within nature rather than being outside of it.

The Ecological Self
04:25

This lecture describes Aldo Leopold's epiphany when he witnessed the an wolf dying and explains that Leopold's reflection on the experience was an example of deep ecological thinking. By the end of this lecture you'll understand deep ecology from a more practical perspective and be able to apply deep ecological thinking to their own experiences with nature.

Thinking like a Mountain
04:17

This lecture extends the idea introduced in the previous one through a brief exploration of the Gaia Hypothesis. At the end of this lecture you'll understand what the Gaia Hypothesis is and how it relates to Deep Ecology.

Gaia: Thinking like a Planet
02:39

This lecture is a one page text summary of the lectures in this section. Students are directed to the supplementary resources if they wish to dive deeper into these ideas.

Summary
01:35

Test your knowledge about Deep Ecology. 

Deep Ecology
10 questions
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The Land Ethic
8 Lectures 33:17

Video introductory lecture to the Land Ethic.

Introduction to the Land Ethic
01:54

A brief introduction to what The Land Ethic is, when it was written, who it was written by and what its broad aims were.

The Land Ethic
02:42

A brief biographical account of Aldo Leopold focusing on why he was ideally qualified to write the Land Ethic. By the end of this lecture you'll be familiar with key information about Aldo Leopold and understand how he came to write the Land Ethic.

Preview 03:57

This lecture introduces Leopold's assertion that we should consider our ethical relationship with the land rather than thinking about it solely in economic terms. It focuses on Leopold's belief that we must consider the land to have intrinsic rather than instrumental value. By the end of this lecture you'll understand that Leopold proposed that conservation should be driven by intrinsic rather than instrumental values.

A Conservation Ethic
06:44

This lecture introduces Leopold's idea of a land mechanism in which all members of the biotic community participate. Also, that Leopold considered the integrity of this mechanism as more important than any one species or ecosystem within in. And finally, that humans are part of this biotic community. By the end of this lecture you'll understand what Leopold meant by a biotic community and why it is important that he included humans within in.

The Biotic Community
04:35

This lecture explores the idea of whether an ethic can be applied to 'wholes' rather than individuals. By the end of this lecture you'll understand what is meant by holistic ethic and be able to produce some examples.

A Holistic Ethic
07:13

An examination of Leopold's famous dictum as presented in the Land Ethic. By the end of this lecture you'll be familiar with the central principle of the Land Ethic.

Key Principle of The Land Ethic
04:07

A one page text summary of the lectures in this section. Students are directed to explore the additional resources for this section.

Summary
02:05

Test your knowledge of the Land Ethic. 

The Land Ethic
10 questions
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Ecofeminism
10 Lectures 51:47

Video introductory lecture to ecofeminism.

Introduction to Ecofeminism
01:32

A broad overview of ecofeminism as introduction to the topic. At the end of this lecture you'll be able to outline what ecofeminism is and how it can be used to explore environmental issues.

Ecofeminism
04:03

An exploration of the paradigm of humanity's attempt to dominate, master and control nature. At the end of this lecture you'll understand why this paradigm emerged and see the importance of it in consideration of contemporary environmental issues.

Preview 07:50

Explores the parallels between the subjugation of woman and the subjugation of nature. At the end of this lecture you'll recognize the significance of patriarchal attitudes in environmental issues.

The Subjugation of Nature
05:28

Exploring the idea that humanity's attempt to dominate nature is consistent with the ideologies of racism and colonialism. At the end of this lecture you'll appreciate that the environmental issues we see today are not isolated events but may be part of a continuing trend of behaviour.

The Theme of Inequality
06:45

We use geoengineering as an example of humanity's attempt to dominate nature. At the end of this lecture you'll understand what geoengineering is and see why it provides an example of the paradigm that ecofeminism cautions against.

Preview 10:42

Explores the importance of including social benefits in any approach to tackling the environmental crisis. At the end of this lecture you'll understand why ecofeminism demands the inclusion of social benefits in any approach to solving environmental problems.

Social Benefits
03:37

Examination of the concept of the generalized other which is key to ecofeminist thinking. At the end of this lecture you'll understand what is meant by the generalized other and why it is important in this discussion.

The Generalized Other
04:04

An exploration of the contrast between feminine qualities of nature and patriarchal attitudes in society. At the end of this lecture you'll understand what is meant by saying that nature is imbued with feminine qualities and recognize that these qualities conflict with the dominant paradigm of human society.

Feminine Qualities of Nature: Mother Earth
06:25

A one page text summary of the lectures in this section. Students are encouraged to use the additional resources provided.

Summary
01:21

Test your knowledge of Ecofeminism. 

Ecofeminism
9 questions
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Silent Spring
10 Lectures 43:23

Video introductory lecture to Silent Spring.

Introduction to Silent Spring
01:36

Broad overview of Silent Spring as way of introduction. At the end of this lecture you'll know some basic information about silent spring and appreciate its importance as an environmental text.

Silent Spring
03:38

A brief biographical account of Rachel Carson. At the end of this lecture you'll have a broad understanding of who Rachel Carson was and what motivated her to write Silent Spring.

Who was Rachel Carson?
05:14

Carson is critical of the use of agricultural chemicals and proposes that they interrupt nature's built-in checks and balances. At the end of this lecture you'll understand why Carson was critical of the use of agricultural chemicals.

Toxifying Nature
04:46

A key theme of Silent Spring is to argue that humans are not separate from nature; whatever we introduce into nature will somehow come back to us. At the end of this lecture you'll understand that Carson is heavily critical of the idea that there is a nature / culture divide.

Preview 04:52

Despite our attempts at the chemical control of nature, nature adapts and fights back. At the end of this lecture you'll be able to give examples of nature fighting back and realize that this is an example of what Carson meant by suggesting we have a flawed approach to nature.

Nature Fights Back
04:36

One of the key themes of Silent Spring is that those who hold institutional power can not necessarily be trusted to do what is right for nature. By the end of this lecture you'll understand Carson's critique of institutional power.

Power Structures
05:43

Silent Spring was intended as a moral call to arms. Carson suggested that personal choices could overwrite society’s wrongs. At the end of this lecture you'll understand that Silent Spring was intended to inspire action and some would argue that it fuelled the environmental movement.

A Call to Arms
04:28

Silent Spring wasn’t just a popular book at its time of writing but has endured to continue to inspire subsequent generations. This lecture explores the legacy of Silent Spring. 

The Legacy of Silent Spring
07:04

A one page text summary of all of the lectures in this section. Students are directed to the supplementary resources if they wish to delve further.

Summary
01:26

Test your knowledge of Silent Spring.

Silent Spring
10 questions
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Environmental Aesthetics
12 Lectures 58:31

Video introductory lecture to environmental aesthetics.

Introduction to Environmental Aesthetics
01:37

A brief exploration of what is meant by aesthetics of the natural environment and why it’s important. By the end of this lecture you'll broadly understand what is meant by environmental aesthetics and have a sense for why it may be an important area of consideration.

Environmental Aesthetics
07:19

An introduction to the historical background that has contributed to contemporary thinking in environmental aesthetics. By the end of this lecture you'll appreciate the major historical trains of thought on environmental aesthetics.

Historical Background
04:36

A comparison of different attitudes towards nature in different parts of the world and how they progressed. By the end of this lecture you'll understand how dominant attitudes towards nature progressed over time in various parts of the world.

Fear and Pleasure
03:34

What does it mean to say nature is beautiful or sublime? This lecture digs into these issues to reveal the role of perception and imagination. By the end of this lecture you'll be able to broadly define beauty and sublimity in relation to nature - and be able to form their own ideas of what these concepts mean to them.

Beauty and Sublimity
06:06

This lecture defines the picturesque and scenic and explores why these values may be problematic. By the end of this lectures you'll understand the problems of using the picturesque and scenic to value nature.

Preview 04:45

An exploration into the multi-sensory appreciation of nature. What does it mean to be immersed in an environment? By the end of this lecture you'll have an appreciation for what it means to experience nature using the multi-senses.

Beyond the Scenic
06:10

Does imagination and emotion have a part to play in our aesthetic appreciation of nature? Do we have to use these tools carefully or can we allow them to have free reign? At the end of this lecture you'll be equipped to form a developed opinion of the role of imagination and emotion in our aesthetic appreciation of nature.

Imagination and Emotion
05:59

Is scientific knowledge necessary for forming an aesthetic appreciation of nature? How? At the end of this lecture you'll be equipped to form a well developed position on the role of scientific knowledge in the aesthetic appreciation of nature.

Scientific Knowledge
05:23

Explores the link between the aesthetic appreciation of nature and ethical attitudes towards it. At the end of this lecture you'll understand how aesthetic appreciation of nature is strongly linked to ethical attitudes towards it.

Aesthetics and Ethics
04:33

So how do we value nature on its own terms? Which framework should we use to value nature? Scientific? Multi-sensory? Objective or subjective? At the end of this lecture you'll have the tools to form your own opinion about how to value nature.

Preview 06:45

A one page text summary of all of the lectures in this section. Students are directed to the supplementary resources to dig further into these topics.

Summary
01:44

Test your knowledge of environmental aesthetics. 

Environmental Aesthetics
10 questions
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Ecophenomenology
13 Lectures 01:19:10

Video Introductory lecture to ecophenomenology.

Introduction to Ecophenomenology
01:30

What is phenomenology and what does it have to do with the natural world? By the end of this lecture you'll be familiar with how concepts from phenomenology can be put to use in considering humanity's relationship with the natural world.

Preview 05:52

A broad overview of Husserl’s Lebenswelt concept and how it might be useful in considering the natural environment. By the end of this lecture you'll understand what the Lebenswelt means and appreciate how it might be used to think about human / nature relationships.

Husserl's Life-World
04:24

A broad overview of what Merleau-Ponty meant by ‘the flesh of the world’ and what distinguishes it from Husserl’s Life-World. At the end of this lecture you'll understand what Merleau-Ponty's concept of Flesh and what makes it different from Husserl's Lebenswelt.

Merleau-Ponty's Flesh
07:46

What is the significance of our corporeal experience? What does embodiment have to do with environmental ethics? At the end of this lecture you'll understand why this is an important line of enquiry into exploring human / nature relationships.

Embodiment
05:21

How do we experience Leopold's biotic community? At the end of this lecture you'll understand how we might take Leopold's biotic community concept one step further.

Experiencing the Biotic Community
08:05

Our bodies make sense only in the context of the Earth environment. We are immediately in perceptual community with the Earth. By the end of this lecture you'll understand what it means to say that we are in perceptual community with the Earth.

The World is Made of the Stuff of the Body
04:23

Community psychology tells us that feeling a ‘sense of community’ engenders certain behaviours towards that community. How does this fit into human / nature relationships? At the end of this lecture you'll understand how the idea of the 'sense of community' is important is engendering ethical attitudes towards nature.

Sense of Community
10:03

Many indigenous cultures live in close ‘community’ with nature; this lectures examines several examples and what they have to teach us about living ethically towards the Earth. At the end of this lecture you'll be familiar with case studies of cultures who live closely with their natural environment.

Preview 14:19

A discussion of the argument that philosophy alone cannot help engender ethical attitudes towards the natural environment. At the end of this lecture you'll be familiar with the argument that philosophical ideas alone are insufficient to change attitudes towards the natural environment.

Beyond Philosophy
04:57

We bring together the threads of the previous lectures in this section to draw a coherent conclusion about how phenomenology can be useful in considering human / nature relationships. At the end of this lecture you'll be able to see how the various threads presented in this section fit together to form a coherent and useful means of considering human / nature relationships.

Wrap Up
05:54

A one page text summary of the lectures in this section. Students are directed to the supplementary resources to dig deeper into these topics.

Summary
02:44

Test your knowledge of Ecophenomenology. 

Ecophenomenology
8 questions

Complete list of the supplementary resources. 

Complete Reading List
03:52
About the Instructor
Gary Thomson
5.0 Average rating
1 Review
15 Students
2 Courses
Mathematician / Nature philosopher

Gary is a Mathematician turned philosopher. Educated in the UK and the US he has a first class honours degree in Pure Mathematics and a Master’s degree in Environmental Philosophy.

Following a successful career in the oil industry Gary engaged his passion for nature and undertook post-graduate research at The University of Edinburgh, working with leading experts in their fields. 

He is particularly interested in the relationship between humans and the rest of nature and loves sharing his knowledge and ideas with others. 

When he’s not philosophizing or teaching Math you’re likely to catch him on a mountain, in a forest or on his yoga mat. 

Learn more on his website or FaceBook page.