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Title:Sustainable development: Toward an understanding of the ethical foundations of environmental education
Author(s):Li, Huey-li
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Page, Ralph C.
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Environmental Sciences
Education, Philosophy of
Abstract:Recently, sustainable development has emerged as a popular agenda in developing environmental education. In this study, I analyze the concepts of intergenerational equality, global economic justice, and the unity of humans and nature, which signify the convergence of rhetoric and ethics in the discourse of sustainable development.
Specifically, I examine the conception of moral reciprocity in the framework of social contract theory. I argue that the contract is a moral metaphor intended to stress the importance of moral impartiality as well as human sympathy. It follows that the idea of reciprocal advantages contained in social contract theory is not exclusively related to the pursuit of self-interest and the indeterminacy and contingency of remote future generations cannot justify present generations' moral indifference to the pursuit of intergenerational equality.
I point out that while a recognition of global interdependence is central in addressing today's ecological problems, it is essential to foster an awareness of cultural pluralism in examining the ideological roots of development which led to the continuous polarization between developed and developing nations. Accordingly, the pursuit of global economic justice lies within an effort to integrate development education, multicultural education, global education, and environmental education.
Furthermore, I examine the Confucian conception of the unity of humans and nature which coincides with a strong this-worldly orientation and might induce the pursuit of economic growth over ecological balance. I argue that the Confucian emphasis on moral cultivation and societal perfectibility may sanction the transformation of the natural environment. Thus, an organic world-view should not be represented as a panacea for all of the world's ecological problems. An effort to explore the educational implications of the unity of human and nature must reckon with the ideological complexity of various religious traditions at the global level.
Finally, I conclude that environmental ethics cannot be separated from inter-human ethics. As school education has a significant impact on the cultivation of our moral character, it is important to recognize and respect students as moral agents in the context of environmental education.
Issue Date:1995
Rights Information:Copyright 1995 Li, Huey-li
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9543650
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9543650

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