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Environmental Philosophy: Addressing Humanity's Most Urgent Challenges

Learn to lead a sustainable lifestyle as you delve into key climate issues and understand how to address environmental challenges.

395 enrolled on this course

Young woman opens her arms, enjoying nature in the mountains of Gran Canaria, Spain.
  • Duration

    6 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

Unpack the concepts of environmental ethics

Environmental issues are often discussed in the media but we rarely take a deep dive into how these issues affect our own lives and how best to make a difference in addressing them.

On this six-week course, you’ll understand how environmental issues can be constructively approached.

You’ll be introduced to environmental ethics and the different theories within it to explore the moral status of human beings and of our environment.

With this knowledge, you’ll engage in social learning to discuss issues and share suggestions for actionable solutions for our planet.

Explore environmental aesthetics and different environmental movements

You’ll delve into different aesthetic concepts to understand the aesthetic value that landscapes and other environmental features have for humanity.

Next, you’ll explore environmental movements, such as ecofeminism, and understand how they can be used to address key issues.

Unpack fast fashion and environmental justice

To gain a deeper understanding of sustainability, you’ll explore your lifestyle and how sustainable it is. Next, you’ll reflect on our responsibilities and obligations to future generations.

You’ll delve further into specific issues, such as fast fashion, to understand its environmental toll and how it impacts humans. With this knowledge, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of environmental justice.

Explore the environmental impacts of meat consumption

Finally, you’ll delve into the issues of meat production and consumption. You’ll explore alternatives to the current system to understand the solutions to reduce the industry’s environmental impacts.

Learning from the experts at the University of Connecticut, you’ll finish the course as a more knowledgeable and proficient steward of our planet.


  • Week 1

    Environmental Ethics

    • Introduction & Course Overview

      Introduction to and overview of this course.

    • Ethics: How should we live?

      Introduction to some important ethical theories.

    • Anthropocentrism and Ecocentricism

      Introduction to the distinction between anthropocentrism and ecocentrism.

    • Wrap-Up

      Wrapping up Week 1.

  • Week 2

    Environmental Aesthetics

    • Week 2 Overview

      Welcome to Week 2: Environmental Aesthetics, introduction and overview of what we’ll learn.

    • Beautiful, Sublime, and Picturesque

      Learn about the concepts of the beautiful, the sublime, and the picturesque, and begin to apply them to the environment around you.

    • Art and the Aesthetic

      On natural objects, aesthetic properties, and works of art.

    • Wrap-Up

      Wrapping up Week 2.

  • Week 3

    Four Environmental Movements

    • Week 3 Overview

      Introduction and overview of what we’ll learn.

    • Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK)

      Our first environmental movement: Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK)

    • The Land Ethic

      Our second environmental movement: The Land Ethic

    • Deep Ecology

      Our third environmental movement: Deep Ecology

    • Ecofeminism

      Our fourth environmental movement: Ecofeminism

    • Wrap-Up

      Wrapping up Week 3.

  • Week 4

    Sustainability and Future Generations

    • Week 4 Overview

      Introduction to Week 4

    • Does What I Do Matter?


    • Obligations to Future Beings?


    • Wrap-up

      Wrapping up Week 4

  • Week 5

    Fast Fashion and Environmental Justice

    • Week 5 Overview

      A Major Environmental Issue: Fast Fashion

    • Fast Fashion’s Human Toll

      In this activity, we will look at the human impact of the fast fashion industry.

    • Environmental Justice

      An introduction to the topic of environmental justice.

    • Wrap-up

      Wrapping up Week 5.

  • Week 6

    Eating Meat: Consequences and Alternatives

    • Week 6 Overview

      Introduction to Week 6

    • Alternatives to the Current System

      Learn about alternatives to the current system of producing and consuming meat.

    • Hunting

      Learn about some ethical dimensions of hunting animals for food.

    • Wrap-Up

      Wrapping up Week 6.

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explain the main features of, and differences among, the three leading ethical theories (deontological, consequentialist, and virtue-ethical theories).
  • Explain the difference between anthropocentric and non-anthropocentric approaches to environmental value.
  • Explain aesthetic concepts regarding the distinction between beauty, the picturesque, and the sublime.
  • Explain the concept of sustainability and how it applies to concrete cases.
  • Show how at least one of the four environmental movements (deep ecology, the land ethic, traditional ecological knowledge, and ecofeminism) would guide solutions to an environmental problem.
  • Discuss a contemporary environmental issue such as fast fashion or vegetarianism/veganism and explain how a change in one's own lifestyle could have an impact on alleviating that problem.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone with an interest in humanity’s interaction with the environment.

It will be most beneficial if you would like to be better equipped to address the pressing issues of our time.

Who will you learn with?

I teach Philosophy at the University of Connecticut, USA. In the coming months, I hope to offer a Future Learn course on Environmental Philosophy.

Who developed the course?

University of Connecticut

The University of Connecticut is a national leader among public research universities, with more than 32,000 students seeking answers to critical questions in classrooms, labs, and the community. A culture of innovation drives this pursuit of knowledge through the University’s network of campuses and through UConn Online.

  • Established

  • Location

    Storrs, Connecticut
  • World ranking

    Top 300Source: ShanghaiRanking Academic Ranking of World Universities 2020

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

Want to know more about learning on FutureLearn? Using FutureLearn

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