PHIL W10 Concepts of Nature. An examination of how nature is conceptualized by various thinkers, how their different pictures of the natural world shape responses to environmental issues, and the way that nature functions in Christian reflections on humans and their place in the world. The various readings in the course (Thoreau, contemporary environmental writers, Wirzba) will be supplemented with an extensive experiential component, including a week at Waltman Lake Lodge, with students encouraged to take an electronic ‘Sabbath’ for a week and spend extensive time out of doors. The class will also include a three day winter backpacking trip to experience the challenges of living without some of the basic provisions of modern life during the winter months. This trip will either be held on the Manistee River Trail or will be held at Wilderness State Park in one of the hike-in cabins; in the latter case students will either ski or snowshoe into the cabin with their supplies in backpacks. Basic equipment for the trip (tents, sleeping bags, stoves) will be provided. Students will be responsible for any specialized clothing (boots, snow pants) needed for the trip, and need to be capable of a reasonable level of physical exertion. Fee: $275. R. Groenhout. 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
PHIL W11 Moral Issues in Film. This course focuses on moral concepts such as moral duty, moral responsibility, supererogation, collective responsibility, and moral expectation. About eight motion pictures will be shown illustrating these moral concepts. These concepts will also be examined in the context of the Christian life. Learning objectives include knowledge of these moral concepts and the ability to analyze and identify their presence in the plots of motion pictures and, by extension, how they function in the lives of human moral agents. One previous course in Philosophy is recommended but not required. G. Mellema. 8:30 a.m. to noon.
PHIL W12 Peaceable Kingdom. Though stewardship of the animal kingdom is one of the primary responsibilities accorded to human beings in the Christian creation narrative, the question of how best to respect the creatures under our care is one that Christians too often neglect to ask. This omission is unfortunate, given the mounting evidence of fallenness in the social and commercial practices that presently govern our relationships to animals. While large-scale animal farming has increased consumer convenience, this convenience comes at a cost, and not just to animals. Our current food system is also proving to have negative, if unintended, consequences for the environment, local and global commerce and agriculture in both rural and urban communities, and public health. In view of these considerations, the purpose of this course is two-fold: first, to gain insight into the problem through a survey of the theological, moral, environmental, and socio-economic issues surrounding the treatment of animals and the allocation of natural and human resources by our current food system and other industries that use animals; and second, to take the initial steps toward becoming agents of renewal by discerning an array of concrete approaches to addressing these problems (e.g., legislating for less intensive, more sustainable food systems, community supported agriculture, cooking and eating lower on the food chain, exploring “locavorism,” vegetarianism and veganism, animal compassion advocacy, etc.). M. Halteman. 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.