Physics Faculty Publications

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2014

Publication Source

Council on Undergraduate Research Quarterly on the Web


Two core courses in the curriculum of the University of Dayton’s Sustainability, Energy, and the Environment minor, Sustainability Research I and II, were developed out of the frustration one author, Daniel Fouke, experienced while teaching a traditional course on environmental ethics for the Department of Philosophy. The often-overwhelming nature of environmental problems tended to demoralize both the instructor and the students. Seeking a way to integrate ethical analysis of complex problems with the search for solutions, two courses were proposed that would be team-taught by a philosopher and a scientist or an engineer.

Development of the courses was initially funded through a course-development fellowship from the college of Arts and Sciences.

The rationale for these courses is the recognition that technical and scientific knowledge cannot, by itself, provide reasons for utilizing that knowledge for ethical purposes. Similarly, ethical reasoning cannot operate in a vacuum. That is, individuals cannot have a duty to do what it is impossible to achieve. The courses facilitate understanding of how science, technology, and ethical analysis have a symbiotic relationship in assessing solutions to environmental problems—knowing our duties toward the natural world requires understanding what science tells us about the nature of environmental problems and then evaluating the strengths and limitations of technological solutions.

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Council of Undergraduate Research

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