Home » Resources for Educators » Resources » Syllabi » Here

Radical Environmentalism (Kaza)

Course Title

Radical Environmentalism


Stephanie Kaza
Environmental Program
University of Vermont




Environmental Philosophy; Environmental Activism

Pedagogical Level



Spring 1997


University of Vermont



  1. To recognize differences and similarities among forms of radical environmentalism.
  2. To understand the process of “liberation” at the root of radical positions.
  3. To gain skill in articulating ethical positions on environmental issues from radical perspectives.
  4. To gain experience in methods, strategies, and group dynamics of environmental activism.


Classes will be in a variety of formats including workshop exercises, lectures, discussions, oral presentations, and guest panels. You are expected to attend all classes. If you miss a class, please ask another student for assistance in catching up on the material. As only 2–3 classes are assigned for each of the movements, the course will move along at a regular clip. Please make every effort to attend, both to help yourself and to support your peers.

Cooperative Learning

Almost all successful environmental work is done in cooperative teams and through joint efforts. You will be working closely with others in the class on your assignments, sharing resources, and ideas and helping each other with direction, focus, and clarity. Please make an effort to work effectively in a group. The more you learn with each other, the less you will be solely engaged with me in a learning relationship and the more capable you will be of undertaking group environmental advocacy work in the future.


None listed


Reading Assignments
Some reading will be covered through lecture format but most will be reviewed through class discussion. Please come to class prepared to speak to the main points of the assigned material. Most of your texts are very recent and therefore quite current and cutting edge. The reading is evocative and challenging, so be ready to articulate your point of view!

Group Work
You have two projects in which you work with others in a small group. This requires outside meeting time in addition to time provided in class. Write-up of these projects will be minimal; oral presentations will be used to explain your process and results. Please plan your presentations carefully to use the time well and involve all group members.

Take-home exams are an opportunity for you to integrate the points made by various authors. You may use any notes, readings, outside references, and consulting with your classmates in preparation for the exam. However, when you sit down to write your paper, please do this on your own.

Guidelines for Assignments

  1. All written work should be completed on a word processing program and printed out in either “Faster” or “Best” settings, or on a laser printer. Do not hand in work printed at the “Draft” setting or handwritten. These are difficult to read. Double-space your papers, allowing normal 1.25“ margins for comments. Number your pages, and staple all pages together for safety. Consider the visual presentation of your work; check for computer errors and broken lines or unformatted paragraphs and strange hyphenation. My good impression of your work is to your benefit.

  2. Spellcheck and proofread your work before handing it in. Errors should be minimal. Learn how to use the spellcheck programs on the computers.

  3. Use inclusive language (i.e., be conscious of your use of gender pronouns and referents). Use “people” or “humankind” instead of “man” and “he or she” instead of simply “he.”

  4. Be honest. Use your own words and express your own thoughts. Don’t fall into the habit of using others’ words without giving them proper credit. Avoid long quotes; work to express your understanding of an author’s ideas in your own words.

  5. Turn work in on time (i.e., in class on the day it is due). Late work is subject to a penalty of 5% per day. The main trouble with late work is that it falls out of the flow of incoming work and suffers from lack of attention. I will read all the papers at once after they are turned in and try to return them to you within 1–2 weeks.

  6. At the top of all your papers, please be sure to give your name, college, and date. You do not need to use extra paper for a cover sheet. Printing on both sides of the page is fine, if your computer can do this.

There are three exams, two projects, and two group oral presentations for a total of 500 points. In order of due dates, these are as follows:

First Take-Home Exam due February 11
Life Cycle Analysis
(includes oral presentation)
due February 25
Midterm Take-Home Exam due March 13
Environmental Advocacy Projects
(includes oral presentation)
due April 22
Final Take-Home Exam due May 8
Class Participation  

Grading Philosophy
I do not believe that grades are central to the learning experience. However, given the limitations of grades, I will do my best to be fair, open, honest, and communicative about the grading process. This does not mean I will negotiate every grade you question. It means I will try to be clear about the assignments and criteria for excellent work and give you good feedback on your papers.

If you are in trouble and falling behind for any reason, please come in and talk to me. I cannot help you catch up if I do not know you’re swamped!


Required Texts

Fourez, Gerard. Liberation Ethics. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1982.

List, Peter C. Radical Environmentalism. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth, 1993.

Singer, Peter. Animal Liberation. New York: Avon Books, 1990.

Merchant, Carolyn. Ecology: Key Concepts in Critical Theory. Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press, 1994.

Recommended Texts

HELVARG Helvarg, David. War Against the Greens. San
Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1994.

Jan 14 Introduction: What is Radical?
Assigned Reading
  • LIST: vi-14.
  • MERCH: ix-x; 8–15 (rec); ch 3.
Jan 16

Social Sources of Values and Morals
Assigned Reading

  • FOUREZ: chs 1–3.
Jan 21

Individual vs Structural Ethics
Assigned Reading

  • FOUREZ: chs 5, 6, 8.
Jan 23

Consumerism: An Ethical Analysis
Assigned Reading

  • MERCH: ch 6.
Assignments Due
  • Life Cycle Analysis projects.
Jan 28

Animal Rights: Research Issues
Assigned Reading

  • SINGER: chs 1–2.
Jan 30

Factory Farming
Assigned Reading

  • SINGER: ch 3.
Feb 4

Campus Ecology: Animal Issues
Arguments for Vegetarianism
Assigned Reading

  • SINGER: ch 4.
Feb 6

Deep Ecology Philosophy
Assigned Reading

  • LIST: ch 1.
  • MERCH: chs 12, 26.
Feb 11

Deep Ecology Activism
Assigned Reading

  • LIST: chs 4–7.
Assignments Due
  • Wildlands Project, Wild Earth.
  • First Take-Home Exam (on Fourez and Singer).
Feb 13

Assigned Reading

  • LIST: ch 9, 108–24.
Feb 18

Social Ecology
Assigned Reading

  • LIST: 93–107.
  • MERCH: ch 14.
Feb 20

Socialist Ecology (& the Greens)
Assigned Reading

  • MERCH: chs 15, 10.
Feb 25

Life Cycle Project Presentations
Assignments Due

  • Life Cycle Analysis
Feb 27

Life Cycle Project Presentations
Assignments due

  • Life Cycle Analysis
Mar 4

Town Meeting Day/No Class

Mar 6

Ecofeminist Philosophy
Assigned Reading

  • LIST: ch 2.
  • MERCH: ch 17.
Mar 11

Ecofeminist Activism
guest speaker to be announced
Assigned Reading

  • LIST: ch 8.
  • handout materials
  • MERCH: ch 16(rec).
Mar 13

Ecofeminist Spirituality
Assigned Reading

  • MERCH: chs 28, 30.
Assignments Due
  • Midterm Take-Home (Deep Ecology, Ecosocialism, and Ecofeminism)

Mar 18–20 Spring Break

Mar 25

Campus Ecology Advocacy Projects
Assigned Reading

  • FOUREZ: ch 10.
  • handout materials.
  • activism strategies.
Mar 27

Liberatory Paradigms: Comparing the Movements
Assigned Reading

  • MERCH: chs 18, 20.
Apr 1

Third World Critique of Radical Environmentalism
Assigned Reading

  • MERCH: ch 25.
Apr 3

Environmental Racism
Assigned Reading

  • MERCH: ch 22.
Apr 8

Eco-justice Activism
Assigned Reading

  • MERCH: ch 23, 371–72.
Apr 10

Eco-justice Activism
guest speaker to be announced

Apr 15

Anti-Green Backlash
Assigned Reading

  • HELVARG: chs 1–4, 7.
Apr 17

“Wise Use” as Reaction to Radical Environmentalism
Assigned Reading

  • HELVARG: chs 9,14.
Apr 19

Earth Day

Apr 22

Project Presentations

Apr 24

Project Presentations

Apr 29

Review, Course Evaluation

May 8

Final Exam
Assignments Due
Final Take-Home Exam (Environmental Racism, Wise Use, Critiques of DE, SE, and EF).


Copyright © 1997 Stephanie Kaza.
Reprinted with permission.
The author retains all copyrights for all syllabi materials.
Please contact each author individually for reprint rights