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Module Specifications..

Current Academic Year 2023 - 2024

Please note that this information is subject to change.

Module Title Environmental Ethics
Module Code BE409
School School of Biotechnology
Module Co-ordinatorSemester 1: Konstantinos Gkrintzalis
Semester 2: Konstantinos Gkrintzalis
Autumn: Konstantinos Gkrintzalis
Module TeachersPaul Cahill
Denise Harold
Konstantinos Gkrintzalis
Janosch Heller
NFQ level 8 Credit Rating 5
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None

To introduce the student to the subject of ethics with particular reference to developments in environmental science and health.Your tutors will provide you with a case study that requires you to analyse a particular problem, evaluate the scientific, social, ethical and legal issues and to create recommendations for policy and governance and public engagement.

Learning Outcomes

1. Appreciate risk, precaution and trust.
2. Discuss issues that are of ethical concern for the biosphere.
3. Formulate an ethical view on how to promote democratic decision making in environmental science and health.
4. Construct reasoned arguments to support their position on the ethical and social impact of advances in environmental science and technology.
5. Demonstrate your creativity, problem-solving and reflection competencies to produce a valuable report.
6. Work effectively within a group to create recommendations for policy, governance and public engagement.
7. Peer-review the work of another and defend their stakeholder position.

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Lecture16Test cases in Environmental ethics
Independent Study101You will work within groups and will have individual responsibility for a specific task agreed by the group. Each case study will provide you with opportunities to demonstrate your creativity, problem-solving and reflection competencies and will motivate you to produce valuable individual and group reports.
Group work8Each group will be required to i) provide a critical succinct account of the underlying science, ii) describe how you worked as a group to analyse the problem, iii) identify the ethical philosophy/philosophies underlying your recommendations, iv) discuss implications for policy, governance and public engagement.
Total Workload: 125

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

Brief History of Science and Societal attitudes to Science
o Enlightenment, Modernism & Postmodernism

Public evaluation of science and technology
Role of media, models for communication of science with public

Introduction to Environmental ethics
Introduction to Environmental ethics o Definition o Development of Ethics  Ancient Greeks  Judaeo-Christian ethics  Natural Law  Ethics after 16th Century • Ethical Theories: deontological, consequentialism / utilitarianism and virtue ethics  Growth of Environmental Ethics  Environmental Ethics in 21st century • Values o Instrumental, biocentrism, ecocentrism • The issues o sustainability, terrestrial and aquatic pollution, global climate change, environmental degradation, loss of biodiversity, • Society  Making ethical decisions  Standards of ethical conduct in science

The Practice of Ethics
o Risk, The Precautionary principle and Trust o Administration of Science & Technology in Ireland  Science Foundation Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, Environmental Protection Agency, Health Research Board o Regulation  National Council for Bioethics, Government departments (Health & Children, Agriculture & Food, Justice), Environmental Protection Agency, Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland, Food Safety Authority in Ireland, Irish Medicines Board o Intellectual Property & Patenting

Test cases in environmental ethics
o Case studies will be designed around authentic, current and relevant environmental challenges which have a contentious fractious nature. Each will be supported by core reading material from peer-reviewed scientific literature. For consistency, each group will be required i) to provide a critical succinct account of the underlying science, ii) to describe how you worked as a group to analyse the problem, iii) to identify the ethical philosophy/philosophies underlying your recommendations, iv) to provide a succinct account of your recommendations and v) to discuss implications for policy, governance and public engagement.

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment100% Examination Weight0%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
Report(s)Individual Stakeholder report on Case study65%Week 6
PresentationIdentification of key issues in case study, explanation of complexities and formulation of set of recommendations. Each group will make a group presentation (15 min plus 5min for discussion) with recommendations on the case assigned. 5% is group contribution and 10% is individual student contribution.15%Week 8
Report(s)Peer review of case study10%Week 8
Report(s)Peer review of case study for the other teams case study. This is a group mark because its group submits one report discussing the other group's case study.10%Week 10
Reassessment Requirement Type
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
This module is category 1
Indicative Reading List

  • John Bryant, Linda Baggott la Velle, John Searle: 2005, Introduction to Bioethics, 1st, John Wiley & Sons, England, 0 470021985
  • John Bryant, Linda Baggott la Velle, John Searle: 2002, Bioethics for scientists, 1st, Wiley, Chichester, 0471495328
  • G. Tyler Miller Jr: 2007, Living in the Environment Principles, Connections and Solutions, 15th, Thomson Brooks/Cole, 0-495-12524-5
  • Ben Mepham: 2005, Bioethics An introduction for the biosciences, 1st, 12, Oxford University Press, Oxford OX2 6DP, 0-19-926715-4
Other Resources

Programme or List of Programmes
AFUAge Friendly University Programme
ESTBSc in Environmental Science & Tech
SHSAOStudy Abroad (Science & Health)
Date of Last Revision26-MAY-08

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