ENV333 Assignment #3

Students must choose three different questions in total for the third assignment, selecting one
question from three of the four following groups of questions. The response to each question
should be between 1000 and 1200 words. Length penalties will be deducted for responses
longer than 1200 words. The total length of the assignment – excluding the reference list,
questions, and titles – should be no more than 3600 words.
Before responding to each of your chosen questions, reproduce the question as it appears here
with the number corresponding to the numbering scheme used here. Make sure that, in
answering each question, you draw on a minimum of three different course readings or
lectures (although the best papers will normally exceed this requirement). Over the course of
the entire assignment, endeavour to use the greatest diversity of course sources possible
from different weeks of the course, drawing on a wide selection of readings, authors, and
course ideas. Non-course academic sources (including those in the document posted on
Blackboard with additional resources) may also be used. Create a single bibliography or
reference list in APA format for the entire assignment.
Group #1 Critical Reflection Topics: Indigenous and Religious Worldviews
You may choose to write on one of the following critical reflection topics. Always indicate
clearly in your paper which worldviews you are writing about, being as specific as possible1.
1a Consider the way Loy characterises the market as a religion with the way Assadourian
speaks of the culture of consumerism as well as the way that Hathaway & Boff (pp. 104-5)
speak of consumerism as a cosmology. Drawing on these and related course readings,
describe how consumerism and the “religion of the market” inform a worldview that is
ecologically destructive. Compare this worldview to one drawn from a specific religion or
Indigenous culture (indicate clearly which one you have chosen – if choosing an Indigenous
worldview, choose a specific Indigenous culture), particularly the way this
religious/Indigenous worldview might challenge consumerism and other aspects of a
modern worldview that tend to drive quantitative growth, consumption, and ecological
destruction. What resources from this religious or Indigenous worldview might be helpful
in moving toward a more ecological worldview?
1b Consider one particular religious or Indigenous worldview (indicate clearly which one you
have chosen – if choosing an Indigenous worldview, choose a specific Indigenous culture).
What are some of the key ecological insights or ideas found in this worldview? How do
these ideas compare with insights from deep ecology, ecofeminism, social ecology, or an
ecological justice perspective (choose one and indicate it clearly)? In what ways are they
similar or different? Are there particular insights or ideas from this religious or Indigenous
worldview that could be problematic from an ecological perspective? Are there other ideas
or resources found within this religious or Indigenous tradition that could help to counter
these or to shift it towards a more ecological worldview?
1c Consider any two different religious or Indigenous worldviews drawn from two different
weeks of the course (indicate clearly which ones – if choosing an Indigenous worldview,
choose a specific Indigenous culture). Write an imaginary dialogue between
representatives of each of these two worldviews. Each person first describes two key
insights found in their particular religious or Indigenous tradition that they believe make
1 Particularly in writing about Indigenous worldviews, try to be as specific as possible since different
Indigenous cultures can be very different from each other. While you may use course sources that,
perhaps, adopt certain generalisations about Indigenous cultures in a particular geographic region, be
clear when you are doing so and take care to not make sweeping statements. Similarly, with religions, it
is often helpful to be as specific as possible.
Assignment #3 Details and Guidelines: Page 2
a positive contribution towards an ecological worldview. Then, include a dialogue between
the two persons that points out similarities and differences between these insights.
Conclude by describing what each person learns from the other person’s perspective that
can enrich their own worldview.
1d Choose one religious tradition. Imagine you have been invited to give a short presentation
in a community of this religious tradition (clearly note the religion you are considering).
One group in this temple, church, synagogue, or religious centre wants to carry out an
extensive energy retrofit of their building, install solar panels, incorporate natural
elements into their worship/ritual space, and convert their lawn into an organic food
garden. Others in the community want to donate their money to support a local food bank
and homeless shelter. Based on your understanding of this religion’s worldview, write a
speech arguing in favour of one of these proposals (over the other) or put forth a new
proposal (supported by this religion’s beliefs) that addresses both the ecological concerns
and concerns around social justice and poverty.
1e Lynn White wrote that (western) Christianity is the most anthropocentric of all religions.
Drawing on course readings, argue why this is so or demonstrate how other factors may
have been more important in terms of the emergence of anthropocentrism (and
domination, exploitation, and colonisation) in Europe. Based on the readings, what
insights within Christianity could be used to move it towards a more ecological worldview?
Group #2 Critical Reflection Topics: Science and Worldviews
You may choose to write on one of the following critical reflection topics. Always indicate
clearly in your paper which worldviews you are writing about, being as specific as possible.
2a Describe three insights arising from post-19th century science (quantum physics, systems
theory, or cosmological insights) that support the movement towards a more ecological
worldview. In what ways are these insights similar to those of deep ecology or ecofeminism
(choose one and identify which you are focusing on)? In what ways are they different? To
what extent do they challenge earlier scientific understandings that may have supported
the emergence of exploitative, growth-oriented industrial capitalism?
2b Brian Swimme suggests that “the opportunity of our time is to integrate science’s
understanding of the universe with more ancient intuitions concerning the meaning and
destiny of the human” (Swimme as quoted in Hathaway & Boff, 2009, pg. 139-140).
Consider two key ecological insights from a particular Indigenous or religious worldview
(identify which you are focusing on – be as specific as possible; if you have written about an
Indigenous or religious worldview in question #1, choose a different religion or Indigenous
culture) and compare these to two similar or complementary insights from modern science
(systems theory, quantum theory, new cosmology, etc.). Based on your analysis, what
might a synthesis of the insights from these two worldviews look like, particularly in terms
of ecological insights or perspectives? Or is such a synthesis not possible (or not desirable)?
2c Consider the Gaia theory and the idea that the Earth functions, at least in some respects,
in a way similar to a single living organism (note some key ideas or insights you want to
focus on). Compare the insights from the Gaia theory to similar insights from specific
Indigenous or religious traditions (name which ones, focusing on one different than the
one(s) used in the questions in group 1). In what way do they differ and in what way are
they similar? In what ways are they distinct? In what ways? Might a synthesis be possible
(or desirable)? If so, what might it look like?
Group #3 Critical Reflection Topics: Eco-philosophies
You may choose to write on one of the following critical reflection topics. Always indicate
clearly in your paper which worldviews you are writing about, being as specific as possible.
Assignment #3 Details and Guidelines: Page 3
3a. Compare and contrast the key characteristics and ideas of two of the following: social
ecology/ecojustice, deep ecology, and ecofeminism (identify which two you are focusing on).
In what ways are they similar? In what ways are they different? Is it possible to imagine a
synthesis that incorporates the best ideas of each? If so, what might this look like and how
might such a perspective understand the meaning of “liberation”? If not, why is a synthesis
not possible?
3b. Is it possible to work for both ecological sustainability and social justice at the same time?
What potential conflicts can arise between these two goals? How can they be overcome? To
answer this question, please consider a specific case study or example (not directly
considered in the course) that you are familiar with – for example, a development proposal
in a specific community (clearly identify the case you are considering). If this proposal does
not further ecological sustainability or if it undermines social justice (or both), what kind of
alternative could be imagined that would take both into consideration? What are some key
elements that should be present in a model of development or sustainable community that
benefits both the poor and the wider ecological community? What kind of worldview might
underpin such a model?
Group #4 Critical Reflection Topics: Ecopsychology and Worldview Transformation
You may choose to write on one of the following critical reflection topics. Always indicate
clearly in your paper which worldviews you are writing about, being as specific as possible.
4a. Describe at least three key insights from ecopsychology that are helpful in understanding
how the worldview of modernity/industrial growth capitalism took hold and why
consumerism influences such a powerful influence. Based on these insights, how might the
worldview of consumerism (and market capitalism) be challenged – both at an individual
and societal level?
4b. Consider some of the key permaculture design principles as well as permaculture ethics.
What main assumptions and beliefs seem to underpin permaculture? How are these
similar or different from ideas found in some Indigenous worldviews (provide specific
examples)? Could permaculture design principles promote the process of re-indigenisation?
Why do you (or do you not) believe so?
4c. Consider either the Earth Charter Initiative, the Work that Reconnects (Joanna Macy),
one of the initiatives of the Pachamama Alliance (Awakening the Dreamer or Generating
Waking Up), or the Transition Towns movement. What are some of the key elements of the
worldview being promoted by (or apparent in) this initiative? What assumptions about
worldview change is this initiative based on? How does its educational methodology draw
on ecopsychology or other ecological insights? Does it draw on or is it related to specific
religious, Indigenous, scientific, or philosophical perspectives? If so, which ones and how?