Western Washington University Western Washington University ------------------------------------------------------------------------- --------------------------------

Environmental Management Seminar

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Discussion Questions for Ecofeminism and Environmental Justice:


1) Briefly, what is ecofeminism?

2) Until the 16th century, people predominantly felt that nature, from the cosmos to a stone, was a living organism. The premise was extremely flexible, but central to the theory was that “nature, especially the earth (was) a nurturing mother: a kindly beneficent female who provided for the needs of mankind in an ordered, planned universe. But, another opposing image of nature as female was also prevalent: wild and uncontrollable nature that could render violence, storms, droughts, and general chaos.” (Merchant, p.77) In this regard, the Scientific Revolution sought to mechanize and gain mastery over nature.

What are some of the ways Francis Bacon may have changed the way people thought?
3) “The image of the earth as a living organism and nurturing mother served as a cultural constraint restricting the actions of human beings. One does not readily slay a mother, dig into her entrails for gold or mutilate her body, although commercial mining would soon require that. As long as the earth was considered to be alive and sensitive, it could be considered a breach of human ethical behavior to carry out destructive acts against it.” (Merchant, p.78) An important aspect of ecofeminism is to expose and correct a global economy that currently maintains a value system that readily allows for the “slaying” of the mother by subordinating and objectifying both women and nature.

Can you provide any examples of how modern society thinks and consequently behaves towards women and animals? Are women in industrialized countries rejecting domination and objectification? How would society change if individuals were fairly compensated for “women’s work”?
4) “Whereas the medieval economy had been based on organic and renewable energy sources – wood, water, wind, and animal muscle – the emerging capitalist economy was based on nonrenewable energy – coal – and the inorganic metals – iron, copper, silver, gold, tin, and mercury.” (Merchant, p.79) Further destruction of our planet by the modern male experience economy was noted by Mellor as “unconcerned with the loss of resources for future generations; loss of habitat for other species; loss of biodiversity; loss of peace, quiet, and amenity – unless it can be sold. (Mellor, p.4)

Are we changing?

5) In the article Ecofeminism Meets Business: A Comparison of Ecofeminist, Corporate, and Free Market Ideologies, comparisons are drawn between the foundations for the free market/corporate capitalism structure and the ecofeminist capitalism structure:

Free Market/Corporate Capitalism Ecofeminist Capitalism
Humans are insatiable egocentric consumers. Human happiness involves satisfying complex psychological needs that cannot be met by a heavy emphasis on material consumption.
The good society maximizes human satisfaction. The good society serves the good of the whole through the practice of promoting consumption practices that work towards eliminating oppression and environmental degradation.
Egocentric economic activity is anthropocentrically optimal (i.e., if you do the best for you, it will end up being the best for everyone) (Crittenden, p.3). Ecocentric economic activity serves human interests better than egocentric economic striving (Crittenden, p.11).
Do you subscribe to the anthropocentric (human-centered) point of view? Do you believe that human happiness requires material consumption?” Are the foundations for ecofeminist capitalism applied in any country or industry that you know of?
6) Would the achievement of a new economics based on environmental integrity be worth limiting the freedom of the individual to the influence of a benevolent dictator? Do you believe that our leadership cannot only be educated about, but also embrace and believe the philosophy of ecofeminism?
What issues of environmental justice did you see when reviewing the website?

7) In what ways might we destigmatize ecological views in order to promote ecofeminism? Will it take an environmental holocaust to change the perception of environmental sustainability and human behavior?

8) In the article Ecofeminism Meets Business: A Comparison of Ecofeminist, Corporate, and Free Market Ideologies, Crittenden states, “Beliefs create realities. If we embrace a worldview of selfishness, we will bloat the propensities for selfishness inherent in humanity. If, conversely, we embrace virtue, we nourish the seeds of virtue in the human heart.” (Crittenden, p.8)

Is this true?
9) With respect to the article Environmental racism: The new liability for industrial site selection
Should race affect a business decision regarding about where to put industrial production sites?
Is environmental racism more the purview of public policy than it is of the business sector?
What should a business do during site selection to avoid acting in an environmentally racist way? What can the business do to mitigate the appearance of environmental racism? What is the difference between these two?
What is an appropriate methodology for an external agency to determine whether or not a company has behaved in an environmentally racist way?

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