Sonoma State University

Philosophy 200

Philosophical Issues in Global Climate Change

Uncertainty, Caution, Community, Equity, Future

 Syllabus Spring 2007

Section 200-1, M 4:00-6:40, Nichols 166 Class List

Instructor: Zeno Swijtink
Office: Nichols 326
Office hour: Wednesday, 1 - 2 pm (sign-up!), by email, by chat, and by special appointment (f2f, or telephone)
Phone: 664-2270 (only during office hours; do not leave a voice message, instead send an email)
email: (always put PHIL200-1 in the subject header!!)
chat: AIM screen name: zenoswijtink

Class mailing list address:

NB: Students are automatically subscribed to their class's email list under their SSU email account. To communicate with the instructor only use that account!

Student are also enrolled in their WebCT section. To go to WebCT click on the link "Interactive" in the navigation bar of this page, and sign in using your LDAP username & password. If you are unfamiliar with WebCT go to and study the documentation linked there.

Required Books

John Houghton. 2004. Global Warming. The Complete Briefing. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK. 3rd Edition.
Daniel H. Gottlieb. 2004. The Galileo Syndrome. Canopy Publishing: Eastsound, WA 98245
Tom Athanasiou and Paul Baer. 2002. Dead Heat. Global Justice and Global Warming. Seven Stories Press: New York, NY

 Course Goals

• To develop a deeper understanding of climate as a common resource and co-creation of the whole biotic community, of the causes and effects of global climate change (GCC), and of the philosophical problems posed by GCC; to reflect on your own relation to GCC and if necessary come to a reorientation of your own stance in the world. We are looking for an emotional way of knowing in Aristotle's sense, a way of knowing that involves the passions, one that orients us towards what is known.

• To improve your ability to find and evaluate information, to read written material in books and on electronic media critically, to write clearly, discuss deeply, listen carefully, and to speak engagingly in different settings.

Note on work due and on late work

To make sure that I can dedicate all my time to the current concerns of the class I cannot accept late work. All work has to be turned in at the time it is due.

Since this is a course that meets f2f only once a week and is partially web-based, some work may be due on a day that the class does not meet . Moreover, on some of the regular days the class may not meet while work is still due (electronically).

Course Requirements

Journal and Bulletin Board entries *

25+6 pts

Participation **

16 pts

Brief oral presentation ***

4 pts

Paper #1 draft ****

2 pts

Paper #1

9 pts

Paper #2 Section 1 calculation

2 pts

Paper #2 draft

6 pts

Paper #2

18 pts

Group debate   #

7 pts

Paper #3  §

5 pts


100 pts

* Your Journal may be collected a number of times during the semester and graded pass/fail. Each journal assignment has equal weight (total of 25 points). At the end of the semester the overall quality of your journal work is assessed (6 points). Make sure your journal is always complete so that you do not lose point when it is collected. The total number of journal assignments will depend on where the class is going. Keep your Journal separate from your class notes. Use a small note book. Clearly mark each Journal entry with the date it was assigned for, and start a new assignment on a new page. When making notes about assigned readings in your journal please be aware that you need to follow the Instructions for close reading of a text.

** You'll get a point for every time you come to class with an "entry ticket" and participate in discussion or small group activity.
An entry ticket is one page of writing with your name on it and with a substantial comment (statement of opinion + justification/reason for the opinion) on the reading that was assigned for that meeting, all typed. Entry tickets are handed in at the beginning of class. Analogy: Think about taking this course as trying to get a pilot license: you need to have a minimum number of flying hours before you are allowed to pilot a plane. In this class the face-to-face interaction with classmates and instructor is essential to develop speaking and listening, writing and reading skills. If you miss a class explain your absence to the instructor before the class, through email so you keep in touch with the instructor who needs to know how you are doing in order to be effective.

*** Brief oral presentation (4 points): Students give a brief oral presentation to class on a topic selected by the instructor. Topics vary, and support the material and issues that are discussed in that class session. [This was cancelled this semester]

**** Drafts of paper #1 and #3 are graded on a pass/no pass basis. To get credit for your draft you discuss your draft with a classmate in class, and take these comments into account when you rewrite your draft. If you want to discuss your draft with the instructor it has to be ready earlier than the regular due date: see the schedule below. I am not able to allow rewrites, but encourage everyone to discuss a draft with me. It helps you to improve your paper, and your grade: both by improving your paper, and by receiving one bonus point (this is in addition to the standard points for a draft). To receive the bonus points I have to see evidence that you took my comments into account when you rewrote your paper, so attach your marked up draft to your final paper when you hand it in.

@ Paper #2 is a more involved writing project that will go through several stages, one that requires more independent study. Add all your drafts when you hand in your final paper.

§ Paper #3 involves reflecting on the process of reorientation wrt global climate change that you were engaged in this semester.

# Group debate: A group of three students debates a thesis connected with the readings for this class and gives an in-class debate, with a pro-position, a con-position, and a moderator.

The student who argues the pro position marshals all the arguments in favor of the thesis; the students who defends the con position explains all the possible arguments against the thesis; and the third student is the moderator and will try to clarify the position of the two debaters by coming up with penetrating questions, analogies, cases about which the two debaters have to formulate an opinion.

Class should contribute to debate. After the debate students hand in a written version of their presentation. This work is graded individually. Debate topics are formulated by the instructor who is open to suggestions.


At any time during the semester you can calculate your percentage standing: divide the total number of points you have received (these are obtainable from the class's WebCT site, under "My Records") by the maximum number of points you could have received and multiple by 100%. Then consult the following table for conversion to a letter grade.































Additional Notes

Late Work To make sure that the instructor can dedicate all his time to the current concerns of the class he cannot accept late work except in highly unusual circumstances to his discretion. Such arrangements always have to be made in advance of deadlines except in highly unusual circumstances to his discretion.

Disabilities If you are a student with a disability and you think you may require accommodations you must register with the campus office of Disabled Student Services, located in Salazar Hall, room 1049, phone 664-2677. DSS will provide you with written confirmation of your verified disability and authorize recommended accommodations. This authorization must be presented to the instructor before any accommodations can be made.

For Important SSU Policies and Procedures for Students go here.

Last Updated 01/29/07 ZGS