Module 5

Talking it Through

Communicating About Environmental Challenges Across Worldviews

Tensions In Sustainability Forum Series, Center for Ethics, Emory University

Module Goals

This module focuses on understanding the biophysical, social, and ethical complexities of environmental challenges. To this end, the following overarching goals have been identified
for this module.
  • Participants develop a better understanding of the ethical complexities of environmental challenges.
  • Participants are equipped to constructively address economic and social conflicts that stem from environmental challenges.
  • Participants become aware of the various environmental ethical lenses employed by different people, which will enable them to appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of diverse ethical perspectives.


To prepare for this module kindly take some time to familiarize yourself with this guide. In addition to this, review publications by your state and local environmental groups to familiarize yourself with environmental challenges in your community. For example, when presenting in the Atlanta area it might be useful to research the ongoing dispute between Georgia, Florida and Alabama over the waters of the Apalachicola – Chattahoochee – Flint River basin. You might also note a few interesting facts about the environmental services provided in the area you live. For example, agriculture and forestry are important industries in Georgia. These industries jointly add $74.9 billion to Georgia’s economy annually and employ 1 in 7 Georgians. This information can be found through the national Environmental Protection Agency, your state’s correlated agency (Environmental Protection Division in Georgia), or your state and local nonprofits (Conservancies, etc.).
  • Prior to the session, print the “ Ethical Styles” found in the Teaching Materials section of this module. Cut out each description for use in the Probing Moral Complexity activity. Fold those slips of paper and put them in a bowl, hat, or other container. Bring blank slips of paper for note taking in the activity.


Preparation time should be about 2 hours . The implementation of the module will take 1 hour. Throughout the guide suggested times are provided for sections and sub-sections to assist the facilitator with time management.

Module Outline

  • Understanding Value in the Environment
  • Ecosystem Services and Benefits
  • Factors that Disrupt Ecosystem Services
  • Moral Issues Posed by Environmental Challenges

Learning Outcomes

After the module, participants should:
  • Understand how people ascribe value to the environment differently.
  • Be familiar with ecosystems services and understand how these services benefit people.
  • Understand how ecosystem services are connected and interdependent.
  • Be familiar with and understand the factors that could disrupt ecosystem services.
  • Understand how different people view the moral issues posed by environmental challenges.

Materials Needed

  • Marker or other writing implements of 3 different colors
  • Whiteboard or large flip chart on which to use writing implements
  • Two bowls, hats, or other containers out of which participants can draw names
  • 8-10 blank slips of paper
  • 8-10 slips of paper with Ethical Styles printed on them
  • Pens or pencils

Download Module 5 Here: CREATE_Forum.Module5