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Government & Politics   >   Ecologism

What is Ecologism?

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In this course, Professor Matthew Humphrey (University of Nottingham) thinks about ecologism as a political ideology by surveying five key thinkers to illustrate both the diversity of ecological thought, and its core unifying themes. We begin in the first module by developing a definition of ecologism and considering how to organise its various ideological strands, focusing in particular on the Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess’s distinction between the ‘shallow’ and ‘deep’ ecology movements. We then begin our survey of key thinkers with the American conservationist Aldo Leopold, focusing in particular on his philosophy of the ‘land ethic’. Then, in the third module, we consider the life and work of Rachel Carson, whose 1962 book Silent Spring is widely considered to have catalysed the modern environmentalist movement. In the fourth module, we foreground the German economist Ernst Friedrich Schumacher and examine the impact of his book Small is Beautiful (1973) on the ecologism movement. Our fourth key thinker is Carolyn Merchant, whose ecofeminism argued that the domination of nature was intimately linked to unequal gender relations. We end with the anarchist philosopher Murray Bookchin, who maintained that the root cause of environmental crises were the dual evils of hierarchy and domination within human societies, relations which he argued were then projected onto the natural world.

What is Ecologism?

In this module, we develop a definition of ecologism, thinking in particular about: (i) ecologism’s roots in the nineteenth-century science of ecology; (ii) the main distinctions that philosopher Arne Naess identifies between the ‘shallow’ and ‘deep, long-range’ ecology movements; and (iii) Naess’s key conceptual contributions to ecologism, including his ‘total field’ view of nature, ‘biospherical egalitarianism’, and ‘classless diversity’.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Humphrey, M. (2019, September 29). Ecologism - What is Ecologism? [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Humphrey, M. "Ecologism – What is Ecologism?." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 29 Sep 2019,


Prof. Mathew Humphrey

Prof. Mathew Humphrey

Nottingham University