Wilderness Ethic Manifesto

For this assignment, you will write a manifesto that takes a clear stand on Wilderness Ethics, outlines a position, and makes bold claims about why wilderness matters— to you.  Think of this as a public discourse and use  language to appeal to a broad public, readers not necessarily familiar with wilderness debates, who might find your blog on the web.

In your manifesto, you must reference some of the readings we’ve done in class as well as a minimum of five additional sources (ten total) to situate your opinions in the context of other wilderners.  Which thinkers do you agree with?  With which do you disagree?  Why?

While the effectiveness of your argument is more important than its length, you should shoot for around 2500 words.  A prospectus, including five sources in an annotated bibliography, is due April 17.  A well-developed draft is due April 24, and a draft for instructor review is due on May 1.

Examples of notable manifestos are available at on Wikipedia.

Prospectus Guidelines

A prospectus outlines the research you are planning to undertake and convinces your audience that the research is worth doing and that you are capable of doing it.  Your prospectus should be about 350 words and must be approved before undertaking the major project.

In your prospectus, answer the following questions:

1.  What is the wilderness ethics related research problem or question you intend to address?

2.  Why did you choose this problem or question? Why is this an interesting question or problem?  Why is it problematic?  Why is it significant?

3.  How far along are you in thinking and research?  What do you expect to discover?  Are you ready to formulate an ethics statement  (a working “answer” to that research question”?  If so, what is it?  Take a stab.  It is ok to be wrong.

4.  Attach a working bibliography (MLA format) of sources you have used so far to help you think about this problem or question.  Write a short annotation for the material you have already read that summarizes and discusses how the source addresses your research question.  Use the guidelines available at Purdue OWL’s website for constructing and formatting your Annotated Bibliography.

  • Here, I want you to cite some of  the sources we’ve read as a class that speak to your question or problem.  You’ll add to these next week with individual secondary (or perhaps primary if you are surveying or observing) sources.

One response to “Wilderness Ethic Manifesto

  1. Wilderness Ethic Manifesto Prospectus
    Thesis: The wilderness matters to me because it is a place for physical, emotional and spiritual growth. While the wilderness remains a therapeutic safe haven for me, many people take these sanctuaries for granted. My goal is to find out why the wilderness is becoming rapidly more neglected.
    A) The question I hope to answer in my ethics manifesto is: Why do the majority of people not appreciate the wilderness’ therapeutic values?
    B) The reason I chose this question is simply because I have witnessed a depressingly large amount of people take the wilderness for granted in their daily lives. The wilderness has always been a place for rehabilitation for me and I have used it since an early age as a sanctuary for exploration, healing and enlightenment. This is a particularly interesting topic because it applies almost everywhere around the world. I started noticing at an early age that my friends were turning to video games and indoor sports to fill their free time. These activities may not necessarily be harmful; however, they close many doors that exploration in the wilderness can offer. I have spent hours on end roaming the woods, finding out who I am and what I like to do. Video games and lounging around only take this self-acknowledgment away from oneself! Although I cannot extrapolate to other parts of the world, I will research with the goal to find out if the wilderness is taken for granted as severely in other countries as it is in our own. This is a significant topic because in the US, our wilderness is depleting rapidly; if our youth continues to take the wilderness for granted, they will never get the opportunities that I had as a child to explore and be creative.
    C) I am relatively far along in my thinking. I have spent quite some time in contemplation of this thought; however, I have not researched it whatsoever and I will jump on that as soon as I am finished with this prospectus. My hypothesis is that I will discover the majority of our youth moving further and further away from the wilderness as we technologically and socially develop. Facebook, Instagram, twitter…(you name it) all have a significant impact on the devaluation of the wilderness’ therapeutic and educational properties. I am not ready to form a working answer to this research question; however, I do believe that one of the main reasons people have come to ignore the wilderness and take all it has to offer for granted is because of the social media movement “to be cool”. “Cool” kids generally frame their mindsets upon those of celebrities or figureheads of their lives and I cannot think of a single celebrity who stresses the importance of going outside and exploring the wilderness. Another answer to this question is: People have come to devalue wilderness because they no longer have a choice. Massive subdivisions and retail centers have been built over the past twenty or so years that have depleted many forests and wilderness-like areas. Hopefully my manifesto will promote awareness of the fact that the wilderness is a gift and not merely a chunk of land.

    Works Cited
    Bergstrom, John C. An Organizing Framework for Wilderness Values. State College, PA: Venture, 2005. Print.
    Bryson, Bill. A Walk in the Woods. London: Doubleday, 1997. Print.
    Leopold, Aldo. A Sand County Almanac, and Sketches Here and There. New York: Oxford UP, 1987. Print.
    Noss, Reed F. “Soul of the Wilderness.” International Journal of Wilderness 2.2 (1996): n. pag. Web.
    William, Cronon. ” The Trouble with Wilderness; Or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature.” William Cronon. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2013.

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