Environmental Worldviews: Western & Deep Ecology

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  • 0:07 Worldview
  • 0:55 Environmental Worldview
  • 1:56 Western Worldview
  • 2:42 Deep Ecology Worldview
  • 4:15 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Environmental worldviews are the commonly shared beliefs that give groups of people a sense how humans should interact with the environment. Learn about two contrasting environmental worldviews: western and deep ecology.


Your beliefs are like snowflakes. Just like there are no two snowflakes that are the same, the set of beliefs that you hold in your head are unique to only you. These beliefs are what create your own personal view of the world and give you a sense of right and wrong behavior.

Your beliefs are shaped by those around you and the culture you grow up in. Therefore, while your set of beliefs are unique to you, groups of people can have commonly shared values that give them a sense of right and wrong behavior. This is called a worldview and in this lesson we will learn about two environmental worldviews, Western and Deep Ecology, and see how these differing viewpoints impact the environment.

Environmental Worldview

We know that a worldview is a collection of commonly shared values, and therefore the term environmental worldview can be defined as collective beliefs and values that give people a sense of how the world works, their role in the environment, and right and wrong behavior toward the environment. Environmental worldviews dictate how we interact with nature and our attitude toward how we use the natural resources it contains.

You could say that nature is at the mercy of the environmental worldviews of humans. If most humans share the view that humans are superior and should dominate over nature, then nature could face certain challenges.

If most humans share the view that all life forms have intrinsic value and therefore the right to exist, then the sustainability of nature could have a very different outcome. Out of these different perspectives come the two competing environmental worldviews that we are discussing in this lesson.

Western Worldview

In the one corner is the Western worldview. It is defined as a worldview that sees humans as dominant over nature and feels natural resources should be used for the benefit of humanity. The western worldview puts man first and declares human beings as superior to all other living and non-living things in the environment.

Therefore, it is the right of humans to use or even exploit natural resources to further their wealth and comfort. A person with a strong western worldview favors economic, industrial and technological growth and would be concerned with the deterioration of the environment only if it negatively impacted the lifestyle of human beings.

Deep Ecology Worldview

In the other corner is the Deep Ecology worldview. It is defined as a worldview that sees humans are just one species and all forms of life have intrinsic value and the right to exist. The Deep Ecology worldview sees humans as being on an equal level with other species, as opposed to being superior to them. Therefore, humans need to sacrifice wealth and comforts and even curb human population if these actions negatively impact the environment. A person with a strong Deep Ecology worldview feels that man should practice caution when it comes to economic, industrial, or technological growth as to not impede the richness and diversity of nature.

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