Environmental Research Topics

Ecology & Environment Research 1This list of ecology and environment research topics is design to provide students and researchers with a comprehensive outline of environmental studies and focuses primarily on environmental ethics and philosophy topics.

Environment is derived from the French words environ or environner, meaning around, which in turn originated from the Old French virer and viron (together with the prefix en), which mean ‘‘a circle, around, the country around, or circuit.’’ Etymologists frequently conclude that, in English usage at least, environment is the total of the things or circumstances around an organism—including humans—though environs is limited to the ‘‘surrounding neighborhood of a specific place, the neighborhood, or vicinity.’’

The word environment provokes two persuasive suggestions for a contemporary definition. First, the word environment is identified with a totality, everything that encompasses all of us, and this association is established enough to be not lightly dismissed. The very notion of environment, as Russian-born mathematical psychologist Anatol Rapoport (1911–2007) indicated, suggests the partitioning of a ‘‘portion of the world into regions, an inside and an outside.’’ The environment is the outside. Second, the word’s origin in the phrase ‘‘to environ’’ indicates a process that alludes to some sort of action or interaction, suggesting that the environment is not simply an inert phenomenon to be acted on without response or without affecting the organism in return. Environment must be a relative word, because it always refers to something environed or enclosed.

Environmental Research Topics

Case Studies

1. Bhopal
2. Biosecurity
3. Chernobyl
4. Hetch Hetchy
5. Hurricane Katrina

Commerce and Economics

6. Cost-Benefit Analysis
7. Economic Discounting
8. Economics, Ecological
9. Economics, Environmental
10. Economism
11. Ecotourism
12. Free Market Environmentalism
13. Globalization
14. Green Business
15. North American Free Trade Agreement
16. Patenting Life
17. Private Property
18. Takings
19. World Trade Organization

Cultural Antecedents

20. Conservation
21. Hudson River School
22. Landscape Architecture, Design, and Preservation
23. Landscape Painters and Environmental Photography
24. Preservation

Environmental Activism

25. Civil Disobedience
26. Ecosabotage
27. Ecotage and Ecoterrorism
28. Environmental Activism

Environmental Issues

29. Consumption
30. Coral Bleaching
31. Disease
32. Environmental Art
33. Extinction
34. Habitat Loss
35. Hunting and Fishing: I. Overview
36. Hunting and Fishing: II. Recreational Hunting
37. Hunting and Fishing: III. Ecological Hunting (Culling)
38. Hunting and Fishing: IV. Angling
39. Hunting and Fishing: V. Commercial Fishing
40. Mining: I. Overview
41. Mining: II. Acid Mine Drainage
42. Mining: III. Mountaintop Removal
43. Ozone Depletion
44. Pollen Flow
45. Pollution
46. Population
47. Transgenic Animals
48. War

Environmental Management

49. Conservation
50. Ecological Restoration
51. Ecosystem Health
52. Preservation
53. Resource Management
54. Salmon Restoration

Food and Agriculture

55. Agriculture
56. Factory Farms
57. Farms
58. Fish Farming
59. Food
60. Food Safety
61. Genetically Modified Organisms and Biotechnology
62. Hunger
63. Organic Farming
64. Pollen Flow
65. Seed Banks
66. Substantial Equivalence
67. Sustainable Agriculture
68. Transgenic Animals

Geographical Concepts

69. Biophilia
70. Regionalism
71. Space/Place

Geophysical Features

72. Aquifers
73. Atmosphere
74. Caves
75. Dams
76. Deserts and Desertification
77. Fire
78. Forests
79. Microbes
80. Mountains
81. Oceans
82. Outer Space
83. Rivers
84. Soils
85. Water
86. Watersheds
87. Wetlands

Global Perspectives

88. Gaia Hypothesis
89. Global Climate Change
90. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
91. Limits to Growth
92. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
93. Tragedy of the Commons

Government Agencies and Acts

94. Endangered Species Act
95. National Science Foundation
96. U.S. Bureau of Land Management
97. U.S. Department of Agriculture
98. U.S. Department of the Interior
99. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
100. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
101. U.S. Food and Drug Administration
102. U.S. Forest Service
103. U.S. National Park Service
104. Wilderness Act of 1964

International Treaties and Organizations

105. Brundtland Report
106. Convention on Biodiversity
107. Earth Charter
108. Earth Summit
109. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
110. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
111. North American Free Trade Agreement
112. Rio Declaration
113. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
114. United Nations Environment Programme
115. World Trade Organization

Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs)

116. Audubon Society
117. Defenders of Wildlife
118. Earth First!
119. Greenpeace
120. Nature Conservancy
121. Nongovernmental Organizations
122. Sierra Club
123. World Wide Fund for Nature

Philosophical Antecedents and Resources

124. Communitarianism
125. Ethics of Care
126. Frankfurt School
127. Natural Law Theory
128. Phenomenology
129. Pragmatism
130. Process Philosophy
131. Queer Theory
132. Romantic Poetry, English
133. Romanticism
134. Social Constructivism
135. Social Contract Theory
136. Utilitarianism
137. Virtue Ethics

Philosophical Issues

138. Anthropocentrism
139. Anthropomorphism
140. Biocentrism
141. Consciousness
142. Convergence Hypothesis
143. Environmental Pluralism
144. Ethical Extensionism
145. Future Generations
146. Holism
147. Intergenerational Justice
148. Intrinsic and Instrumental Value
149. Last Man Arguments
150. Speciesism
151. Teleology
152. Theory
153. Vegetarianism
154. Wilderness

Policy and Politics

155. Environmental Citizenship
156. Environmental Conflict Resolution
157. Environmental Design
158. Environmental Education
159. Environmental Impact Statement
160. Environmental Law
161. Environmental Policy
162. Environmental Politics
163. Green Politics in Germany
164. Precautionary Principle
165. Risk Assessment
166. Sustainable Architecture and Engineering
167. Sustainable Development
168. Sustainability
169. Takings
170. University-Industry Relationships
171. Waste Management

Regional Foci

172. Africa, Northwest
173. Africa, Sub-Saharan
174. Antarctica
175. Arctic
176. Australia and New Zealand
177. Caribbean
178. China
179. Europe: I. Mediterranean
180. Europe: II. Western Europe
181. India and South Asia
182. Israel and the Middle East
183. Japan
184. Korea, North and South
185. Mexico and Central America
186. North America
187. Polynesia
188. Russia and Eastern Europe
189. Scandinavia: I. Denmark and Sweden
190. Scandinavia: II. Norway
191. South America
192. Southeast Asia
193. United Kingdom

Related Disciplines

194. Adaptive Management
195. Cognitive Ethology
196. Conservation Biology
197. Ecocriticism
198. Ecology: I. Overview
199. Ecology: II. Community Ecology
200. Ecology: III. Ecosystems
201. Ecology: IV. Diversity–Stability Hypothesis
202. Ecology: V. Disequilibrium Ecology
203. Ecology: VI. Patch Dynamics
204. Ecology: VII. Philosophy of Ecology
205. Ecology: VIII. Integral Ecology
206. Environmental Aesthetics
207. Environmental History
208. Environmental Psychology
209. Environmental Sociology
210. Evolution
211. Evolutionary Psychology
212. Green Chemistry
213. Industrial Ecology

Religion and Environment

214. Bible
215. Buddhism
216. Christianity
217. Confucianism
218. Creationism and Intelligent Design
219. Daoism
220. Ecotheology
221. Hinduism
222. Islam
223. Jainism
224. Judaism
225. Paganism
226. Pantheism
227. Stewardship

Social Movements and Societies

228. Agrarianism
229. Anarchism
230. British Ecological Society
231. Chipko Movement
232. International Society for Environmental Ethics
233. Society for Conservation Biology


234. Biodiversity
235. Endangered Species Act
236. Exotic Species
237. Extinction
238. Invasive Species
239. Species
240. Speciesism

Technology and Environment

241. Alternative Technology
242. Animal Cloning
243. Automobiles
244. Energy
245. Nanotechnology
246. Nuclear Power
247. Pesticides
248. Technology
249. Transportation

Traditional Cultures and Environmental Ethics

250. Asian Philosophy
251. Australian Aborigines
252. Biocultural and Linguistic Diversity
253. Chicana/Chicano Environmental Ethics
254. Native Americans
255. Traditional Ecological Knowledge

Types of Environmental Philosophy

256. Biocentrism
257. Biophilia
258. Deep Ecology
259. Ecological Feminism
260. Environmental Justice
261. Land Ethic
262. Life: Respect/Reverence
263. New Environmental Paradigm
264. Postcolonial Environmental Ethics
265. Pragmatism
266. Social Ecology
267. Virtue Ethics

Types of Environments

268. Built Environment
269. Urban Environment
270. Wilderness

Ecology & Environment Research 2The word ecology was first used in published works in 1870 by the German zoologist Ernst Haeckel (1834–1919) from the Greek words oikos (house) and logos (logic or knowledge) to describe the scientific study of the relationships among organisms and their environment. The environment consists of both abiotic (e.g., water availability and temperature) and biotic (e.g., other organisms of the same species or different species) factors. Biologists began referring to themselves as ecologists at the end of the nineteenth century and shortly thereafter the first ecological societies and journals appeared. Since that time ecology has become a major branch of biological science. The contextual, historical understanding of organisms as well as the systems basis of ecology set it apart from the reductionist, experimental approach prevalent in many other areas of science.

This broad ecological view is gaining significance today as modern resource-intensive lifestyles consume much of nature’s supplies. Although intuitive ecology has always been a part of some cultures, current environmental crises make a systematic, scientific understanding of ecological principles especially important.

For many ecologists the basic structural units of ecological organization are species and populations. A biological species consists of all the organisms potentially able to interbreed under natural conditions and to produce fertile offspring. A population consists of all the members of a single species occupying a common geographical area at the same time. An ecological community is composed of a number of populations that live and interact in a specific region. In ecology there is an organizational hierarchy from the most inclusive—the biosphere—to the most specific—each individual organism. The levels of organization are (from broadest to most narrow): biosphere, region, landscape, ecosystem, community, interactions, population, and individual organism. The biosphere contains all ecosystems in the world, whereas each region holds only a subset of ecosystem types. Ecologists study organisms and their relationships with their environments with respect to these levels of organization.