About the Author
Michael E. Zimmerman
Michael E. Zimmerman is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Center for Humanities and the Arts at CU, Boulder. Since his undergraduate years, Zimmerman has been concerned about anthropogenic environmental problems. His research examines the metaphysical, cultural, ethical, cognitive, political, and religious dimensions of such problems. Like many others in the field of environmental studies, Zimmerman maintains that a multi-disciplinary approach is needed both to comprehend and to propose effective solutions for environmental problems. Natural science is crucial for characterizing, making predictions about, and providing alternative scenarios regarding existing and emerging environmental problems. Anthropogenic environmental problems, however, arise from human activities that are usually best studied by researchers from the social sciences, humanities, and the arts. Although criticizing the command-and-control attitude toward nature that has characterized modernity, Zimmerman has also warned of the dangers posed by the anti-modernist attitudes that characterize some versions of environmentalism. Zimmerman asks: How to retain what is noble about modernity, including the freedoms connected with politics, research, and religion, while correcting its shortcomings, including serious environmental problems?
In what has been called “post-normal” science, researchers must not only deal with problems characterized by complexity and thus uncertainty, but must also integrate multiple perspectives, many of which operate at different scales, with different assumptions, and in light of different value concerns. Environmental policy formation will become increasingly effective as it develops the conceptual models needed to identify crucial methods and perspectives and to show their relationships to one another, as well as to specific problems. Working with Ken Wilber and Sean-Esbjörn Hargens, Zimmerman is helping to develop and apply one such integrative model to anthropogenic environmental problems.