LEVENTE (LEV) SZENTKIRÁLYI† is a Ph.D. candidate in the Political Science Department at the University of Colorado at Boulder, whose primary research bridges political theory with environmental policy and engages problems of environmental justice. Lev’s broad and multifaceted teaching experience includes interdisciplinary, service-learning, online, self-paced, and hybrid courses in political theory, international relations, and writing. Lev has been awarded for teaching excellence, he has received grant funding to develop new course curricula, and he has presented papers on teaching and learning at the premier research and teaching and learning conferences in political science.
Lev’s dissertation on the ethics of precaution and environmental risk regulation explores why it is morally wrong for emitters to release substances into the environment whose health effects are uncorroborated. Bisphenol A (BPA) in food packaging and growth hormones (rBGH) in dairy products are but two familiar examples of the 70,000 substances manufactured in the U.S. and routinely emitted into the environment, for which toxicity data is limited or absent. He engages arguments in both environmental policy and normative ethics that claim that in the absence of evidence verifying a probable risk of severe harm to public health, preventatively regulating the emission of such substances is unjustified. And in rejecting conventional treatments of uncertainty, Lev argues that actions that create ‘uncertain threats of environmental harm’ wrongfully gamble with the welfare of those who may be exposed, and that despite the lack of knowledge of the actual health effects of exposure, emitters are morally obligated to strive to prevent exposing others to potentially harmful emissions.
This work has practical implications on national and global environmental policy reform, and part of Lev’s proposal to safeguard the public against uncertain environmental threats is a new labeling scheme for consumer goods that contain substances whose health effects are unverified. Lev’s work also has broad theoretical implications on issues of human rights, environmental discrimination, food justice, and climate ethics—implications that his current research projects explore.
† pronounced: sěnt-kē-rŏ-yē :: “sent-key-rah-yee”