LEV SZENTKIRÁLYI† earned his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Colorado and is a teaching faculty member in CU-Boulder’s Program for Writing and Rhetoric and Baker Natural Sciences and the Environmental Residential Academic Program, where he teaches thematic academic writing courses that draw on his interdisciplinary research interests in environmental justice, environmental policy, and international relations.
Dr. Szentkirályi’s new book, The Ethics of Precaution: Uncertain Environmental Health Threats and Duties of Due Care (New York: Routledge, 2019), 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, Dr. Szentkirályi develops a broadly Kantian argument 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.
Motivated by an appreciation for scholarship that intersects different disciplines, Dr. Szentkirályi’s student-centered pedagogy and interdisciplinary courses challenge students to develop an integrative understanding of the scientific, policy, and ethical dimensions of the complex environmental problems and social phenomena they explore, to draw on their discipline-specific studies to offer insight into these problems to contribute to our collective learning, and to refine transferable skills of research and writing that they can apply in their majors and beyond. Dr. Szentkirályi has been awarded for teaching excellence, his service-learning courses have been recognized by CU-Boulder (Spring 2018 with the Vice Provost’s Office and Fall 2018 with Foothills United Way), he has received several teaching grants to develop innovative courses and meaningful service-learning opportunities, and he has presented papers on teaching and learning at the premier research and teaching and learning conferences in political science.
† pronounced: sěnt-kē-rŏ-yē :: “sent-key-rah-yee”