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Moral Development of Eco-Martyrs

Ashley Sanico, Depts. of Psychology and Gender Studies, Women, & Sexuality, Ian McFadden, and Victoria Bee, with Dr. Richard Bargdill, Dept. of Psychology

Over the past 18 years, close to 2,000 individuals have been murdered in attempts to preserve the natural world. Those who have carried out the killings are corrupt individuals or institutions that wish to discard and destroy the environment for personal gain and wealth. For the past two years, we have been studying these venerable Eco-Martyrs and their efforts to preserve the ecosystems and communities around them. Today, we are commenting on how these late heroes exemplify Lawrence Kohlberg’s final two stages of Moral Development, the Post-Conventional stages. The four individuals seen above, as well as their numerous counterparts are all consciously taking action to promote the stability and well-being of the environment around them while simultaneously bolstering the culture of the communities they belong to. These traits are indicative of individuals who have transcended the first two levels of moral development. It is a shame for us to have lost such forward-thinking individuals but it would be a greater dishonor to let these individuals die in vain and continue to reap rewards with no thought as to how it affects the world around us.

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Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Richard Bargdill, Ph.D.


Virginia Commonwealth University. Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program

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VCU Undergraduate Research Posters


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Moral Development of Eco-Martyrs