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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Anthropology and Environment (PGSP11416)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryWhy do human cultures engage differently with their natural environments and how do they understand processes of environmental sustainability and climate change? This course examines anthropological approaches to diverse human understandings of and interactions with their changing environments, and it brings an anthropological approach to understanding the socio-cultural, socio-political, and socio-economic implications of environmental challenges and related development, conservation, and human rights issues.
Course description Introductory sessions critically examine the history of anthropological entanglements with the environment and anthropological models of human-environment relations: from ecological determinism to cultural constructivism and phenomenology, and the anthropocene. The remainder of the course explores problem-centred and solution-driven approaches to pressing environmental problems with socio-cultural, socio-political, and socio-economic implications.

Class debates and online discussions during the first half of the course feed into the assessed mid-term short case study in the form of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) or consultancy report, enabling students to take an anthropological approach to topical and/or local environmental challenges (e.g. the Wildlife Trust's priorities in establishing Local Living Landscapes; community engagement in Scotland's Marine Protected Area network; debates about Edinburgh's green belt and brownfields; the effectiveness of community gardens in NHS mental healthcare; renewable energy versus fracking).

Innovative Learning Week activities could include a class day trip, for example to the Scottish Shale Museum ( at Almond Valley ( near Livingston, established "to preserve and interpret the history and environment of West Lothian and make this heritage accessible, engaging and enjoyed by all".

The course as a whole - including the reading list and key readings, lecture topics, ethnographic and documentary films, class debates, online discussions, case studies, and essay topics - has a wide geographical scope, drawing on diverse examples from around the world. The end-term long coursework is in the form of a discursive anthropological essay, requiring students to engage with the relevant bodies of anthropological literature in order to delve into one or more of the course themes in more depth.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2015/16, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  20
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 5, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 171 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Mid-term short case study in the style of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) or consultancy report (1,000 words, 30%)
End-term long coursework essay chosen from a set of questions relating to one or more of the weekly course topics (3,000 words, 70%)
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate detailed knowledge and a critical understanding of specialised theories, concepts and principles in the history and forefront of anthropology of the environment.
  2. Evaluate the contributions made by professional anthropologists as internal advisors, independent consultants, or academic critics of environmental conservation projects.
  3. Develop original and creative responses by applying insights from environmental anthropology to related development, conservation, and human rights issues.
  4. Engage constructively with others during class debates and online discussions, and exercise substantial autonomy and initiative in individual assessment activities.
  5. Effectively communicate complex environmental debates, both in the style of an Environmental Impact Assessment or consultancy report, and in discursive essay form.
Reading List
Crate, S.A. 2011. Climate and culture: anthropology in the era of contemporary climate change. Annual Review of Anthropology 40: 175-194.
Ingold, T. 2000. Globes and spheres: the topology of environmentalism. Pp.209-218 in The Perception of the Environment. London: Routledge.
Helmreich, S. 2005. How scientists think; about 'natives', for example: a problem of taxonomy among biologists of alien species in Hawaii. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 11: 107-128.
Lazarus, H. 2012. Sea change: island communities and climate change. Annual Review of Anthropology 41: 285-301.
Orlove, B., H. Lazarus, G.K. Hovelsrud & A. Giannini. 2014. Recognitions and responsibilities: on the origins and consequences of the uneven attention to climate change around the world. Current Anthropology 55, 3: 249-275.
West, P., J. Igoe & D. Brockington. 2006. Parks and peoples: the social impact of Protected Areas. Annual Review of Anthropology 35: 251-277.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills This course and its assessments will equip students to take an anthropological approach to understanding the socio-cultural, socio-political, and socio-economic implications of environmental challenges and related development, conservation, and human rights issues.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Laura Jeffery
Tel: (0131 6)51 3865
Course secretaryMs Jessica Barton
Tel: (0131 6)51 5066
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