Postgraduate Course: Anthropology and Environment (PGSP11416)
|School||School of Social and Political Science
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||Why 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.
This course examines anthropological approaches to diverse human understandings of and interactions with their changing environments and 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. 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.
Indicative sessions include:
History of anthropological entanglements with the environment: from ecological determinism to cultural constructivism, phenomenology, and the anthropocene;
Anthropological models of human-environment relations;
Native/non-native species and anti-immigration politics;
Belonging and migration: metaphors of rootedness and uprooting;
Ethnobotany, medicinal plants, and intellectual property rights (IPR);
Horticultural therapy in healing processes;
Nature, biodiversity, and urban landscapes;
Organic farming, pesticides, and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs);
Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and the Tragedy of the Commons;
The international politics and economics of resource extraction;
Cultures of (renewable) energy;
Local responses to global climate change;
The paradoxes of militarised landscapes;
People and parks: Terrestrial and Marine Protected Areas;
The broken promises of ecotourism.
Student Learning Experience
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 course entails a weekly two-hour session divided into a lecture and participative group work, and a fortnightly one-hour seminar for close discussion of key readings. Participation - i.e. contributions to group work and seminars, plus submission of short reflections on the weekly discussion readings - is assessed (10%).
Students are also assessed via two pieces of coursework: a mid-term short case study in the style of an Environmental & Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) on the environmental and social implications of a development project (20%), and an end-term longer summative essay in the form of a discursive anthropological essay engaging with the relevant bodies of anthropological literature and makes connections between theory, research, and public policy (70%).
This is a cross-disciplinary course rooted in anthropology, and is open to students with backgrounds across the social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2022/23, Available to all students (SV1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Lecture Hours 10,
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||Mid-term short essay (20%)
End-term long essay (70%)
Seminar participation (10%)
||Individual essays will be returned with written feedback within 15 working days of submission. Students will receive general verbal feedback on the mid-term essay during a feedback event in class. Students will be encouraged to use office hours to seek individual verbal feedback and to discuss plans for end-term long essay.
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Demonstrate detailed knowledge and a critical understanding of specialised theories, concepts and principles in the history and forefront of anthropology of the environment.
- Evaluate the contributions made by professional anthropologists as internal advisors, independent consultants, or academic critics of environmental conservation projects.
- Develop original and creative responses by applying insights from environmental anthropology to related development, conservation, and human rights issues.
- Engage constructively with others during class debates and online discussions, and exercise substantial autonomy and initiative in individual assessment activities.
- Effectively communicate complex environmental debates, both in the style of an Environmental & Social Impact Assessment (ESIA), and in discursive essay form.
|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.
|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.
|Course organiser||Dr Sophie Haines
Tel: (0131 6)51 1717
|Course secretary||Mr Dave Nicol
Tel: (0131 6)51 1485