This course name and description ONLY applies to academic year 2021-2022

ANTH 13181-1: Human Impacts and the Environment: Past, Present, & Future

Instructor: Donna Glowacki

It is increasingly apparent that human society is not only profoundly altering the natural world around us, but also is altered by it. This seminar focuses on the complex web of relationships between humans and nature using Environmental Anthropology to understand these relationships. We will debate and analyze the complexities of how environmental change affects the way people live, how we impact the environment, and how decision-making and policies affect our ability to respond and the environmental conditions in general. Most importantly, we will all gain a better understanding of our place in the world around us. This course emphasizes the interconnectedness of people and nature and the importance of historical contingencies in shaping human-environment interactions. Drawing on perspectives from cultural ecology and environmental archaeology, among others, we will critically discuss the human dimensions of global environmental change and will consider a variety of questions including: What is “nature” and how do we define “environment”? What is the value of nature? What is the nature of human-environment interactions and how do perceptions of these relationships vary cross-culturally? Are we always destructive when we obtain the natural resources necessary for our subsistence? What happens when conflict over natural resources arises among different groups of people or there are inequalities in access to these resources? How do constructs like gender, ethnicity, and class affect environmental interactions and how environmental impacts and degradation are experienced?