Universität Wien
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240518 SE Anthropology and the Environment: Thinking about and thinking through the environment (P4) (2020W)

Continuous assessment of course work

Participation at first session is obligatory!

The lecturer can invite students to a grade-relevant discussion about partial achievements. Partial achievements that are obtained by fraud or plagiarized result in the non-evaluation of the course (entry 'X' in certificate). The plagiarism software 'Turnitin' will be used for courses with continuous assessment.


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


max. 20 participants
Language: English


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Update 11.12.2020: Due to the current Covid-19 Situation the course will change to digital till the end of the semester.

It is planned to hold the seminar as a course based on physical attendance. Any changes caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus will be communicated via Moodle and u: space.

Monday 12.10. 13:15 - 16:30 Seminarraum D, NIG 4. Stock
Wednesday 28.10. 13:15 - 16:30 Übungsraum (A414) NIG 4. Stock
Monday 09.11. 13:15 - 16:30 Digital
Monday 30.11. 13:15 - 16:30 Digital
Monday 11.01. 13:15 - 16:30 Digital
Monday 25.01. 13:15 - 16:30 Digital


Aims, contents and method of the course


The course aims to provide a comprehensive overview and critical discussion of the subject of ‘the environment’ in academic anthropology and applied anthropology. We will learn how anthropology helps us understand the pressing environmental questions and issues of our time.


‘The environment’ has become a dominant figure in our daily lives, the media and academic pursuits alike. What can anthropology teach us about contemporary human-environmental relations and environmental problems and their solutions? In this seminar we will focus on contemporary anthropological modes of approaching the environment: the modes of thinking about and thinking through the environment. We approach the two modes from different theoretical, methodological and ethnographic perspectives. We investigate what people around the world are conceiving as ‘nature’ and ‘humans’ and ‘non-humans’ by examining how people in different social and cultural environments imagine, exercise and value the relationship between humans and non-humans (like plants, animals, mountains, rivers). Related to that we will deal with questions such as: What difference does it make if humans place themselves as part within or as counterpart of ‘the environment’? Under which circumstances do people claim or, on the contrary, unsettle the central place and position of humans in the environment? What knowledge can we trace from that about power issues in human-environmental relationships? How are particular human - non-human relationships related to environmental (in)justice and social (in)equity on global and regional scales? How could we rethink many of the concepts and ideals that have been central to Western modernity and values which are constitutive of the current deep environmental crisis?


We will draw on a broad range of ethnographic and methodological illustrations of human-environment relations in different parts of the world and anthropological theories proposed for grasping the relations. The teacher will provide a sound introduction to the seminar topic. Students will regularly read texts, give oral presentations, comment on texts and oral presentations and films, participate in the discussions and write a final seminar paper .We will learn to critically engage with the respective approaches, discuss their particular relevance, strengths and weaknesses by relating them to anthropological academic discourses and applied anthropology alike.

Assessment and permitted materials

Regular attendance
Active participation in discussions
Oral presentations and comments on others’ presentations
Oral and written comments on selected texts
Final written seminar paper

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

Course Requirements and Grading

Regular attendance in class, active participation in discussions and completion of all readings is expected. (10 % of grade).
Students will write commentaries on selected texts (20 %)
Students will present critical discussions of texts and comment on others’ presentations. (20 %)
Students will submit a final written seminar paper (5000 words) (50 %).

Deadline of submission of final seminar paper: By mid-March 2021.

Participation at first session is obligatory!

Examination topics

All oral and written performances.

Reading list

TBA in class

Association in the course directory

Last modified: Fr 12.05.2023 00:21