Universität Wien FIND

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, changes to courses and exams may be necessary at short notice. Inform yourself about the current status on u:find and check your e-mails regularly.

Please read the information on https://studieren.univie.ac.at/en/info.

Warning! The directory is not yet complete and will be amended until the beginning of the term.

240519 SE Anthropology and the Environment: Thinking about and thinking through the environment (P4) (2018W)

Continuous assessment of course work

Participation at first session is obligatory!


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


max. 25 participants
Language: English


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Wednesday 10.10. 15:00 - 18:15 Seminarraum D, NIG 4. Stock
Wednesday 31.10. 15:00 - 18:15 Seminarraum D, NIG 4. Stock
Wednesday 14.11. 15:00 - 18:15 Seminarraum D, NIG 4. Stock
Wednesday 28.11. 15:00 - 18:15 Seminarraum D, NIG 4. Stock
Wednesday 12.12. 15:00 - 18:15 Seminarraum D, NIG 4. Stock
Wednesday 16.01. 15:00 - 18:15 Seminarraum D, NIG 4. Stock


Aims, contents and method of the course


This 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 examine contemporary anthropological modes of approaching the environment: the modes of thinking about and thinking through the environment. Through the first mode we learn how ‘the environment’ is differently defined, experienced and perceived around the world: How do humans conceive of ‘nature’, the landscape, the weather and the atmosphere and engage with it in order to make their environment and lives meaningful? Which ideas related to ‘the environment’ are globally circulating and what are the consequences in various localities? What role do gender, race, and class play in our engagement with the environment? What significance do cosmologies, religion and spirituality have?
Questions like these lead to a critical examination of the origins and persistence of the very category of the ‘environment’ or ‘nature’. They touch essential anthropological categories and issues such as what people around the world are conceiving as human and non-human and how they imagine and value the relationship between humans and non-humans (like plants, animals).
In fact, putting the current deep environmental changes on center stage requires us to rethink many of the concepts and ideals that have been central to Western modernity and values. This current unsettling of ideas about ‘the environment’ and of the central place and position of humans in it has heralded another mode called 'thinking through the environment'. This mode has led to searching for new theoretical and methodological approaches and new genres of writing which we will also critically examine.

We will draw on a broad range of illustrations of human-environment relations in different parts of the world by lectures (held by the teacher), regular readings of selected texts, discussions, oral presentations, written and oral commentaries, and films.
We will 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
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 (15 %)
Students will orally present critical discussions of texts and comment on the respective presentations. (20 %)
Students will submit a final written seminar paper (5000 words) (55 %).
Deadline of submission: By mid-March 2019.

First meeting: 10.10. 2018 Participation at first session is obligatory!

Examination topics

Presentations, written comments and papers, engagement in discussions

Reading list

TBA in class

Association in the course directory

Last modified: Mo 07.09.2020 15:40