Universität Wien FIND

240522 SE Anthropology and the Environment: Thinking about and thinking through the environment (P4) (2021W)

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 12.01.2022: Due to the current situation the course will be held digital until the end of the semester.
Update 13.12.2021: The course will be held digital until December 17.
Update 22.11.2021: The course will be held in a digital format during lockdown (22 Nov. - 12 Dec.) .
It is planned to hold the seminar on site at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology. "3 G" (vaccinated against or tested for or recovered from COVID-19) is required for physical presence. Depending on the COVID-19 situation changes into a digital course will be announced via Moodle.

Thursday 02.12. 15:00 - 18:15 Digital
Thursday 09.12. 15:00 - 18:15 Digital
Thursday 16.12. 15:00 - 18:15 Digital
Thursday 13.01. 15:00 - 18:15 Digital
Thursday 20.01. 15:00 - 18:15 Digital
Thursday 27.01. 15:00 - 18:15 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. 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 about power issues in human-environmental relationships can we trace from that? 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 regions 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 films, actively 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.
The online platform Moodle will be used as a supplementary tool.

Assessment and permitted materials

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

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

Regular attendance in class, active participation in discussions and completion of all readings is expected. (10 points).
Students will write commentaries on selected texts (20 points)
Students will present critical discussions of texts and comment on presentations. (20 points)
Students will submit a final written seminar paper (5000 words) (50 points at most).
Deadline of submission of final seminar paper: By mid-March 2022.
Participation at first session is obligatory!

Overall grading:
1 (sehr gut) = 100-89 points
2 (gut) = 88-76 points
3 (befriedigend) = 75-63 points
4 (genügend) = 62-50 points
5 (nicht genügend) = 49-0 points

Examination topics

All oral and written partial performances.
All performances must be positively met for a positive grading.

Reading list

Descola, Philippe (2013). Beyond Nature and Culture. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Hastrup, Kirsten (Ed.) (2013). Anthropology and Nature. New York & London: Routledge
Ingold, Tim (2000). The Perception of the Environment: Essays in Livelihood, Dwelling, and Skill. Londond & New York: Routledge.
Kohn, Eduardo (2013). How Forests Think: Toward an Anthropology Beyond the Human. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Kopnina, Helen and Eleanor Shoreman-Ouimet (Eds.) (2013). Environmental Anthropology. Future Directions. Routledge.
Milton, Kay (1997). Ecologies: anthropology, culture and the environment. International Social Science Journal 49(154): 477–495.
Orlove, Ben/Wiegandt, Ellen/Luckman, Brian H. (Eds.) (2008). Darkening Peaks: Glacier Retreat, Science, and Society. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
Strauss, Sarah/Orlove, Benjamin S. (Eds.) (2003). Weather, Climate, Culture. Oxford and New York: Berg.

Association in the course directory

Last modified: Th 23.03.2023 00:23