The Human-Environment Nexus: Contemporary Issues & Critical Approaches - ANTS6210

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2022 to 2023
Spring Term 6 15 (7.5) Judith Bovensiepen checkmark-circle


This module emerges out of the fact that the human-environment nexus has, in recent years, become an area of intense debate and polarisation, both social and intellectual; a space in which many of the core categories within the natural and social sciences- be these the 'nature', ‘society’, ‘humanity’ or indeed ‘life’- are being reconsidered and reconfigured. By engaging with recent debates and case studies from different regions it seeks to critically assess, compare and contrast some of the key contemporary, at times controversial, debates that engage collaborators, colleagues and critics from diverse academic specialties and perspectives. Through the use of lectures, and student-led seminar discussions focused on specific papers and case studies it seeks to review and compare some of concepts and approaches used to research, analyze and theorise the intersecting and mutually constituting material, symbolic, historical, political dimensions of human-plant and human-environment relations. It also seeks to assess how such an understanding can better guide our attempts to address the complex socio-environmental problems facing our world and our future by explicitly addressing the issue of complexity and scale, both in space and over time.


Contact hours



BSc Anthropology and associated programmes
BSc Biological Anthropology and associated programmes
BSc Human Ecology
BSc Human Geography
BSc Wildlife Conservation
BA Social Anthropology and associated programmes
BA Environmental Social Sciences
Also available as an elective module

Method of assessment

Essay (3,000 words) (60%)
Book Review (2000 words) (40%)

Reassessment: 100% coursework

Indicative reading

Cassidy, R. and M. H. Mullin, Eds. (2007). Where the wild things are now: domestication reconsidered. Oxford; New York, Berg.

Goldman, M., et al., Eds. (2011). Knowing Nature conversations at the Intersection of political ecology and science studies. Chicago; London, University of Chicago Press.

Hornborg, Alf, Brett Clark, and Kenneth Hermele. 2012. Ecology and Power: Struggles over Land and Material Resources in the Past, Present, and Future. London: Routledge.

Ingold, T. (2011). Being alive: Essays on movement, knowledge and description. Taylor & Francis.

Kirksey, E., (2015). Emergent ecologies. Duke University Press.

Kopnina, H. and Shoreman-Ouimet, E. eds., (2017). Routledge Handbook of Environmental Anthropology. Rutledge.

Orr, Y. et al. (2015). "Environmental anthropology: systemic perspectives" Annual Review of Anthropology 44: 153-168.

Learning outcomes

8.1 Demonstrate a sound understanding of a number of contemporary issues, perspectives and debates relating to how the human-environment interface is understood and theorised.

8.2 Critically describe and comment on emerging approaches informing environmental anthropology and human ecology, such as environmental humanities, post-humanism, the ontological turn, biosemiotics, the new ecologies, complexity theory, etc.

8.3 Develop an ability to read, think and engage with a challenging range of perspectives, assumptions and languages that characterise the multi-disciplinary and rapidly evolving fields of human ecology and environmental anthropology.

8.4 Understand the critical importance and challenges (epistemic as well as methodological) of considering and addressing issues relating to complexity, multidimensionality, dynamism and scale.

8.5 Apply their insights in a manner that contributes to a clearer, more sophisticated, more comprehensive and coherent understanding of the complex nature of todays' cascading socio-ecological crises.


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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