Reflection Essays: For 10% of your course grade, respond as thoroughly yet succinctly to the following questions in short essays of 2-3 pages in length. You may prepare this beforehand (if so, be sure the essays are typed, and turn them in as hard copy at the final) or write during the final exam period.
2. What are the three biggest take-away points/insights you've gained from this introductory human ecology
course? From the first day of class, when you offered your generally optimistic/pessimistic stance on the human
ecological situation, to the closing Going Local- and Catton-inspired discussions, in what ways do you think this course has influenced you, both generally (e.g., worldview, knowledge base) as well as specifically (e.g., career/major choice, life plans)? What can you do? What might you do? What will you do?
*So just look at my syllabus and see what are the three insight you would gain if you have taken this class. Also, at the first day of class, I put myself as pessimistic stance on the human
ecological situation. So just talk about how it would influenced you and talk about what you would do. Just use writer's own opinion is fine.
Below is my syllabus talked about what our class was about.
Course Description: ?Social scientific findings and ways of understanding humanity?s place in nature and our current ecological predicament; causes and consequences (environmental, demographic, economic, political and cultural) or humankind?s transition from food foraging to Neolithic and now industrial adaptive strategies; scientific, policy and cultural implications and aspects of these changes and interactions through case studies at global, regional and local scales. $60 lab fee.?
This stripped-down course description captures only the bare essence of this wide-ranging course, in which we will examine human
universals and particulars from both evolutionary and ecological perspectives.
1) Taking a cultural evolutionary perspective means viewing humanity as a species with a long history of adjusting to life on this planet, with culture as our main adaptive ?tool?. Our ways of organizing ourselves and thinking about our situations have a history?a long history; our current social and cultural arrangements are to some degree shaped by this long cultural evolutionary experience. How much of this experience is coded in our bodies genetically, and therefore affects our lives now, is a fascinating, open, and hotly debated question.
2) Taking a cultural ecological perspective means viewing human
social behavior and cultural systems of meaning and symbols through the lens of how human
groups have adjusted to making a living in different biomes with different technologies (food foraging, herding, horticulture, agriculture, agro-industrial). The guiding idea is that the ways people organize themselves and make sense of the world are adjusted?adapted, to the material circumstances in which they find themselves, often in ways that may not be immediately apparent.
Armed with these twin perspectives on the human
condition, we can make some headway on three broad sets of issues:
1) understanding how humans
have dealt with organizational and subsistence problems in the past, from foraging through the neolithic transition to the growth of agrarian and now industrial civilizations, and what the consequences (mostly unintended) of these decisions and changes have been and meant;
2) the changing place of humanity in earth?s environments, focusing on human
population and technological growth and the nature of the converging crises of resource constraints (energy, water, food) and climate change now facing humanity; and,
3) perhaps most importantly, what intelligent assessments can we make of humans
? ability to adapt to such a resource-constrained future? What futures are possible under intensifying energy, resource and demographic constraints? Are you optimistic or pessimistic about humanity?s chances? Why?
To accomplish these lofty goals requires us to connect broad processes with on-the-ground lived reality, both now and in the past. Our readings will be fundamental for helping us grasp these macro-micro connections, and together, prepare us to conclude the course by focusing on how sustainable our own activities are here in our own place on the planet in the northern Willamette Valley.
1) Jared Diamond?s ?Guns, Germs and Steel? tackles socio-cultural differences by taking a long view of human
adaptation and change, in what he describes as ?a short history of everybody for the last 13,000 years.?
2) Lee Cronk?s ?That Complex Whole? helps us conceptualize and make better sense of this mass of material, exploring humanity?s dual culture and genes inheritance system by examining basic concepts and theories as they developed in anthropology and related fields
3) Dan Bates? ?Human
Adaptive Strategies? lays out the basic ecological and evolutionary frameworks; drawing from specific case studies he examines humanity by means of a conventionally-used framework of five basic subsistence, or adaptive strategies.
This course is vitally linked with other courses not only in Anthropology and Environmental Studies, but also in the general liberal arts curriculum at Linfield.
1) In relation to Anthropology, Human
Adaptive Strategies provides linked vantage points from which to organize data on humanity?s social and cultural similarities and differences. The course covers a range of issues very near the center of an ?older? anthropology, one concerned both with specific ways human
beings have adapted to the material, environmental constraints present in the places they live as well as with the overall course of human
history. This implied a strong focus on adaptation ? how human
groups have made a living in Earth?s varied environments. While reaction to the adaptationist approach has taken many, often useful forms over the ensuing 150 years, it remains a central organizing framework in anthropology.
Emerging in the mid-nineteenth century, with the Darwinian revolution in biology in the air, anthropology crystallized as a field of inquiry around the evolutionary origins and ?progress toward civilization? of humankind. In this vein, one thread through our anthropology curriculum at Linfield is a four-course ?sequence? examining the long record of human
history on the planet, from our rise as a species to the complex globalizing system we now inhabit. These four courses include:
- ANTH/BIOL 105 Human
Biology and Evolution examines remote human
origins and the rise of the hominid lineage, leading to the emergence of our genus and species;
- ANTH 112 Archaeology and World Prehistory examines the diversification of humanity in the late Paleolithic and early Neolithic in both the Old and New Worlds, up to the beginnings of more complex, post-tribal forms of social organization;
- ANTH/ENVS 203 (this course) covers human ecology
and picks up the cultural evolution thread in examining small scale foraging and horticultural societies and the record of state-building and socio-cultural evolution from the earliest pre-industrial states to the beginnings of the modern world system (and it also examines current environmental problems as humanity reaches planetary limits to growth);
- SOAN 350 Global Political Economy: Social and Cultural Perspectives examines the history and dynamics of the modern world system, which emerged about 1500 with European expansion and conquest in the New World and elsewhere in the Old World.
2) In relation to Environmental Studies, this course stands astride the chasm between the natural sciences, particularly biology, and the social sciences, particularly anthropology. In sharing the adaptation and evolutionary emphases of biology, it provides a very useful framework to make sense of similarities and differences between our and other species? relationships with each other and the bio-physical environment of our planet. The course builds on issues examined in ENVS 201, and satisfies requirements in both the Science and Policy tracks of the ENVS Major, as well as portions of the ENVS Minor. The course provides a set of very useful concepts and frameworks for making sense of humanity?s environmental predicament.
3) Finally, being so highly interdisciplinary, Human
Adaptive Strategies contributes to the general liberal arts goals of helping develop an informed, aware citizenry cognizant of the multifaceted nature of the human
condition. Knowing what humans
have attempted across cultures and ways we?ve achieved sustainable social arrangements over time informs our current attempts to foster sustainability and thereby transmit a diverse civilization and a living planet to our descendants.
Linfield Curriculum. ANTH/ENVS 203 meets the Individuals, Systems and Societies (IS) or Global Pluralisms (GP) portion of the Linfield Curriculum. Remember, you are responsible for uploading an exemplar from this course to meet the appropriate LC learning goals.
Courses with an (IS) designation are intended to provide students with opportunities to:
- Understand individual, systemic, and/or social processes. ANTH/ENVS 203 has as its core mission the examination of interconnections among environmental and human
cultural, political, social, economic and other processes using human
ecology?s holistic, synthetic perspective.
- Analyze individuals, systems, and/or societies through multiple frames of reference. The importance of scale (place, region, world) is central to framing, understanding and resolving human
- Articulate how key theoretical principles can be used to explain individual and social processes, inform public policy and/or develop practical approaches to human
problems across local, regional, and/or global contexts. Students explore human
-environment relations through reading and written work at the global, regional and nation-state levels.
Students taking courses with the Global Pluralisms (GP) designation will have opportunities to:
- Develop a better understanding of the issues of identity, politics, culture, history, religion, health care, and/or economics in a context of a culture other than that of the United States. Close examination of ethnographic material from diverse parts of the world is central to understanding human
- Interrogate issues of colonialism, dominance, hegemony, and control by examining the social, economic, business, and/or political relationships that formerly colonized countries share with their imperial sites. Students in ANTH/ENVS 203 focus directly on the nature and consequences of the spread of colonial powers in the emergence and maturation of the modern world system, especially through close examination of the Jared Diamond text.
- Examine the impact of globalization and interdependence of cultures and economies on the lives of individuals. Students conclude the course by reading about the effects on small scale societies of globalization trends and pressures, often examining these (though not required to) in their team project work.
Texts: We?ll work through four principal texts, all available in the college bookstore:
Bates, Daniel [BATES]
Adaptive Strategies: Ecology
, Culture, and Politics, 3rd ed. NY: Allyn & Bacon.
Catton, William [CATTON]
1980 Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change. Urbana, IL: Univ. of Illinois Pr.
Cronk, Lee [CRONK]
1999 That Complex Whole: Culture and the Evolution of Human
Behavior. Boulder, CO:
Diamond, Jared [DIAMOND]
1999 Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human
Societies. NY: W.W. Norton & Co.
We will also explore a number of reserve readings online and/or on reserve at Nicholson Library (shown as /R on the syllabus), as well as possibly some other readings emerging from your work.
The 4 books above is what we had read during the course and here is a couple reading that we have to read during the course.
[Friedman ?The Earth is Full?
[Brown ?The New Geopolitics of Food?
[Greer, John Michael 2009 ?Entropy Gets No Respect?
Heinberg, Richard 2009 ?Temporary Recession or the End of Growth??
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