Anthropology (ANTH) 335

Ecological Anthropology (Revision 1)

ANTH 335

Revision 1 is closed for registrations, see current revision

Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Science

Prerequisite: ANTH 275 or equivalent.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

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Challenge for Credit: ANTH 335 is not available for Challenge

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This is a third-year course that focuses on important human ecological relationships, through examining ecological principals and thinking (and their limitations), and the interrelationships of environments with cultures and ways of life. The course emphasizes both analyses framed in terms of Western understandings of environmental parameters, and local understandings of environment and environmental relations. This course could also provide a good grounding for ANTH 491 (Ethnobiology) or for ANTH 499 (Medical Anthropology), or courses in Human Geography or Environmental Studies. It would also be useful for students who focus on Archaeology, as it provides a historical examination of human/environment relations, and complements efforts to understand these relationships in archaeological contexts. ANTH 335 also includes contemporary topics in human/environment relationships with a focus on environmental sustainability in the context of climate change and progressive build-up of toxins in global environments.

Course Outline

The course consists of the following ten units.

  • Unit 1: Introduction: What is ecological anthropology?
  • Unit 2: Ecology: Basic concepts and introduction to human ecology
  • Unit 3: Bringing culture together with ecology
  • Unit 4: Ways of making a living without agriculture: hunting, gathering, fishing
  • Unit 5: Ways of making a living: beginnings of food production and horticulture
  • Unit 6: Pastoralism- making a living with animals and dilemmas in a world of boundaries
  • Unit 7: Agricultural Societies
  • Unit 8: Industrial agriculture, urbanized societies and global networks
  • Unit 9: “Sustainability,” “environmentalism,” and contemporary human ecological issues
  • Unit 10: Summary and Review—Ecological perspectives on human social and cultural life

Learning Outcomes

  • To develop a familiarity with relationships of human societies and environments through understanding of human ecology, culture and adaptation
  • To develop a sense of the relationships of economic activities and ecological relationships in a range of human societies


To receive credit for ANTH 335, you must achieve a course composite grade of at least D (50 per cent) and a grade of at least 50 percent on the final examination. The weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

Activity Weighting
Assignment 1
Key Definitions
Assignment 2
Case Study
Assignment 3
Research Paper
Final Exam 40%
Total 100%

The midterm and final examinations for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Sutton, M.Q., & Anderson, E.N. (2010 or 2013). Introduction to cultural ecology. Plymouth, UK; New York: Altamira Press.

Johnson, L.M. (2010). Trail of story, traveller’s path: Reflections on ethnoecology and landscape. Edmonton: AUPress.

Moran, E.F. (2006). People and nature: An introduction to human ecological relations. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing.

Haenn, N., & Wilk, R.R. (2006). The environment in anthropology: A reader in ecology, culture, and sustainable living. New York: New York University Press.

Other Materials

The course materials also include Readings, a Study Guide, and Course Information. The course Moodle site contains links to electronic readings and other resources.

Clay, D.C., & Lewis, L.A. (1990).  Land use, soil loss and sustainable agriculture in Rwanda. Human Ecology 18(2): 147–161.

Crane, S. (1987). Australian Aboriginal subsistence in the Western Desert. Human Ecology 15(4): 391–434.

Fratkin, E., & Roth, E.A. (1990). Drought and economic differentiation among Ariaal Rendille pastoralists of Kenya. Human Ecology 18(4): 385–402.

Lorenzen, R. P., & Lorenzen, S. (2010). Changing realities—Perspectives on Balinese rice cultivation. Human Ecology 39(1).

McCabe, JT., (1990). Turkana pastoralism: A case against the tragedy of the commons. Human Ecology 18(1): 81–103.

Netting, R. (1976). What alpine peasants have in common: Observations on communal tenure in a Swiss village. Human Ecology 4(2): 135–146.

Wooburn, J. (1982). Egalitarian societies. Man (New Series) 17(3): 431–451.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 1, February 19, 2016.