Anthropology 461 Historical Ecology
Fall Quarter 2015
Tuesdays and Thursdays 1:30-3:20, MEB 245

Ben Fitzhugh
Office: 412 Condon
Phone: 206 543-9604
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Steve Harrell
Office: 408 Condon
Phone: 206 755-0071
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How is human history shaped by the physical environment?
How is environmental history shaped by humans?
Are humans inherently destructive to the environment?
Is the conservation crisis a recent development?
Why do civilizations fail?
What is sustainable development?

This class is designed to explore the historical dimension of the environment, human adaptation, and cultural evolution. The class will critically evaluate arguments made in popular texts and the professional literature using archaeological, historical, and ethnographic evidence. We will seek to go below the surface of these accounts by looking at the primary anthropological and historical research that bears on the claims made and to develop a stronger understanding of how environment and culture have co-evolved and influenced each other in the history of human development. In the process students will come to better understand modern human-environmental dynamics as historically situated. Students can expect to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the role of human-environmental interactions in the unfolding of human history, both over long term of human history and the short term of decades and centuries. Case studies will be drawn from around the world.