Environmental Anthropology is an interdisciplinary study that focuses on changing human-environment relationships the world over and throughout time.
This programme offers you the opportunity to acquire advanced knowledge of the dynamics of human-environment relationships in time and space, with a focus on how people both understand and influence the environment. You study issues such as:
• Biocultural diversity
• Ethnobiological knowledge systems
• Historical and Political Ecology
• Multispecies ethnography
• Anthropology and Conservation
• Life in the Anthropocene
• Human adaptation to environmental and climatic change
There is an option to study this programme as an MA or an MSc, with students who opt for the MSc being offered the opportunity to take conservation modules taught by researchers from the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) and the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.
As well as study in the classroom, the programme also offers an extensive range of field trips, which in the past have included:
• The ancient woodland of Blean
• The National Fruit Collection at Brogdale
• The Bird of Prey Centre at Leeds Castle
• The Powell-Cotton Museum
• The Canterbury Cathedral Library
• Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
• The Eden Project
As a graduate of this programme, you will have a range of both practical and evaluative skills, and experience of conducting empirical and applied research. This allows you to pursue doctoral research, or a career in fields as diverse as:
• Environmental policy and management
• Biodiversity conservation
• International journalism
• Environmental advocacy
• Research and Education
• Sustainable development
Why study with us?
- One-year Master's programme
- Innovative teaching methods which provide practical, hands-on learning
- Good range of module choices including conservation modules supported by DICE for those taking the MSc version
- Field trip opportunities including to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the Eden Project, the National Fruit Collection at Brogdale, the Bird of Prey Centre at Leeds Castle and the Powell-Cotton Museum
- Specialist facilities including an Ethnobiology Laboratory which houses the Powell-Cotton collection of plant-based material culture from Southeast Asia
- Links with the Centre for Biocultural Diversity as well as global partners including the Institute of Ecology in Bandung, the Centre for International Forestry Research in Indonesia and the Global Diversity Foundation
- Research-led teaching by an institution specialising in postgraduate training
One year full-time, two years part-time
Knowledge and understanding
You will gain knowledge and understanding of:
- environmental anthropology as the comparative and interdisciplinary study of the relationship between people and their environment
- specific themes in environmental anthropology eg co-evolution of humans and environment, environmental perception, cultural ecology, nature symbolism, environmentalism, political ecology, natural resource use, environmental change
- cultural and biological diversity and an appreciation of its scope
- several ethnographic regions of the world, including north and west Africa, South America, Pacific Islands, South Asia and Southeast Asia (in particular Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines)
- the history of the development of environmental anthropology as a subject
- the variety of theoretical approaches contained within the subject
- the process of biological and socio-cultural change
- the application of environmental anthropology to understanding issues of sustainable social and economic development and environmental conservation throughout the world
- the relevance of environmental anthropology to understanding everyday processes of human-environment interaction anywhere in the world.
You develop intellectual skills in:
- general learning and study skills
- critical and analytical skills
- expression of ideas both orally and in written form
- communication skills
- groupwork skills
- computing skills
- reviewing and summarising information
- data retrieval ability.
You gain subject-specific skills in:
- the ability to understand how people are shaped by their social, cultural and physical environments while nonetheless possessing a capacity for individual agency which can allow them to transcend some environmental constraints
- the ability to recognise the pertinence of an environmental anthropological perspective to understanding major national and international events.
- the ability to interpret texts and performance by locating them within appropriate cultural and historical contexts
- high-level competence in using environmental anthropological theories and perspectives in the presentation of information and argument
- high-level ability to identify and analyse the significance of the social and cultural contexts of natural resource use
- the ability to devise questions for research and study which are anthropologically informed
- the ability to perceive the way in which cultural assumptions may affect the perception and use of natural resources
- an openness to try and make rational sense of human-environment interactions that may appear at first sight incomprehensible.
You will gain the following transferable skills:
- the ability to make a structured argument
- the ability to make appropriate reference to scholarly data
- time-management skills
- the use of information technology including computers and library research
- handling audio-visual equipment
- independent research
- presentation skills
- have the ability to exercise initiative and personal responsibility
- have the independent learning ability required for continuing professional development.
This programme aims to:
- to provide you with a broad range of knowledge in environmental anthropology, a major sub-division of anthropology, showing how it is closely linked to other academic disciplines
- to provide you with advanced level knowledge of the theoretical, methodological and policy issues relevant to understanding the subdiscipline
- introduce you to a variety of different approaches to environmental anthropology research, presented in a multidisciplinary context and at an advanced level
- facilitate your educational experience through the provision of appropriate pedagogical opportunities for learning
- provide an appropriate training if you are preparing MPhil/PhD theses, or if you are going on to employment involving the use of research methods and results in environmental anthropology
- make you aware of the range of existing material available and equip you to evaluate its utility for your research
- cover the principles of research design and strategy, including formulating research questions or hypotheses and translating them into practicable research designs.
- introduce you to the philosophical, theoretical and ethical issues surrounding research and to debates about the relationship between theory and research, about problems of evidence and inference, and about the limits to objectivity.
- develop your skills in searching for and retrieving information, using library and internet resources in a multidisciplinary and cross-national context.
- introduce you to the idea of working with other academic and non-academic agencies, when appropriate, and give you the skills to carry out collaborative research.
- develop your skills in writing, in the preparation of a research proposal, in the analysis and presentation of research results and in verbal communication
- help you to prepare your research results for wider dissemination, in the form of seminar papers, conference presentations, reports and publications, in a form suitable for a range of different audiences, including academics, policymakers, professionals, service users and the general public.
- give you an appreciation of the potentialities and problems of environmental anthropological research in local, regional, national and international settings
- ensure that the research of the Department’s staff informs the design of modules, and their content and delivery in ways that can achieve the national benchmarks of the subject in a manner which is efficient and reliable, and enjoyable to students.