Fall 2018

ANTH 581/ RELS 581

Timothy Powell

Wednesday, 2:00PM-5:00PM

We are living in a moment of Environmental crisis as the oceans rise and carbon emissions warm the planet. And yet more than half the US population believes climate change will not harm them personally and 30% feel they cannot trust science. As the standoff at Standing Rock and the #NoDapl movement made clear, Native Americans' spirituality is playing a central role in galvanizing the public and providing alternative narratives to capitalist consumption. Students will work on ongoing projects to build partnerships between Penn and two Native American communities-- Sitting Bull College on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in South Dakota and a UNESCO World Heritage Site nomination submitted by Ojibwe First Nations in Canada to preserve 24,000 sq. kms. of boreal forest through the use of Traditional Ecological Knowledge. This class will learn to build multi-media exhibits using Scalar, Omeka, Google Earth, and StoryMap. No previous experience is necessary. Students will learn about choosing a platform, creating dynamic narratives that incorporate videos and interactive features, and learning about grant writing in order to sustain digital projects and benefit Indigenous communities. Although the emphasis will be on practical applications or praxis, the course will also engage with new theories from the fields of Digital Humanities and Environmental Humanities as a basis for building new exhibits.

Fall 2018

ANTH 311-401

Campbell Grey

Lauren Ristvet

Tuesday/Thursday, 10:30AM-12:00PM

Natural disasters occupy a powerful place in our imagination. Stories of floods, plagues, earthquakes and storms excite and horrify us and communities mobilize their resources quickly in response to these events. In the ancient Mediterranean world, natural disasters could take on potent meaning, indicating the anger or disfavor of the gods, acting as warnings against certain courses of action, or confirmations of individuals' fears or suspicions about the world in which they lived. In this course, we explore the evidence for some disasters in the ancient Mediterranean world, the ways in which contemporaries reacted to those disasters and interpreted their causes. This project is, of necessity, multidisciplinary, involving textual, archaeological, geological, and comparative materials and drawing on methodologies from history, political and archaeological science, and the emerging field of disaster studies. In the process, we will gain an appreciation of the social structures of communities in the period, the thought-world in which they operated, and the challenges and opportunities that attend a project of this sort. No prior knowledge of Ancient History is required, although it would be useful to have taken an introductory survey course. Texts will be discussed in translation.

Fall 2018

ANTH 211-401

Theodore Schurr

Tuesday/Thursday, 1:30PM-3:00PM

In this course, we will explore the molecular revolution in biological anthropology. In particular, we will examine how molecular data can be used to illuminate anthropological question concerning human origins, evolution and biological variation. Some of the specific topics to be covered in this course are the phylogenetic relationships among primates, kinship in apes and monkeys, the hominoid trichotomy, modern human origins and migrations, Neanderthal and Denisovan admixture with modern humans, biogenetics of skin color, and physiological, phenotypic and disease adaptations.

Fall 2018

ANTH 211-401

Allison Covey

Monday/Wednesday, 2:00PM-3:30PM

This class will introduce the overlaps between religion and ecology. Rather than assuming that there is a necessary positive or negative relationship between religion and ecology, we will look at how these relationships have materialized in complicated ways at different moments in history. We'll consider perspectives and case studies from a range of different moments in history. We'll consider perspectives and case studies from a range of different traditions, with a special attention paid to the genesis of the field of Religion and Ecology in critiques of Christian attitudes toward the environment in the 1960s and 1970s.
Fall 2018

ANTH 134-001

Mark Lycett

Tuesday/Thursday, 12:00PM-1:30PM

What are the limits of nature? When do natural systems become human or socio-natural systems? In this course, we examine the human construction of nature both conceptually, through ideas about environment, ecosystem, organism, and ecology; and materially, through trajectories of direct action in and on the landscape. Beginning with a consideration of foundational concepts in human ecology, we will discuss current problems and approaches, centering on political ecology. Readings and case studies are drawn from human-environmental contexts in Oceania, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, Europe, and North America. We will also consider topics including a) the relationship between indigenous and technocratic knowledge and resource governance, b) environmental movements themselves as objects of ethnographic study; c) justice and sustainability as environmental goals; d) inequality, displacement and violence as environmental problems; and e) fair trade and food security or sovereignty.

ANTH 134 Flyer

Fall 2018


Monday/Wednesday 1:00-2:00PM

This course is an introductory survey of the environmental humanities and social sciences. It draws on scholarship and methods in environmental history, anthropology, sociology, philosophy, and literary studies to address the causes, contexts, and consequences of domestication, urbanization, industrialization, pollution, extinction, climate change, and other subjects--all of which are simultaneously the product of long, complex histories and areas of recent, dramatic, and sometimes even catastrophic change. Readings in historical sources are combined with present-day case studies, including some focused on the Philadelphia region. 

Fall 2018


Wednesday, 3:30pm-6:30PM

The idea of solving problems by collecting as much data as possible about them is an old dream that has recently been revitalized with the help of new technologies and new ways of organizing knowledge production. This course examines the hunger for data from a historical and social perspective, seeking to understand when, why, and how the collection of vast amounts of data has come to seem valuable and desirable, sometimes in ways that exceed any reasonable expectation of utility or feasibility. Topics include state surveillance, online tracking, the quantified self, citizen science, civic hacking, human genomics, bioinformatics, and climate modeling.

Fall 2018

ENGL 016.302 (Freshman seminar)

Paul Saint-Amour

Monday/Wednesday, 2:00-3:30PM

Whether you call it climatological science-fiction or #clifi, speculative fiction about anthropogenic climate change is becoming an important site for thinking, feeling, and warning about earth’s changing environments. In this class we’ll study a cluster of recent cli-fi novels that project a variety of climate scenarios—apocalyptic, utopian, and everything in between—into the future. We’ll also look at earlier fictions that explore humanity’s entanglement with non-human beings and environments, as well as at fictions that connect climate change in the present with scarce-resources, conflict, displacement, and environmental racism. Supplementary readings in the environmental humanities will introduce terms and concepts such as the Anthropocene, deep time, the great acceleration, the nonhuman turn, and climate justice. 


Fall 2018

PHIL-226 (Penn Global Seminar)

Michael Weisberg

Tuesday/Thursday, 12:00-1:30PM

This course consists of a detailed examination of evolutionary theory and its philosophical foundations. The course begins with a consideration of Darwin's formulation of evolutionary theory and the main influences on Darwin. We will then consider two contemporary presentations of the theory: Richard Dawkins' and Richard Lewontin's. The remainder of the course will deal with a number of foundational issues including adaptation, the units of selections, the evolution of altruism, and the possibility of grounding ethics in evolutionary theory.

Fall 2018

ANTH 110-401

Emily Hammer

Tuesday/Thursday, 10:30AM-12:00PM

Water in the Middle East Throughout HistoryThe role of water in the Middle East cannot be overstated. The Middle East is an arid region, but human and natural systems have interacted to determine relative water scarcity and abundance at different times and places. The location, accessibility, yield, and quality of natural and managed water resources significantly influenced the location and longevity of ancient and modern settlements. Control of water has always affected the economic, political, social life of the communities inhabiting these settlements. This course examines the distribution of water resources throughout the Middle East and the archaeology and anthropology of water exploitation and management over the last 9000 years. It will consider water in river valleys, deserts, highland zones, steppes, and coastal areas of Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Levant, and Arabia from environmental, political, social, cultural, and technical perspectives. We will engage with a variety of media, including academic readings, popular journalism, films, satellite imagery, and digital maps. We will examine irrigation, water supply, sanitation, and water-driven power systems known from ethnographic studies and archaeological excavations. These data will allow us to engage with debates in Middle Eastern anthropology, including those concerning the relationship between water and political power, the environment in which the earliest cities arose, and present and potential future water crises and "water wars." In our final weeks, we will discuss archaeology and historical anthropology's contribution to conceptions of water "sustainability" and examine attempts to revive traditional and ancient technologies in an effort to better manage modern water resources.

Fall 2018