The 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.
This course will provide a broad introduction to the scientific basis of occupational and environmental health. Content will address issues in the ambient, occupational and global environments as well as the tools, concepts and methods used in environmental health.
GRMN 152/ ANTH 154-401/ENGL 052/ENVS 152/ HIST 152
Climate change transforms the natural and built environments, and it is re-shaping how we understand, make sense, and care for our past. Climate changes history. This course explores the Anthropocene, the age when humans are remaking earth's systems, from an on-water perspective. In on-line dialogue and video conferences with research teams in port cities on four continents, this undergraduate course focuses on Philadelphia as one case study of how rising waters are transfiguring urban history, as well as its present and future. Students projects take them into the archives at the Independence Seaport Museum and at Bartram's Garden. Field trips by boat on the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers and on land to the Port of Philadelphia and to the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge invite transhistorical dialogues about how colonial and then industrial-era energy and port infrastructure transformed the region's vast tidal marshlands wetlands. Excursions also help document how extreme rain events, storms, and rising waters are re-making the built environment, redrawing lines that had demarcated land from water. In dialogue with one another and invited guest artists, writers, and landscape architects, students final projects consider how our waters might themselves be read and investigated as archives. What do rising seas subsume and hold? Whose stories do they tell? What floats to the surface?
FNAR-307 / FNAR-507
Studies of landscape are at the center of multiple fields of fine art making, environmental research, and historical inquiry. Christopher Tilley defines “landscape” as “a holistic term” that frames relationships between living beings and locales, “forming both the medium for, and outcome of, movement and memory.” For interdisciplinary arts practitioners in Philadelphia, the landscape may conjure such relationships at points of convergence: when the physical and symbolic layers of the city lay bare social dynamics, truths, and opportunities for action. Such a range of landmarks – including rivers, gardens, public parks, rowhomes, statues, municipal infrastructure, waste streams, the skyline – are indicative of the deep histories of the region itself, as well as the human-activity that traffics upon it. To produce work about and from Philadelphia is to inherit long-standing questions of civic belonging, make sense of shifting demographic and ecological conditions, and to balance aims for striving and coexistence. Students will pursue group projects and cross-disciplinary independent work, around selected arts and municipal partnerships throughout Philadelphia. Students work will contribute toward a class wide exhibition, as well as collaborations with artists, archives, and organizations. Converging Landscapes – Art, Ecology, and History will be structured as a socially-engaged art praxis civic studio. The course is ideal for students invested in issues of socially-engaged public art, environmental humanities, history, and civic engagement.
FNAR-268/ FNAR-568/ IPD -568
This course is a research-based design studio that introduces new materials, fabrication, and prototyping techniques to develop a series of design proposals in response to the theme: Biological Design. The studio introduces life sciences and biotechnologies to designers, artists, and non-specialists to develop creative and critical propositions that address the social, cultural, and environmental needs of the 21st century. The course will be a pilot study of the first biodesign challenge organized by CUT/PASTE/GROW.
This course will cover contemporary American novels (post-2001) that speak to current environmental crises, such as climate change and widespread toxicity. How do environments emerge as narrative subjects, and how can a novel become a channel for ecological thought? Focusing mostly on realist fiction, we will examine the relation between environmental experience and literary representation of environments. Our primary texts will address hurricanes, plastic waste, industrial dumping, weapons testing, greenhouse gas emissions, the human cost of environmental mismanagement, and other urgent issues. We will also read theoretical writing on ecology by scholars in the humanities. Among our central questions: how is scientific knowledge of today’s environmental crises reshaping the study of literature, and what can literary critics contribute to the climate conversation? Primary texts may include fiction by Don DeLillo, Colson Whitehead, Ruth Ozeki, Ben Lerner, A.S. Byatt, Thomas Pynchon, Jesmyn Ward, Cormac McCarthy, and David Foster Wallace. The Junior Research Seminar introduces students to a range of research methods within the discipline of literary studies. Short research and writing exercises throughout the semester will enable a final scholarly essay of 15 pages.
ANTH 581/ RELS 581
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.
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.
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.