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Human Ecology

Code: 101271 ECTS Credits: 6
Degree Type Year Semester
2500256 Social and Cultural Anthropology OT 3 1
2500256 Social and Cultural Anthropology OT 4 1
2504235 Science, Technology and Humanities OT 4 1


Hugo Valenzuela Garcia

Use of Languages

Principal working language:
spanish (spa)
Some groups entirely in English:
Some groups entirely in Catalan:
Some groups entirely in Spanish:


Sara Maestre Andres
Sandrine Laure Gallois

External teachers

Álvaro Fernández Llamazares


No previous course is required, but notions of Economic Anthropology and History of Anthropology are recommended

Objectives and Contextualisation

The objectives of the course are:

  • To know the programmatic set of theoretical contributions and studies of classic ethnographic cases of Ecological Anthropology in its thematic and historical spheres.
  • To learn some basic contributions from the most prominent figures in this field - their theoretical, methodological and ethnographic contributions.
  • To know first-hand some current and contemporary ethnographic works that are being carried out by scientists and researchers, as well as the most relevant problems (ICTA and Department of Anthropology).
  • To analyse the reality between nature and culture from a multidisciplinary approach (ecology, anthropology, etc.)


    Social and Cultural Anthropology
  • Apprehending cultural diversity through ethnography and critically assessing ethnographic materials as knowledge of local contexts and as a proposal of theoretical models.
  • Carry out effective written work or oral presentations adapted to the appropriate register in different languages.
  • Demonstrate skills for working autonomously or in teams to achieve the planned objectives including in multicultural and interdisciplinary contexts.
  • Introduce changes in the methods and processes of the field of knowledge to provide innovative responses to the needs and demands of society.
  • Producing cultural diversity materials that could have a critical impact on the common sense conceptions.
  • Students must be capable of applying their knowledge to their work or vocation in a professional way and they should have building arguments and problem resolution skills within their area of study.
  • Students must be capable of collecting and interpreting relevant data (usually within their area of study) in order to make statements that reflect social, scientific or ethical relevant issues.
  • Students must demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the history of anthropological theory and the genesis of its basic concepts.
  • Take account of social, economic and environmental impacts when operating within one's own area of knowledge.
  • Use digital tools and critically interpret specific documentary sources.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Analysing a contemporary fact from an anthropological perspective.
  2. Analysing data critically from anthropological investigations and reports.
  3. Applying the knowledge of cultural variability and its genesis to avoid ethnocentric projections.
  4. Assess the reliability of sources, select important data and cross-check information.
  5. Enumerating the theories about human species in their relation to society and culture production.
  6. Explaining the disciplinary developments and current interdisciplinary tendencies from the critique to the nature/culture Cartesian dichotomy.
  7. Explaining the work's results narratively in accordance with the critical standards of discipline and bearing in mind the different target audiences.
  8. Express ideas with a specific vocabulary appropriate to the discipline.
  9. Identifying the contemporary interdisciplinary tendencies shared by the Anthropology and social disciplines related to the corresponding field.
  10. Identifying the recent disciplinary developments and the correlation between the anthropological theory and the social disciplines related in their historical development and the current interdisciplinary tendencies.
  11. Identifying the various relationship processes between human populations and their environment.
  12. Interpreting the cultural diversity through ethnography.
  13. Knowing and understanding the culture's influence in the various institutional systems of environmental intervention.
  14. Knowing the evolutionary aspect of contemporary human diversity.
  15. Plan work effectively, individually or in groups, in order to fulfil the planned objectives.
  16. Producing materials related to the human population-environment relationships that may have a critical impact on the political and common sense conceptions in their respective fields.
  17. Propose new experience-based methods or alternative solutions.
  18. Propose new ways to measure the success or failure of the implementation of innovative proposals or ideas.
  19. Propose ways to evaluate projects and actions for improving sustainability.
  20. Recognising the cultural nature of nature and society conceptualizations.
  21. Summarizing the acquired knowledge about the relationship between nature, culture and society.


MODULE 1 (Hugo Valenzuela), presents the basis of Ecological Anthropology and proposes definitions, historical precedents and main currents (Boasian particularism, neo-evolutionism, cultural ecology, ethnoecology, post-structuralism, anthropology of disasters ... .). Case studies and classic ethnographic examples will be presented. Keywords: theory, cultural ecology, neo-evolutionism. Methodology: presentation of theories, readings and debate. Evaluation: multiple choice of theoretical contents.

MODULE 2. (Álvaro Fernández-Llamazares) addresses ethnobiology, an intrinsically interdisciplinary field focused on understanding the dynamic relationships between humans and the rest of the natural world. The historical precedents of the discipline, its theoretical and methodological development, and its contributions to interweaving the intermediate spaces between cultural anthropology, conservation biology, and historical ecology will be presented. Key issues for the discipline will be examined, such as the concept of biocultural diversity, the processes of change and continuity in indigenous knowledge systems, or the transition towards a decolonized, just and anti-oppressive ethnobiology. Keywords: biocultural diversity, indigenous knowledge, decolonization. Methodology: master classes, videos of indigenous activists and academics, and ethical dilemmas to discuss in groups. Evaluation: essay in relation to one of the ethical dilemmas presented in class.

MÒDUL 4 (Sara Maestre) aborda l'ecologia política de la conservació de la biodiversitat. S'explica l'evolució històrica d'una de les polítiques de conservació principals, les àrees protegides, els diferents models i la conceptualització implícita que representen de la relació naturalesa-societat així com els conflictes socials que generen. També s'examinen les noves polítiques de mercat aplicades a la conservació de la biodiversitat prenent com a exemple els bancs de conservació i se n'analitzen les idees conceptuals principals. S'aborden les controvèrsies que generen en termes de replantejament de la relació societat-naturalesa, la pràctica de la conservació i la seva mercantilització. Es presenten estudis de cas. Paraules clau: ecologia política de la conservació de la biodiversitat, àrees protegides, conservació neoliberal, bancs de conservació. Metodologia: classes magistrals sobre conceptes claus, classes amb dinàmiques participatives que fomentin el debat. Avaluació: avaluació tipus test.

MODULE 5 (Sandrine Gallois) approaches ethno-ecology from the exploration of local ecological knowledge: what it means, what it is, how it is studied, and how it is integrated both in the academic world and in political decisions. A sample of existing methodologies is provided to study these LEKs that integrate different bodies of knowledge (scientific, local, indigenous, artistic...). Keywords: ethnomethodology, LEK, knowledge, etc. Methodology: theoretical and practical classes. Evaluation: dynamic activity or readings.


Methodology includes readings, presentations, lectures and practice (exercices).

Annotation: Within the schedule set by the centre or degree programme, 15 minutes of one class will be reserved for students to evaluate their lecturers and their courses or modules through questionnaires.


Title Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Type: Directed      
Research presentations dessign 22 0.88 2, 1, 3, 13, 14, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 9, 12, 16, 20, 21
Theory (lectures) 30 1.2 2, 1, 3, 13, 14, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 9, 12, 16, 20, 21
Type: Supervised      
Teamwork 44 1.76 2, 1, 3, 13, 14, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 9, 12, 16, 20, 21
Type: Autonomous      
Readings 30 1.2 2, 1, 3, 13, 14, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 9, 12, 16, 20, 21


Particular notice for foreign (exchange and Erasmus) students: It is YOUR RESPONSABILITY to be informed about the assessment, principles and norms of this course. This information IS NOT NEGOTIABLE. 

Percentage of evaluations:

30% - theoretical test about the content of the course (modules)

40% - Practices or final activities of each module: evaluation is pass/ not pass These activities are not recoverable.

30% - Work and exhibition of monograph by groups: about an author (20%) and presentation in class in a group (20%) In order to be evaluable, a student must have done (do not need to approve) 2/3 of the system 'evaluation.


The qualifications and results of continuous evaluation will be reviewed in class only. In exceptional and justified cases it will be allocated a tutorial or specific space for the reviews of continuous tests.

To be evaluated, the student must pass 2/3 of the course and obtain an average greater than 5 in the different evaluation tests carried out. If the student does not pass 1/3 of the course, it will be NOT EVALUABLE.

The final grade will be communicated on the virtual campus individually and a grade review session will be scheduled, as well as a re-evaluation, if applicable. Outside of these scheduled dates, or channels, no claims or reviews will be dealt with. Furthermore emails related to evaluation will not be answered. Doubts and claims will be addressed exclusively to the scheduled review session and preferably face-to-face.

The work will be done exclusively by means of the "Delivery of files" option of the virtual campus that will have an established period of validity. If it is not possible to make the shipment within the established period, it may be delivered on paper on the day of the last exam.

Personal causes that may influence the normal follow-up of the course by a particular student (illnesses,jobs, personal issues ...) may be discussed with the teacher, who will try to give a flexible option to the student if it is reasonably justified. However, these issues will only be taken into account when they are, exceeded and properlyjustified (with formal certificates) and, when they are known in advance, they will be discussed with the teacher during the first calendar month - not later or last moment If these requirements are not met, the student will be assessed as NA or Suspended.

If a student does any irregularity that can result in a significant variation of the qualification of an evaluation act, this evaluation act will be qualified with 0, regardless of the disciplinary process that can be later instructed. In case there are several irregularities in the evaluation acts within the same course, the final grade of this course will be 0.

Assessment Activities

Title Weighting Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Contend assessment and written work 30% 2 0.08 2, 13, 14, 5, 7, 8, 10, 9, 19, 17, 18, 4
Group presentations 40% 16 0.64 2, 1, 3, 13, 14, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 9, 12, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21
Partial tests and practic exercises 30% 6 0.24 1, 3, 13, 6, 7, 11, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21


Acheson, James M. (1981) “Anthropology of Fishing”, Annual Review of Anthropology 10: 275-316.

Alegret Tejero, J.L. y Vicente Temprano Gutiérrez (1989) “La antropología marítima como campo de la antropología social”, Agricultura y Sociedad 52: 119-142

Berkes, Fikret; Colding, J. and Folke, C. (2000) “Rediscovery of Traditional Ecological Knowledge as Adaptative Management”, Ecological Applications, 10(5), pp. 1251-1262.

Brosius, Peter J.; George W. Lovelance and Gerald G. Marten (1986) “Ethnoecology: an Approach to Understanding Traditional Agricultural Knowledge”, en Gerald G. Marten (1986) Traditional Agriculture in Southeast Asia: a Human Ecology Perspective. Westview Press. Boulder. Colorado.

Crumley, Carole L. (ed.) (2001) New Directions in Anthropology and Environment: Intersections, Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.

Dove, Michael R., and Carl Carpenter (eds.) (2008) Environmental Anthropology: A Historical Reader, Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

Ellen, Roy (1982) Environment, Subsistence and System: The Ecology of Small-Scale Social Formations, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Ellen, Roy (1998) “Comments to P. Sillitoe: The Development of Indigenous Knowledge. A New Applied Anthropology”, Current Anthropology, Volume 39, Numer 2.

Fairhead, James and Leach, Melissa Misreading African Landscape. Society and Ecology in Forest-savanna Mosaic. Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Haenn, Nora y Richard R. Wilk (2006) The Environment in Anthropology. A Reader in Ecology, Culture, and Susteinable Living. New York University Press.

Harold C. Conklin “Hanunóo Color Categories”, Journal of Anthropological Research. Vol. 42, No. 3, Approaches to Culture and Society (Autumn, 1986), pp. 441-446

Ingold, Tim (1986) The Appropiation of Nature. Manchester University Press

Marten Gerald G. (2008) Human Ecology.  Basic Concepts for Sustainable Development. London and New York: Eathscan, Primera edición 2001

Moran, Emilio F. (2006) People and Nature. An Introduction to Human Ecological Relations. Blackwell Publishing.

Orlove, Benjamin S. (1980) “Ecological Anthropology”, Annual Review of Anthropology 9, 235-273.

Redclift, M. (1996) Wasted: Counting the Costs of Global Consumption. EarthScan: London.

Russell, Diane, and Camilla Harshbarger (2003) Ground Work for Community-Based Conservation, Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira Press.

Sánchez Fernández, Juan Oliver (1996) “Ecología y cultura”, Política y Sociedad 23, pp. 51-64

Sillitoe, Paul (1998) “The Development of Indigenous Knowledge. A New Applied Anthropology”, Current Anthropology, Volume 39, Numer 2.

Sponsel , Leslie E. y David Casagrande (2008) "Sacred places and biodiversity conservation". In: Encyclopedia of Earth. Eds. Cutler J. Cleveland (Washington, D.C.: Environmental Information Coalition, National Council for Science and the Environment).

Townsend, Patricia K. (2009) Environmental Anthropology: From Pigs to Policies (Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc., Second Edition).


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