Fall 2017 - SA 371 J100

The Environment and Society (SA) (4)

Class Number: 8340

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 5 – Dec 4, 2017: Mon, 5:30–9:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    SA 101 or 150 or 201W.



An examination of environmental issues in their social context. Environmental issues are on the leading edge of contemporary public concern and public policy debates. This course will examine such issues as the relationship between social organization and mode of subsistence, the politics of hunger, and the way in which human societies in their particular social, historical, and cultural contexts view and interact with the natural world.


This course invites students to creatively and critically engage with themes related to perceptions, practices and productions of the environment at a global environmental and economic moment of unprecedented resource extraction, climate change discourse and on-­‐ going indigenous struggles for land rights occurring worldwide. Research at the environment-­‐ society nexus is increasingly entangled in configuring agency, sentience and intersubjectivity in new ways, among human and non-­‐human beings, landscapes and seascapes, to pioneer new platforms and found new policies that acknowledge relationships between social and physical environments. Traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) is gaining new visibility, but efforts to conserve or incorporate traditional knowledge in management-­‐science studies often continue to still, measure and categorize nature in ways that resonate with colonial approaches. The consequences of differentiating nature from culture enter debates over biodiversity governance, TEK conservation and global climate change.

Students will be encouraged to explore the ways different configurations of nature deploy particular human-­‐nonhuman relationships. The two main texts, one ethnographic and the other grounded in ethnoecology, discuss local indigenous contexts in the Yukon and Alaska, and California respectively, in post-­‐colonial theoretical frameworks that explore encounters between explorers and indigenous peoples and disputed meanings around relationships between people and nature. Assigned readings contextualize environmental transformation through time from an array of sources: narratives, oral traditions, historical archives, songs and scholarly research in ethnobiology, ethnobotany, and other social sciences. As a class we will explore the ways natural, social and cultural worlds come to be gradually disaggregated and the consequences that fragmentation generates.


  • Participation (class activities, writing exercises, film questions) 15%
  • Article critique & discussion 10%
  • Critical analysis of course readings 15%
  • Self-reflective journal 5%
  • Round table discussion 5%
  • Class presentation 15%
  • Abstract & outline 5%
  • Final paper 30%


Where a final exam is scheduled and you do not write the exam or withdraw from the course before the deadline date, you will be assigned an N grade. Unless otherwise specified on the course outline, all other graded assignments in this course must be completed for a final grade other than N to be assigned.

Academic Dishonesty and Misconduct Policy
The Department of Sociology and Anthropology follows SFU policy in relation to grading practices, grade appeals (Policy T 20.01) and academic dishonesty and misconduct procedures (S10.01-­‐S10.04). Unless otherwise informed by your instructor in writing, in graded written assignments you must cite the sources you rely on and include a bibliography/list of references, following an instructor-approved citation style. It is the responsibility of students to inform themselves of the content of SFU policies available on the SFU website: http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student.html.



Anderson, E. N.; Pearsall, Deborah; Hunn Eugene; Turner, Nancy. Ethnobiology. Wiley-Blackwell, 2011. [Online]
ISBN: 978-0470547854

Anderson, M. Kat. Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California’s Natural Resources. University of California Press, 2005. [Online]
ISBN: 978-0520280434

Cruikshank, Julie. Do Glaciers Listen? Local Knowledge, Colonial Encounters and Social Imagination. UBC Press, 2005. [Online]
ISBN: 978-0774811873

Additional articles and chapters will be available on Canvas and through the SFU library.


For tips on writing:
Narayan, Kirin. Alive in the Writing: Crafting Ethnography in the Company of Chekhov. University of Chicago Press, 2012.
ISBN: 978-0226568195

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://students.sfu.ca/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html