Summer 2019 - SA 359 D200

Special Topics in Anthropology (A) (4)


Class Number: 5799

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    May 6 – Aug 2, 2019: Mon, 1:30–5:20 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Natasha Ferenczi
    Office Hours: MO 10:00-12:00
  • Prerequisites:

    SA 101 or 150 or 201W.



Explores a topic in Anthropology not regularly offered by the department.


This course addresses the ways we can understand the complexity of issues and challenges facing communities, organizations and nations in dealing with anthropogenic climate change. In the scientific practices of studying and documenting climate change, glacial change and species endangerment distinct approaches to knowledge are exposed. For example, in neoliberal conservation discourse nature is increasingly becoming more liquid- configured to fit the global economy (e.g. carbon credits and offsets, mitigation banking). Implicit is the idea that we must inevitably sell nature to save it.

Climate change, though often conceptualized by scientists as a global process, is experienced locally in distinct ways. In this course we will examine concepts of people-nature relationships, risk, vulnerability, the social contexts of policies and actions, and the foundations of current climate change responses. We will look at local contextual understandings of conservation, climate change and biodiversity governance in Costa Rica and in the Republic of the Maldives and some of the ways people in these areas engage with global discourse on climate change and its effects on biodiversity, displacement from ancestral lands and people-nature relationships.

What knowledge politics are at work when local people struggle for legal recognition that the Caribbean Sea is alive, or global cooperation to reduce emissions because the Maldives are sinking? Throughout this course you will be asked to critically reflect on various constitutions of nature-as sentient, liquid economy, parts on the move, ecofunctional, kincentric, resources, and as untouched and pristine, attending to the knowledge politics implicit in these various configurations. We will use these ideas to attend to issues in national and global policy-making.


  • Discussion facilitation 10%
  • Journal reading questions 10%
  • Article analysis 15%
  • Policy brief 15%
  • Policy brief oral presentation 15%
  • Final essay 20%
  • Participation 15%


Grading: 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:



Cruikshank, Julie. (2005). Do Glaciers Listen? Local Knowledge, Colonial Encounters and Social Imagination. Vancouver: UBC Press.
(Available online through SFU Library)

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site 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.