Stockholm university
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Environmental Humanities II -Human-animal-nature relations over time

The course focuses on how animals and environments are studied from an environmental humanities perspective. The aim is to offer students a significantly deeper understanding of the long cultural history of animals and environments.

Based in research with multi-species and relational perspectives, new materialism, critical animal/plant studies and traditional ecological knowledge, the course will problematise how the boundaries between humans, animals and nature have changed over time.

The course provides knowledge about when different animals and plants appear in different places, mainly in north-west Europe, and deals with domestication, animal husbandry and plant use, and studies evidence for changing human-animal-nature interactions over time. The course also provides students with a background in how humans have extracted resources and reshaped the environments and the landscape over time. The course will thus, for example address human relations to soil, water, wetlands, ice, energy and vegetation over time. The course will provide students with the skills and ability to reflect on how animal and environmental agents can be exploration in the tracing of complex events and processes.

The students are offered a broadened and deepened entangled natural and cultural history, linked to ongoing research and ethics in the environmental humanities field. Through group exercises and assignments, the students will identify and formulate questions in relation to course content, and a short written text will be composed, in relation to critical and creative ways of working with human-animal-nature relations, based on a study material. This work is evaluated by student colleagues.

Through its specialisation, the course is useful for many professions that work with society's sustainability challenges. The content provides tools for critically and creatively problematizing and visualise changing human-animal-nature relations over time.

  • Course structure

    Teaching format

    Teaching can take the form of lectures/seminars/workshops, as well as study visits and excursions. Online teaching may occur. Some of the these teaching elements are compulsory and can be supplemented in case of absence, with written assignment.

    Teaching is in English. For more detailed information please refer to the course description (link). The course description is available at least one month before start of the course.

    Learning outcomes

    For a pass result the student should be able to: In terms of knowledge and understanding:

    \- Be able to give an outline of the cultural history of animal and environmental studies.

    \- Show in-depth knowledge of relational perspectives, critical animal/plant studies, multispecies perspectives and traditional ecological knowledge

    \- Be able to account for the emergence of ideas about the agency of the non-human and how it is used into research.

    *Regarding skills and abilities:*

    \- Describe and assess how animals and environments are studied in environmental humanities and how this can be applied to different study materials as in archaeology.

    \- Analyse and draw conclusions about changing human and animal interactions over time.

    *In terms of judgement and approach:

    * - Critically analyse, discuss and problematise human-animal-nature relationships based on multispecies perspective, new materialism, critical animal/plant studies, and traditional ecological knowledge.

    \- Critically analyse the differences and similarities between natural and cultural historical approaches to approaches to historiography and how this is linked to ongoing sustainability challenges.

    \- Critically reason and discuss scientific, societal and ethical aspects of human-animal-nature relationships based on a study material.

    \- Draw conclusions about and compare perspectives on how animals and nature can be described either as categories or in terms of terms of relationships.


    Knowledge control takes place at the end of the course in the form of a written assignment, through active participation in seminars, and written assignments for seminars.