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Environment and Society


Admission requirements

Only the following categories of students can register for this course:

  • Students enrolled for the BA programme “Culturele antropologie en ontwikkelingssociologie” at Leiden University who have passed the Propedeuse

  • Exchange and Study Abroad students

Please see below a description of the registration procedure.


The course Environment and Society offers an introduction to the complex relationships between environment and human societies. It will deal with the ways human societies use and protect not only their own environment but also influence resources at distant locations through trade networks and conservation activities. How do humans interact with the various kinds of environments? What are the socio-political and economic structures that determine the exploitation of natural resources? Within what kinds of contexts are the important decisions taken? How do considerations of justice and sustainability influence resource? How are resources managed and who will benefit from the resources? Who is responsible for resource management?
The course will look into these questions from a theoretical perspective as well as from a more practical point of view. It will use important elements of the long tradition in ecological anthropology but it will also explore interdisciplinary approaches to human-environment interactions.
The course will consist of three parts. In the first part the theoretical foundations for the study of human-environment interactions will be explored. These will include ecological anthropology, common property resource management, environmental history and planning, and environmental economics.
In the second part of the course the focus will be on various types of environment and resources and how they are managed both by local communities as well as by outside agencies. Examples are rainforests, wetlands, savannah and grasslands, marine resources, islands, and water resources. The discourse on sustainability that dominates present day environmental discussions will be an integral part of the discussions in all examples.
In the third part of the course a number of extended case studies will be presented and discussed. They range from the management of protected rain forest areas by indigenous peoples, the exploitation of non-timber forest products and to wildlife conservation in an agricultural landscape. All cases will be illustrative of the relevance of theoretical knowledge and approaches for solving practical environmental problems. A full day excursion to a relevant site will be part of part of the programme.


Wednesdays 8 February – 9 May 2012, 10-13 h

Location: 8th February room 5A42, all other dates room 5A37
Pieter de la Court Building (Faculty of Social Sciences)

Mode of instruction

Total of 10 ECTS = 280 study hours (sbu)

  • Lectures

  • Tutorials / Group discussions

  • Students presentations

  • Literature

  • Papers

Assesment method

  • Presence and active participation at lectures and tutorials

  • Review article

  • Project Proposal


Blackboard module will be active from the 25 August.
Students who have been granted admission must register for this course on Blackboard.

Reading list

  • B. Walters et al. (eds.) (2008) Against the grain. The Vayda tradition in human ecology and ecological anthropology. New York, Alta Mira Press (376 pp.)

  • D. Roe & J. Elliott (eds.)(2010) Poverty and Biodiversity Conservation. London, Earthscan 397 pp.)

  • T. Bestor (2004) Tsukiji. The fish market at the center of the world. Berkeley, Un. of California Press (411 pp.)

  • G. Borrini-Feyerabend et al. (2007) Sharing power. A global guide to collaborative management of natural resources. London, Earthscan (431 pp.)

The 1st book is available from the course organizer at a reduced price (about €20). The 4th book will be made available as a PDF file (free of charge) and will mainly serve as a source or reference book for writing the project proposal.

Registration / Contact information

  • Students CA-OS: registration through secretariat CA-OS, room 3A19, tel. 5273469, e-mail:, between 1 December 2011 and 15 Januari 2012.

  • Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply for the exchange programme