Ecology: Understanding Culture and Nature | Online Course | Alison

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Ecology: Understanding Culture and Nature

Understand the complex interplay of human culture and the natural world in this free online ecology course.

Free Course
Nature and culture are often seen as opposing ideas: what belongs to Nature cannot be the result of human intervention and, on the other hand, human cultural development is often achieved against Nature. This free online course in ecological studies is designed to help you understand the relationship between culture and Nature, and analyze the different impacts modern society has on the natural environment that surrounds us.
  • Duration

    4-5 Hours
  • Certification

  • Mobile Friendly

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Ecology: Understanding Culture and Nature is a free online course in which you will learn about the relationship between culture and Nature, and how they influence each other. You will study the culture-nature divide, a theoretical approach that seeks insight into the perceived tensions between Nature and culture. Then analyze a debate that discusses whether the nature-culture dichotomy is a given universal idea or a constructed reality relative to different cultures. 

Next, you will learn how the term ‘nature’ means different things, to different people, in different places, and you will see how various societies have created differing concepts of Nature, each interacting with it in their own way. The course also covers symbolic anthropology, a field of study that tries to understand how native or indigenous communities interact with their natural environments. 

Finally, you will learn about totemic and animistic systems, as well as the concept of ‘naturalism’, the idea or belief that only ‘natural laws’ and forces operate in the universe. Look into optimal foraging theory (OFT), which shows that natural selection favours those species whose behaviour maximises the amount of food or energy they are able to take in against how much time they must spend foraging for that food in the first place. Discover if OFT is applicable to humans and if human societies responded to their changing environments by changing their choices and thus behaviour. Start this free course today and increase your knowledge of the link between culture and Nature in ecological studies.

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Learning Outcomes

After completing this course you will be able to: 

  • Explain the nature-culture divide
  • Compare the relationship between Nature and culture
  • Describe historical materialism in Marxist ideology
  • Define totemic and animistic systems
  • Outline human evolutionary ecology
  • Summarize the debate between formalism and substantivism in economic anthropology
  • Discuss how reason and Nature serve as agents of selection





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