Human Ecology & Ecological Anthropology | Free Online Course | Alison

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Understanding Human Ecology and Ecological Anthropology

Learn about the complex relationship between human societies and their natural environment in this free online course.

Free Course
Understanding Human Ecology and Ecological Anthropology is a free online course that will outline how the subject of ‘human ecology’ emerged as scientists have become more aware of the impact human activity and population growth has had on the environment. As human populations have increased, so the space in which natural systems can thrive has been reduced. This short course unpacks important aspects of the study of ecological anthropology.
  • Duration

    4-5 Hours
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In Understanding Human Ecology and Ecological Anthropology, you will learn how human activities have polluted, harmed and changed the environment. Human ecology is the study of the interaction between humans and the environment, or the study of the distribution and abundance of humans. It deals with the relationship humankind has had with the natural environment and you will first learn about the impact the increase in the human population has had on Nature and the resultant damage.

Next, you will learn about two theories that explain the relationship between human societies and their environments, and how they outlived their use but ultimately paved the way for the study of human ecology. You will go back in history to the writings of Thomas Malthus in the eighteenth century, when he produced an essay about overpopulation and how this Malthusian theory of population influenced the ideas proposed by Charles Darwin in his theory of evolution. Following this, you will be introduced to ecological anthropology, a field that combines human ecology and cultural ecology.

Finally, you will learn how ecological anthropology has created many new branches of study, such as historical ecology, ethnoecology, ethnobotany and different models of human ecology. You will discover the benefits these different branches of study bring to our understanding and how they all explain how human societies have adapted to their environment, how the environment shapes cultural values, and how culture impacts the natural world. If you are interested in understanding the relationship human societies have with Nature, take this free course today and further your knowledge of human ecology and ecological anthropology.

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Learning Outcomes

After finishing this course you will be able to:

  • Describe the impact of human activity on the environment
  • Relate how ecological anthropology emerged
  • Discuss cultural materialism and neofunctionalism
  • Distinguish between latent functions and manifest functions
  • Recall different models of human ecology
  • Relate studies of different indigenous communities


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