nl en

Contemporary Challenges in Environment & Society



Please see the Registration procedure below.
Only the following categories of students may register for this course:

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

  • Students enrolled for the Minor CA-OS

  • Exchange and Study Abroad students who have been explicitly admitted to this course

  • Pre-master students who have completed their Admission procedure for the master CA-DS and have been formally admitted to this course as part of the pre-master programme.


The course Environment and Society offers an introduction to the complex relationships between environment and human societies. These relationships are complex because societies use, change or sustain their environment in different ways, and also influence environments at distant locations through trade networks and conservation activities. The human-environment relationship is also complex because there are different perceptions and definitions of what the environment is, and how people relate to it.
What are our definitions of nature, ecology, or human-environment relations? How do these definitions change between cultures and knowledge traditions, and influence environmental policy and practice? And how do political and economic structures condition the exploitation or protection of natural resources?
Lectures are organized around a number of cases studies in different environmental settings, such as arctic, tropical, marine, rural, urban, which involve different topics, such as wildlife conservation, colonialism, community-based management, indigenous rights, and contemporary conflicts around palm oil, mining and illegal fishing. The case studies are discussed in class and linked to different theoretical currents in environmental anthropology, including ecological anthropology, political ecology, common property theory and legal pluralism.
The course also looks into environment-society issues from a more practical point of view. Students learn about participatory methods for assessing environmental problems, which they practice in class and in a Participatory Rural Appraisal fieldwork assignment. The course also includes an excursion to a relevant site.



Mode of instruction

Total of 10 ECTS = 280 study hours (sbu)

  • Lectures, Tutorials, Group discussions

  • Excursion

  • Student presentations

  • Literature

  • Papers

Assesment method

  • Presence and active participation at lectures and tutorials

  • Individual take-home assignments

  • Research project proposal + presentation

  • Group report

Re-take is only possible if the final grade is below 6, if student has actively participated in the course and submitted most of the assignments / papers / presentations.

Exam registration

Students do not need to register for the exam as this course will not have a classical exam.

Registration in uSis

  • Registration in Usis is obligatory for the lectures (H) for all participants. Please consult the course registration website for information on registration periods and further instructions.

  • Registration for the exam is NOT necessary because this course does not have one final (classical) exam.

  • Exchange students: those who have officially been admitted to this course during the Admission Procedure, will be registered in usis by the faculty-administration.


Blackboard will be used to make information and assignments available. Registration on Blackboard is obligatory for all participants.

Reading list

T.b.a. on Blackboard.

Contact Infromation

Annet Pauwelussen, MSc MA