ANTH 204:  HUMAN ECOLOGY (Section 1 & 2)

Spring 2015


 Tu/Th 1:00-2:15 & 2:30-3:45         Bailey 152


Instructor: Barbara Welker                                                    Office: Bailey 150 or Lab: Bailey 152

Telephone:  245-5204     email:        Office hours:  Wednesday 1:00 – 4:00



This course will examine human ecology within an evolutionary, biocultural, cross-species, and cross-cultural framework.  We will begin with an overview of the disciplines of ecological anthropology and human behavioral ecology.  The remainder of the course will be divided into the following:  (1) human biocultural adaptations to various global biomes, (2) the significance of human behavior from a cross-species perspective, (3) the status of the earth in relation to anthropogenic activities, and (4) student presentations of individual research focused on relevant/related topics in human ecology.



Students will:

1.  demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of human adaptations to various environments (both biological and cultural) and the adaptive significance of many aspects of human behavior via (1) three written exams; (2) in-class presentations, seminars, and discussions; and (3) a five-page term paper.  They will acquire said knowledge via assigned readings, lectures, films, seminars, case studies, discussions, and individual research projects.

2.  demonstrate their research, writing, and speaking skills, respectively, via (a) conducting a literature review-oriented research project, (b) organizing and writing a five-page term paper based on their research, and (c) presenting an overview of their project.

3.  demonstrate the completion of assigned readings and films via in-class discussion (in both small and large groups).  This will give them a practical perspective of human biocultural adaptation via articles, ethnographies, films, and discussion of specific cultures that have adapted both physically and culturally to disparate environmental conditions, e.g. arctic, tropics, desert, high altitude, etc.

4.  become more aware of the human onslaught to the global environment via readings and discussion.

5.  demonstrate their knowledge of their nutritional needs and success at fulfilling those needs via the completion of the nutrition project.  They will use course information and outside resources to evaluate their individual needs in relation to their current diet, so as to gain a better understanding of what their bodies need to function.  It is my hope that students will adjust their diet accordingly (if necessary) to improve their health and well-being.


TEXTBOOKS (available at bookstore): 

Linden E. (2011) The Ragged Edge of the World. Plume paperback by Penguin Books. ISBN: 9780452297746

Laughlin W.S. Aleuts: Survivors of the Bering land bridge. (1980 by Holt, Rinehart and Winston or 2002 by Cengage Learning)

Bishop N.H Himalayan herders. (1998 by Harcourt Brace or multiple years by Cengage Learning)

Dentan R.K. The Semai: A nonviolent people of Malaya. (1968 or 1979 by Harcourt Brace or 2002 by Cengage Learning)



3 exams @ 20% each                                                                          60%    

Presentation                                                                                        10%

Term Paper                                                                                         15%

Participation in seminars/case studies/discussions                             11% maximum

Nutrition project                                                                                   5%


NOTE: You can miss one participation day without losing credit but there is no way to make up any of the

remaining 10, unless the Dean of Students deems that you should receive special consideration.


EXAMS consist of fill-in-the-blank, multiple choice, short answer, and essay questions.  They are, for the most part, non-cumulative.


INDIVIDUAL PRESENTATIONS will be ~15 min long on topics related to human ecology. Each student will research a topic (topics are due by 2/5) that they find interesting, in more extensive detail than can be presented through the assigned readings or lectures.  Students will then share what they have learned with the class via a PowerPoint/short lecture.  I must receive PowerPoint’s via email, at least 1hr before class time or the most you can earn is 75%.  This will avoid last minute uploading.  In addition, videos/audios are not to be used as they cause schedule delays and use time that is allotted for presentation of research. All .ppt files should be saved in .pptx mode and Mac users should convert accordingly, so as not to lose graphics… CIT folks can help.


TERM PAPERS will be based upon the aforementioned research. Papers should be a minimum of 5 type-written pages (5%/half page x 10 = 50%, in other words, a missing half page will incur a loss of 5%), 12 font with standard margins, and use a minimum of 5 acceptable references (10% per reference = 50%). References must be cited throughout. Only peer-reviewed journal articles, monographs, or chapters from edited volumes are permitted for the minimum number of references. Students may, however, use additional references, e.g. popular journals, internet sources, etc. You need to check for spelling and grammar before submission. If you violate any of the requirements, you will forfeit a revision. Once I have corrected papers, you may make all corrections and re-submit your paper so you benefit (if needed) from the feedback and extra points. When you submit a revision, you must include the original.

Papers are due 1 week after the individual presentation (except in the case of scheduled breaks and last presentation dates wherein papers are due the same day as presentation so that I can correct them and you’ll have time to revise). 

Overdue papers will not be accepted beyond 1 week after they’re due and will be penalized 5%/day.


PARTICIPATION:  You can earn up to 1 pt for each discussion that you prepare for and participate in (11 pt max).  Discussions include seminars, case studies, and discussion days.  You will demonstrate your preparedness by preparing and submitting topics/questions/comments for discussion on those days.  It should be apparent from your submitted “topics” that you read and considered each of the assigned readings.  You must be present and prepared to earn credit.


NUTRITION PROJECT:   Drop boxes, websites, and downloaded nutrition charts are on mycourses
Document the following steps and comment on each as you carry them out.
1.     FEBRUARY:  You will calculate your recommended daily intake of macro- (protein, carbs, fat, fiber) and micronutrients (vitamins/minerals), based upon your sex, age, and height. Submit on course page by 2/28 1pt
2.     MARCH:  You will document your food consumption (by type/volume/weight of food) for 3 consecutive days and calculate your average nutritional and caloric intake (i.e. total divided over 3 days). Submit on course page by 3/31 1pt
3.     APRIL:  Determine how well you are doing and what you would need to change/add to your diet so as to best meet your needs.  Use the lists of foods to search for things that are, for example, high in fiber or Vit A.  Design a daily regimen that you feel you can stick to and try it.  Be sure to build variation into the system. Submit on course page by 4/30 1pt
4.     MAYSubmit with comments on course page (1pt) and discuss in class during final exam slot:
   5/11 for section 1 (1pt)
   5/7 for section 2 (1pt)
Please note:  SUNY Geneseo will make reasonable accommodations for persons with documented physical, emotional or learning disabilities. Students should consult with the Director in the Office of Disability Services (Tabitha Buggie-Hunt, 105D Erwin, and me regarding any needed accommodations as early as possible in the semester. I will accommodate all documented special needs/requests.


READINGS = mycourses article(s) – folders are entitled according to SEMINAR TOPIC for that

day, e.g. “Parental investment and conflict” or required reading e.g. “Human behavioral ecology

Linden= The Ragged Edge of the World

The Semai, Himalayan Herders, and Aleuts are individual required books

Dates in ()’s are when the corresponding term papers are due, i.e. one week after your presentation

Boxed items earn participation credit.

Please note that there are two assignments (and hence 2pt) due on 5/5


WEEK/DATE                         TOPIC                                                           READING ASSIGNMENT


1          1/20     Introduction, getting acquainted, presentation sign-up,                    

discussion guidelines                          

1/22     Ecological anthropology and human behavioral ecology                    Human behavioral ecology

(course page)

2          1/27     Conducting a literature review, and writing a term paper – date may change

1/29     People in ecosystems                                                                         Disease hand-out and

article (course page)

3          2/3       Disease film and SEMINAR: Parental investment and conflict        READINGS                          

2/5       Nutrition and RESEARCH TOPICS DUE                                       Famine (course page)

4          2/10     “Food Inc.” film

2/12     Film cont’d and SEMINAR: Infanticide and child abuse                  READINGS  

5          2/17     EXAM 1

            2/19     Arctic and & 2 PRESENTATION (2/26)

6          2/24     Arctic cont’d and CASE STUDY: Aleuts                                        Aleuts: Survivors…

            2/26     High altitude & 2 PRESENTATIONS (3/5)

7          3/3       FILM:  “Qeros” & 1 PRESENTATION (3/10)

            3/5       5 PRESENTATIONS (3/12)

8          3/10     High altitude cont’d & 1 PRESENTATION (3/24)

            3/12     SEMINAR: Physical attractiveness & pair bonding                         READINGS

                        & 2 PRESENTATIONS (3/24)

9          SPRING BREAK

10        3/24     CASE STUDY: Himalayan Herders and film                                   Himalayan Herders

            3/26     EXAM 2         

11        3/31     Desert and grasslands & 2 PRESENTATIONS (4/7)

            4/2       SEMINAR: Female preferences/strategies                                        READINGS

                        & 3 PRESENTATIONS (4/9)

12        4/7       Desert and grasslands cont’d & SEMINAR: Marriage systems       READINGS

4/9       FILM:  “The Desert People” & 1 PRESENTATION (4/16)                                               

13        4/14     5 PRESENTATIONS (4/21)

            4/16     Tropics and SEMINAR: Male preferences/strategies                       READINGS

14        4/21     Tropics cont’d and CASE STUDY                                                  Semai

4/23     FILM: “Nomads of the Rainforest”

15        4/28     DISCUSSION on The Ragged Edge of the World and                    Linden pp 1-130

                        3 PRESENTATIONS (TODAY)

            4/30     DISCUSSION on The Ragged Edge of the World                           Linden pp 133-246

                        3 PRESENTATIONS (TODAY)                            

16        5/5       EXAM 3

Section 1 (1-2:15)     May 11           12:00   Nutrition project due and discussion                                            

Section 2: 2:30-3:45             May 7                         3:30     Nutrition project due and discussion