Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE The Human-Nature Interface

LEVEL 01 - Year 1 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Environmental Management and Planning

DESCRIPTION This study-unit introduces students to the complex relationship between human beings and the natural world. The unit will first describe the history of the relationship between man and the natural world, spanning the pre-industrial world, the transition to modernity and the modern era. Students will then be given a snapshot view of the ways in which different disciplines address different aspects of the man-environment relationship, with particular reference to environmental sociology, environmental anthropology, environmental psychology and environmental economics. The environmental sociology component will highlight how the environment is socially constructed, as well as outlining the evolution of environmental movements in society. The environmental anthropology component will demonstrate how the management of environmental problems needs to take into account the multiple perspectives of various non-western societies. The environmental psychology component will draw attention to the links between cognition and environmental values and behaviour. Finally, the environmental economics component will provide an analysis of the role that environmental goods and services provide in the world economic system, together with an introductory view of ways in which market economies may fail to adequately deal with environmental problems. The unit will then present a discussion of heritage, drawing on the cultural geography tradition, and discussing the multiple tangible and intangible layers of the human-nature interface. Finally, the unit will provide a discussion of social conflicts related to natural resources, with reference to case studies.

Study-unit Aims:

This unit aims to:
- foster in students a fundamental appreciation of the complexity of relationships between people and Earth Systems;
- help students understand (i) the ways in which the history of mankind has been inextricably tied to the natural world, (ii) the role that behavioural and cultural parameters play in relation to environmental problems, (iii) the importance of cultural sensitivity in tackling environmental problems, (iv) the centrality of the environment to the world economy, and (v) the various ways in which the identity of people is tied to the natural world;
- help students recognize that environmental problems are closely tied to the dynamics of human societies;
- make students aware of the potential for political and military conflicts related to the use and/or mis-use of natural resources.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

a. Describe, with reference to examples, how the success (or vice versa) of human civilization is tied to a healthy natural support system;
b. Explain the concept of social construction of the environment;
c. Provide evidence and arguments illustrating the importance of Earth Systems to the world economy;
d. Define environmental externalities;
e. Explain and illustrate the concept of a social-ecological system;
f. Define the concept of heritage and explain the terminology of World Heritage Sites;
g. Describe tangible and intangible values of heritage landscapes.

2. Skills:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

a. Recognize the complexity of the human-nature interface;
b. Assess and evaluate the volatility and potential for conflict of different natural resource management scenarios;
c. Appreciate the important role that an understanding of perception and culture plays in managing Earth Systems.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Texts:
- Atkins, P., Simmons, I. & Roberts, B., 1998. People, Land and Time: An Historical Introduction to the Relations Between Landscape, Culture and Environment. Hodder Arnold. 1st Edition. ISBN: 0-340-67714-7.
- Moran, E. F., 2005. People and Nature: An Introduction to Human Ecological Relations. Blackwell. ISBN: 1-405-105-71-2.
- Sutton, P. W., 2007. The Environment - A Sociological Introduction. Polity. ISBN: 0-333-99568-6.

Supplementary Texts:
- Jellicoe, G. A. & Jellicoe, S., 1995. The Landscape of Man: Shaping the Environment from Prehistory to the Present Day. Thames and Hudson. 3rd Edition. ISBN: 978-050-027-819-2.
- Gould, K. A. & Lewis, T. L., 2008. Twenty Lessons in Environmental Sociology. Oxford University Press. Illustrated Edition. ISBN: 978-019-537-112-3.- Hanley, N., Shogren, J. & White, B., 2001. Introduction to Environmental Economics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Illustrated Edition. ISBN: 978-019-877-595-9.
- Dove, M, R. & Carpenter, C., 2008. Environmental Anthropology: A Historical Reader. Blackwell Publishing. 1st Edition. ISBN: 978-140-511-125-6.- Bell, P. A., Greene, T., Fisher, J. & Baum, A.S., 2005. Environmental Psychology. Psychology Press. 5th Edition. ISBN: 978-080-586-08-8.
- Gifford, R., 1997. Environmental Psychology: Principles and Practice. Allyn & Bacon. 2nd Edition. ISBN: 0-205-19218-1.
- Thomas, J, M., 2007. Environmental Economics: Applications, Policy & Theory. Thomson. ISBN: 0-324-536-68-2.
- Sutton, P.W., 2004. Nature, Environment and Society. Palgrave. ISBN: 0-333-995-68-6.- Fulcher, J. & Scott, J., 2003. Sociology. Oxford University Press. ISBN: 978-019-925-341-8.

ADDITIONAL NOTES An Intermediate Level pass at grade C or better is required in at least one of the following subjects: Environmental Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Pure Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, Geography or Sociology.


Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Presentation (20 Minutes) No 25%
Progress Test (1 Hour) No 25%
Assignment Yes 50%

LECTURER/S Michael Briguglio
Marie Briguglio
Elisabeth Conrad (Co-ord.)
Elisabeth-Frances Cremona

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2017/8, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.