SSI1 117

People, Plants, and Animals

This course addresses fundamental knowledge acquisition and knowledge construction while teaching important skills of reading, writing, and oral presentation. Students learn about how they think, how others think (in both scholarly and non-scholarly ways), and how to effectively interpret and create forms of written and oral communication. They learn important skills of distinguishing between description, summary, and analysis, and between various sources of information (scholarly vs. popular, primary vs. secondary). The vehicle used in the course for developing these skills is a focused study of epistemologies of the natural world. Students explore the ways that human communities have related to, utilized, and conceptualized the flora and fauna around them by examining different sources of knowledge (scientific, indigenous, based on lived experience, popular) about the relationships between people, plants, and animals. Students study this from various points of view, and discuss how different types of knowledge function in how we construct our understandings about the people-plant-animal triad. Understanding how knowledge is formed in this one domain (the natural world) will be helpful in seeing how knowledge can be similarly constructed in other domains of inquiry. Topic-wise, the course examines how different types of economies have engendered different relationships between people, plants, and animals, by taking an historical-anthropological approach, considering human communities of the past as well as the present. Topics covered include domestication, traditional foraging, concepts of animal welfare, cultural values of reciprocity with the plant and animal worlds, urban foraging, and contemporary issues of trade in and conservation of flora and fauna. By examining cross-cultural perspectives, including their own, students use both macro- and micro-lens approaches. Affiliate department: Sociology and Anthropology.