BA Geography with International Study

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Wildlife in the Anthropocene

Course unit fact file
Unit code GEOG30702
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes

Overview

This module examines human relationships with wildlife and the place of 'wildness' (both literally and metaphorically) in the contemporary world. Wildness refers to those species, habitats, ecosystems and places that precede, or supersede, human control. The module explores the varied meanings, locations, material effects and moral implications of wildness today. It ranges across philosophical, theoretical and policy debates to give students a wide but deep grounding in the key questions and arguments that animate contemporary discussions of wildlife and wildness on our increasingly 'human planet'. These questions will be taken up through a series of key contemporary issues and debates surrounding wildlife and wildness, including: the politics and ethics of wildlife conservation, human-wildlife conflicts, valuations of wildlife and the wild, and new approaches to wild(er)ness in the Anthropocene. Throughout a wide range of cases will be discussed from around the world

Aims

  • Explore the predicament of wildlife in the Anthropocene, when wildlife and wild places are fast disappearing
  • Consider how the ideas of wildlife and wilderness relate to the realities they denote and to examine the complexity of these ideas and their contested political implications
  • Question commonly understood geographies of wildlife and wilderness, and to explore alternative geographical representations, and realities, of wildness
  • Examine the cultural, political and ethical dimensions of human relationships with wildlife, biodiversity loss, and conservation across a wide range of geographical settings
  • Critically reflect upon how wildlife and wildness are understood and represented in media and to consider how these representations shape popular imaginaries and inform policy and practice

 

Teaching and learning methods

The course unit is delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars. Each of the teaching weeks will involve both a two-hour lecture and a one-hour seminar. 
Content for the Nowanup fieldtrip special session is delivered asynchronously. All other teaching is synchronous/ in person. Lectures are recorded and made available through the UoM podcasting system for those who cannot attend on the day.

Sessions will draw upon a range of resources, including key readings, visual and audio media, and Power-point slides. These resources will be compiled on Blackboard for student access. Lectures will be recorded and available as ‘podcasts’ for students to access. 
 

Knowledge and understanding

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the practical and ideological complexities of the categories of ‘wildlife’ and ‘wildness’
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the social, political and ethical challenges of living with, and making space for, wildlife in the Anthropocene
     

Intellectual skills

  • Critically reflect on how representations of wildlife and wildness in popular media shape your own and wider societal understandings of, and relationships with, wildlife and wild places
  • Apply theoretical perspectives on wildlife to specific contemporary challenges and cases related to wildlife and wild places and identify the strengths and weaknesses of these perspectives
  • Assess the strengths and weakness of prominent wildlife policies and practices today
     

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Higher level skills of critical reading, speaking, thinking and writing
  • The capacity to synthesise, distinguish and critically evaluate a range of arguments and evidence
  • The ability to engage critically and creatively in contemporary debates on wildlife conservation and management  
  • The ability to locate and utilise a range of appropriate material for use as both an intellectual resource and/or an object of critical analysis
     

Assessment methods

Formative Assessment Task:
Essay plan
Length (word count/time):  500 words (max)
Feedback:  via Turnitin

Assessment Task:

(1) Coursework essay
Length (word count/time):  2000 words
Feedback:  via Turnitin (within 15 working days of submission)
Weighting:  50%

(2) Take-at-home, open book examination (OBE)
Length (word count/time):  Section A 300 words, Section B 1200 words
Feedback:  via Turnitin 
Weighting:  50%
 

Recommended reading

An indicative selection of readings from across the weekly topics:

Barua, M., 2022. Feral ecologies: the making of postcolonial nature in London. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 28(3): pp.896-919. 
Chao, S., 2022. Plantation. Environmental Humanities, 14(2): pp.361-366.
Cronon, W. 1996. The Trouble with Wilderness: Or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature. Environmental History, 1(1): pp.7-28.
Heise, U. 2017. Imagining Extinction: The Cultural Meanings of Endangered Species. Chicago: Chicago University Press.
Houston, D., 2021. Planning in the shadow of extinction: Carnaby’s Black cockatoos and urban development in Perth, Australia. Contemporary Social Science, 16(1): pp.43-56. 
Lorimer, J. 2015. Wildlife in the Anthropocene: Conservation after Nature. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Margulies, J.D., Wong, R.W. and Duffy, R., 2019. The imaginary ‘Asian Super Consumer’: A critique of demand reduction campaigns for the illegal wildlife trade. Geoforum, 107: pp.216-219.
Marris, E. 2011. Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World. New York: Bloomsbury.
McCubbin, S.G. and Van Patter, L.E., 2020. Trophy Hunters & Crazy Cat Ladies: exploring cats and conservation in North America and Southern Africa through intersectionality. Gender, Place & Culture, pp.1-24.
Whyte, K.P., 2018. Indigenous science (fiction) for the Anthropocene: Ancestral dystopias and fantasies of climate change crises. Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space, 1(1-2): pp.224-242.
Youdelis, M., Nakoochee, R., O'Neil, C., Lunstrum, E. and Roth, R., 2020. “Wilderness” revisited: Is Canadian park management moving beyond the “wilderness” ethic?. The Canadian Geographer/Le Géographe canadien, 64(2): pp.232-249.
van Dooren, T. 2014. Flight Ways: Life and loss at the edge of extinction. New York: Columbia University Press.
 

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Seminars 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Aurora Fredriksen Unit coordinator

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