The main campus of the University of Washington is in Seattle, Washington. The current enrollment of this campus is about 35,000 undergraduates and 12,000 graduate students.

General Information

At the University of Washington you can find courses and programs of interest in the Department of Anthropology and in the College of the Environment.

Within the College of the Environment, find the Program on the Environment, an interdisciplinary academic program that offers a B.A. in Environmental Studies, a minor in Environmental Studies, and a graduate certificate in Environmental Management.


Course Catalog
The Department of Anthropology offers specializations in graduate work in environmental anthropology and in medical anthropology and global health.

Cultures and Politics of Environmental Justice (AES 498/ANTH 469E)
A comparative survey of the history and politics of environmental justice movements in the U.S, and other parts of the world with a focus on the methods and materials used in the study of environmental racism, environmental risk, and sustainable development. This will include consideration of debates over the politics of environmental risk and environmental impact assessment, the fate of Title VI litigation, the emergence of autonomy-based strategies, and the problematic of environmental sustainability and social justice.
(This is a Special Studies course)

Intro to Environmental Anthropology (ANTH 210)
This course is about how people in different places and at different times have interacted with the natural environment. We begin with “revolutions:” tracing the history of transformations in human subsistence and production, from the time that we were all foragers to the present when most of us get everything at the store and have little direct involvement with the resources we use, while we deplete those resources at a faster rate than ever. We then move on “science,” to the different ways people understand nature and its parts. Then to “politics,” the interaction between human institutions and practices relating to environment and resources. And we end up with “justice,” the inequalities our social and political systems and the way they affect our interactions with nature, along with the ways we might address these inequalities.
Environmental Anthropology (ANTH  570)
Current issues in the study of human environment interaction from a cross-cultural perspective: ecological adaptation and maladaptation; ethnoecology and indigenous knowledge; anthropogenic environmental change; political ecology of “development;” interrelations of cultural and biological diversity; conflicts over indigenous land use and property rights, environmental justice, resource conservation, and sustainability.
Ecological Anthropology (ANTH 457)

Survey of anthropological research on interaction between human societies and their environments. Logic of different subsistence systems; intensification and transformation of subsistence strategies; population regulation; ecological aspects of human nutrition, disease, spatial organization, ethnicity, social stratification, conflict, and cooperation; historical roots of current ecological crisis.

Ethnobiology: Plants, Animals, and People(ANTH 458)
Culturally mediated relationships between human and natural environment studied in a comparative and evolutionary framework. How do peoples in diverse cultures recognize and name plants and animals and understand their relationship with nature? How is this traditional ecological knowledge applied in people’s daily lives?

Introduction to Medical Anthropology and Global Health (ANTH 215)
Explores influences of global processes on health of U.S. and other societies from a social-justice perspective. Emphasizes inter-relationships between cultural, environmental, social-economic, political, and medical systems that contribute to health status, outcomes, policies, and health-care delivery, focus on health disparities within and between societies and communities around the world.

Historical Ecology (ANTH 461)
This class is designed to explore the historical dimension of the environment, human adaptation, and cultural evolution. The class will critically evaluate arguments made in popular texts and the professional literature using archaeological, historical, and ethnographic evidence. We will seek to go below the surface of these accounts by looking at the primary anthropological and historical research that bears on the claims made and to develop a stronger understanding of how environment and culture have co-evolved and influenced each other in the history of human development. In the process students will come to better understand modern human-environmental dynamics as historically situated. Students can expect to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the role of human-environmental interactions in the unfolding of human history, both over long term of human history and the short term of decades and centuries. Case studies will be drawn from around the world.

 Environment and Society in China (ANTH/SISEA 406)
This class examines the history and current state of the environment in China from the perspective of interacting environmental cultures and ethics of the state and various local communities.

Resilience in Socio-Ecological Systems (ANTH 525/HA&S 397B)
In recent years, ecological scientists and social scientists have begun to examine several ways in which their theoretical models are similar at a meta-level, and also to look at ways in which new theoretical concepts and models can apply to both fields. In particular, the concept of resilience, and the associated model of the adaptive cycle, originally developed by C.S. (Buzz) Holling, have promised both theoretical and substantive integration of social and ecological systems. This is an exciting time for scientists interested in cross-disciplinary interaction and in cross-fertilization between disciplines. It is also a time when it is becoming clearer and clearer that the [ecological] earth system and the [socio-political] world system are in danger of crossing a threshold of irreparable damage, and that the health and survival of one depends on the health and survival of the other. New concepts such as resilience theory are thus timely as well as intellectually exciting.

Culture, Ecology, Politics (ANTH/ENVIR 459)
Critical studies of race, class, and gender differences in environmental politics. The political-economic dimensions of ecological change. Contemporary environmental movements including the varieties of bioregionalism, deep ecology, ecofeminism, ecosocialism, environmental justice, and social ecology.

Environmental Sociology (ENVIR/ESRM/SOC 379)
Social processes by which environmental conditions are transformed into environmental problems; scientific claims, popularization of science, issue-framing, problem-amplification, economic opportunism, and institutional sponsorship. Examination of social constructs such as ecosystem, community, and free-market economy. Use of human ecology to assess whether the current framing of environmental problems promotes ecological adaptability.

Growing Stuff: Ecology, Economy and Politics of Resource-Extraction Ecosystems  (ENVIR 450B)
This is a field-, reading-, and writing- intensive course on how humans modify and manipulate ecosystems to produce useful resources. Throughout, we emphasize a systems perspective, closely examining the ecological, economic, and political effects of the elements of each system on one another. We also pay attention to analysis of systems at different scales of space, time, and complexity. Our specific subject matter encompasses ecosystems in Washington State that are modified to produce and extract three kinds of resources: biofuels, shellfish, and milk products. Each three-week unit, including an all-day Saturday field trip, focuses on one of these three resource types. For each unit, students are required to read a series of articles, comment formally in class on some of them, go on the field trip, keep and turn in a field journal, and write a topical essay on an assignment dealing with problems of that type of resource system.


Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology
College of the Environment
Department of Anthropology


Eugene Stuart Hunn (Professor Emeritus, Department of Anthropology)
Ben Fitzhugh (Department of Anthropology) (
Donal K. Grayson
Steven Harrell
Devon G. Peña
Eric A. Smith
Julie K. Stein