Anthropology of Sustainability: Global Challenges and Alternative Futures

Key information

Start date
End date
3 weeks
FHEQ Level

Module overview

This module combines theory and anthropological case studies to help students develop a critical knowledge of approaches to address contemporary global challenges such as poverty and economic exclusion, migration/refugees, gender inequality, climate change, informality, child labour, health and illness, infrastructure and corporate expansion.

It seeks to deepen students' awareness and understanding of how people around the world apprehend and deal with the pressing social and environmental challenges they face, and the range of concepts and practices enacted to deliver sustainable futures, including international development, corporate social responsibility (CSR), financial inclusion, and social enterprise, entrepreneurship, and innovation.

The module invites students to grapple with the contested and culturally-situated nature of these paradigms, and how they are underpinned by forms of economic and political power.

Topics covered in the module may include:

  • Sustainability: Discourse and Practice
  • Infrastructure: connectivity and exclusions
  • The Anthropocene and climate change
  • Anthropology of extraction
  • The politics of indigeneity
  • Common property and collective action
  • Sustainability and the food system
  • CSR and bottom billion capitalism
  • Finance, financial inclusion and digital innovations
  • Alternative economies and sustainable futures

Methods of assessment

Modules are assessed through a variety of methods including short and long essays, examinations, oral presentations, and response papers.

Suggested reading

Representative readings

  • Anand, N., Gupta, A. and H. Appel. (eds). The Promise of Infrastructure. Durham, NC: Duke University.
  • Brightman, M. and J. Lewis (eds). 2017. The Anthropology of Sustainability: Beyond Development and Progress. London: Palgrave McMillan.
  • Crate, S. and M. Nuttal. 2016. Anthropology and Climate Change: From Actions to Transformations, second edition. New York: Routledge.
  • Dolan, C. and D. Rajak (eds). 2016. The Anthropology of CSR. Oxford, New York: Berghahn Books.
  • Lorimer, J. 2015. Wildlife in the Anthropocene: Conservation after Nature. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  • Maurer, B., Musaraj, S. and I. Small (eds). Money at the Margins: Global Perspectives on Technology, Financial Inclusion and Design. New York and Oxford: Berghahn, 2017.
  • Tsing, A. 2015. The Mushroom at the End of the World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • West, P. 2016. Dispossession and the Environment: Rhetoric and Inequality in Papua New Guinea. New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Zademach, H-M. and S. Hillebrand (eds). 2013. Alternative Economies and Spaces. Verlag: Transcript.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.