I found this a really valuable course. Dr Orr is an excellent and helpful teacher, and has a really great way of explaining complex concepts, where they arose from, and making them memorable and relatable. The course traced human ideas about the environment all the way back to very early writings, and incrementally built upon this foundation to examine issues in human-environment interactions in the present day. Dr Orr prepared students very well for the exams, and the essay question gave scope for creativity and exploring areas of interest. The lectures were always deeply interesting and entertaining, and a lot of the knowledge I gained and theorists I was introduced to in this course, I have drawn on throughout the rest of my studies. I would recommend this course to both students majoring in anthropology, and to students who may not have a focus on anthropology but are interested in how humans perceive and interact with the environment in any way.
I took this in semester 1 2015 when Dr Orr was teaching though I think the lecturer will be changing now. The subject of human-environment interactions is very broad and that makes for a great thought-provoking class that allows you to apply the theories learnt to pretty much anything you can think of. The research paper gives you heaps of freedom to choose a topic you're interested in and apply the theories, so this is where you can start to focus in on whatever subject you want to pursue, which I appreciate, as I think it makes for a better paper if you're passionate about your subject. The content is well structured, moving from early pre-modern philosophy about humans and the environment, through to theories from today like world systems and political ecology, so you get a broad overview. The only thing is that in the last half of the semester, the theories become so alike that it's hard to distinguish between them.
Tutorial participation is marked, and again there were tutorial presentations, but the laid back classroom setting made these the best and most useful tutorials I've ever had at uni.
Semester 1 - 2015
Bachelor of Arts/Anthropology
Is lecture attendance necessary?
No - recorded online
Is the textbook necessary?
No - readings provided as pdf\'s
Interesting content and great readings
Tutorial presentations are easy and a good space for discussion
Freedom of choice for essay topics
Some technical hitches like lectures badly recorded/pdf links broken, but not often