Human Ecology

Spring 2003






Dr. William S. Abruzzi



Required Textbooks:


1.     J.C. Ryan and A.T. Durning, STUFF: The Secret Lives of Everyday Things. Northwest Environment Watch, 1997.

2.     E.J. Kormondy & D. E. Brown, Fundamentals of Human Ecology. Prentice-Hall, 1998.

3.     W. Rathje and C. Murphy, RUBBISH! The Archaeology of Garbage. Harper, 1993.

4.     W.S. Abruzzi, Selected Articles on Human Ecology [Packet]

5.     Daniel Bates, Human Adaptive Strategies: Ecology, Culture, and Politics. Allyn and Bacon, 2001.

6.     Ester Boserup, Conditions of Agricultural Growth: The Economic of Agrarian Change under Population Pressure. Earthscan Publications, 1992. (original 1965)












 Internet Reference Sources:


1.    Anthropological Index On Line

2.    Annual Reviews in Anthropology

3.    The Anthropology Review Database


5.    Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

7.    Infonation

8.    Population on the Web

9.    Population Reference Bureau

10.  Arctic Circle

11.  Arctic Environmental Atlas

12.  Land Use History of North America (LUHNA)












Course Description:


Ecology is the scientific study of the relationship between living organisms and their environment. General ecology contains a set of concepts and principles derived from evolutionary theory that are used to explain the adaptation and evolution of animal and plant populations and communities in response to the varying conditions of resource availability presented by diverse, dynamic and changing environments.  These concepts and principles pertain, among other things, to energy flow, feeding relations, resource acquisition behaviors, material cycles, population dynamics, ecosystem properties, population interactions and community organization.


Human ecology is the systematic application of ecological concepts, principles, theory and research methods to the study of human populations and communities. Human ecology examines the way in which human population-resource relationships affect the adaptation of human populations to desert, arctic, forested and other types of ecosystems.  It also examines the role that the resource requirements needed to sustain a population play in determining local differences in subsistence, labor allocation, technology, reproductive behavior, residential distribution, household composition and structure, community social and political organization, inter-population relationships and other social behaviors.  Human ecology also examines contemporary ecological concerns that result from population growth and industrial development in the light of the larger body of human ecological research.



 Teaching Methods:


A variety of teaching techniques will be used throughout the course, including lectures, class discussions, small-group discussions, reaction papers, films and various out-of-class assignments.  In addition, reading material will be given in the form of handouts distributed in class, articles placed on reserve in the library or informational materials distributed through email. These different methods of teaching and distributing information are used to complement and reinforce each other in order to increase the depth and the scope of the student's understanding of the material included in the course.  All of this material will be considered as part of the course.  Students should, therefore, expect to understand this material when preparing for tests and consider this information while preparing written assignments, where appropriate.





The following procedures will be used to arrive at a student's final grade in this course:


          1.    Mid-term exam  (multiple-choice & essay)                           

          2.    Final exam (comprehensive multiple-choice & essay)    

          3.    Flow Chart                                                                             

          4.    Participation                                                                        

          5.    Research Project & PowerPoint Presentation                    









Essays, Research Reports and Class Presentations:


1.   Each student will submit a flow chart which illustrates the flow of energy in the making of a product or the functioning of an organization.  The flow chart will be based on the energy-flow symbols developed by H.T. Odum (see Kormondy & Brown, pp.337-338).


2.  Students will work in groups to conduct a semester-long field research project involving a topic related to human ecology.  The results of that research will be presented to the class as a PowerPoint presentation (May 2) and submitted as a 18-20 page research paper.  NOTE: The grade received on the paper will be shared by the members of the group and will be determined by the by the grading criteria listed.


3.  ALL written material submitted as part of the requirements for the class MUST be typed, free of typing and grammatical errors and properly referenced.  Handwritten materials and materials that are sloppily done will NOT be accepted.


4. You are encouraged to meet with the instructor to discuss the progress of your written assignments.  Frequent consultations can only help to improve the quality of the assignments you submit and, thus, the grade you receive.


5.  Although the primary concern in this course is with the quality of the ideas and analysis presented, both the research reports and the essays will be evaluated in terms of their, originality, organization, clarity and sophistication.  They will also be evaluated in terms of their adherence to accepted writing standards.  Research papers, essays and other written assignments must be typed clearly and legibly. They must also be organized, grammatically correct and free from spelling errors. Reports and essays must, therefore, be carefully proof-read before they are submitted.  Sloppy and poorly written research papers and essays will lower the grade given on an assignment by at least 10 points.



Grading Policy:


1.  All written material submitted as part of the requirements for the class MUST be typed, free of typing and grammatical errors and properly referenced.  Handwritten materials and materials that are sloppily done will NOT be accepted.


2.  ALL assignments and examinations must be completed or taken at the time scheduled.  Late essays will only be accepted and make-up tests will only be given in the event of an emergency and will receive a 10-point reduction in grade for each day they are late (i.e., a score of 80 on a make-up test will be recorded as a 70, 60, 50, etc.). (Printer dysfunction is NOT a valid excuse for a late paper.  It shows that the student waited until the very last minute to complete  an assignment.)  Similarly, incomplete course grades  will be reduced by 10 points when they are completed. The grade on any exam not taken or assignment not completed will be zero. Plagiarized assignments will also receive a grade of zero.


2.  Plagiarism constitutes a violation of the Academic Behavior Code and will be dealt with very strictly. If a student is in doubt about a specific situation, it is his or her responsibility to consult the instructor or some other appropriate person. Plagiarism can result in a failing grade for the course.


3.  Attendance will not be taken, but absence from class is NOT an acceptable excuse for a student's failure to complete an assignment or examination. It is the student's responsibility to obtain the necessary information on days that he or she misses class. In addition, a student who regularly misses class cannot expect special consideration in the event of poor grades.


4.  In the final analysis, responsibility for completing all course requirements rests with the student. If the student has any doubt on any matter regarding the course, he or she should contact the instructor BEFORE the problem becomes insurmountable. One of the benefits of the small size of the Muhlenberg Campus is the potential that exist for easy faculty-student contact.



Both the mid-term and final exams will have extra-credit questions that will enable students to earn up to 10 extra points on each exam.  All of the extra-credit questions will be taken from the web pages associated with the course, especially the unassigned web pages which have been included to enhance the learning experience.


Additional Comment:

Students frequently approach social science classes with preconceived ideas about the subject matter to be covered. Due to the familiar nature of some of the topics and issues discussed, students often rely on socially acquired concepts and explanations, many of which are
simplistic and ethnocentric. Sociology and anthropology offer specific concepts and methods of social analysis. Students are expected to learn these concepts and methods and apply them to the material covered in the course.













Week of:

1-13 thru 1-27














"Paul Ehrlich gets Stanford 'Reviewed.'"







Malthusian Neocolonialism (ppt)
















"Some people have this vision -especially back East- that we're running out of trees.  We're not running out of trees.  We're running out of agreement on what to do with all these trees."


--Jack Ward Thomas, former chief of the U.S. Forest Service.





1.    Ehrlich, The Population Bomb, Chapters 1 & 2. (R)

2.    Weeks, Population, "A Demographic Perspective" & Chapter 1. (R)

3.    Six Billion People

4.    Ryerson, 16 Myths about Population.

5.    Nowak, Our Demographic Future: Why Population Policy Matters to America

6.    Duncan, "World Energy Production, Population Growth, and the Road to Olduvai Gorge." Population and Environment (2001).

7.   "Global Environment." Union of Concerned Scientists.

8.   "Global Warming." National Resource Defense Council.

9.   Wilson, et. al., "Biodiversity Distortions in Lomborg's The Skeptical Environmentalist



*     *     *



10.   Lomborg, Skeptical Environmentalist, Chapters 1, 2 & 23 (R).

11.   Singer, "Review of Paul and Anne Ehrlich Betrayal of Science and Reason"

12.   Kasun, "Doomsday Every Day". The Independent Review.

13.   Abruzzi, On Overpopulation

14.   Haynes, The Latest Alibi: Subtle Racism Underlies Population Controllers 'Women's Rights' Agenda

18.  Mann, Extinction: Are Ecologists Crying Wolf? Science (1991)

19.  Stevens, "Species loss: Crisis or False Alarm?" (R)


*     *     *



20.   Baliunas, "Why So Hot? Don't Blame Man, Blame the Sun." Wall Street Journal.

21.  Cromie, "Brightening Sun is Warming Earth. Harvard University Gazette.

22.  Singer, "Warming Theories Need Warning Label." Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

23.   Kirby, "Animals Retreat as Antarctic Cools." BBC News

24.   Brennan, Global Warming or Globaloney: The Forgotten Case for Global Cooling.

25.   Rensberger, ďA Readerís Guide to the Ozone Controversy.Ē The Skeptical Inquirer.

26.   Lindzen, Global Warming: The Origin and Nature of the Alleged Scientific Consensus.


*     *     *


27.   Rathje & Murphy, RUBBISH!

28.   Ryan & Durning, STUFF!

29.   Abruzzi Contemporary Environmental Issues.


*     *     *





Global Warming


Normal Climate Change?



Global Warming on Mars




Climate Science


Earth's Climatic History


Climate and the Carboniferous Period


A Paleo Perspective on Abrupt Climate Change


Solar Influence on Global Climate


The Cooling World


Rushing to Judgment


Global Warming: A Chilling Perspective








European Space Agency

Science Department

Statement Regarding Solar Impact on Global Climate


SOURCE:  ESA: Solar Influence on Global Climate




2-3 & 2-10

Thinking Critically about Human Ecology






Yuppie Environmentalism



Science and Anthropology    





Road Rage!





Solar Cells Go Organic






"A concern with knowing the world, rather than advocating a view of the world because it confirms some political, ideological, or religious project, has always been fundamental to scientific philosophy." 


  --Lawrence Kuznar, Reclaiming a Scientific Anthropology (1997)








 Urban Legends Reference Page







1.    Abruzzi, The Myth of Chief Seattle.

2.    Harris, "The Cultural Ecology of India's Sacred Cattle" (R)

3.    Odend'hal. "Energetics of Indian Cattle in Their Environment."(R)


*    *    *


4.    Abruzzi, Contemporary Environmental Issues

5.    Sagan, "The Fine Art of Baloney Detection". (R)

6.    Kunkel, "Methodological Considerations" (R)

7.     Kuznar, "Introduction." and "Anthropological Science." in Reclaiming a Scientific Anthropology. (R)

8.    Lastrucci, "What Science Is." (R)






Sacred Cow PPT







"The aim of scientific research is to formulate explanatory theories which are: (1) predictive (or retrodictive), (2) testable (or falsifiable), (3) parsimonious, (4) of broad scope, and (5) integratable or cumulative within a coherent and expanding corpus of theories."


--Marvin Harris (1994)




2-17 & 2-24

The History and Development of  Human Ecology









1.    Bates, Chapter 1 & 2.

2.    Kormondy & Brown, Chapter 2 - 5.

3.    Abruzzi, "Ecological Concepts in Anthropological Human Ecology: Illustrations from Mormon  Settlement in Northeastern Arizona." (P)



Film:   "Traditional Islam: Man and Nature"




3-3 & 3-10

Ecology of Foraging Populations









Ju/'hoansi Ecology (ppt)


Pygmy Ecology (ppt)




1.    Bates, Chapter 3.

2.    Kormondy & Brown, Chapter 17 (pp. 416-427)


*     *     *


3.    Lee, "What Hunters Do for a Living." (R)

4.    Lee, "!Kung Spatial Organization: An Ecological and Historical Perspective."(R)

5.    Lee, "!Kung Bushman Subsistence: An Input-Output Analysis." (R)

6.    Lee, "Population Growth and the Beginnings of Sedentary Life among the !Kung Bushmen." (R)

7.    Tanaka, "Subsistence Ecology of the Central Kalahari San." (R)


Film:  "The Hunters"



*     *     *



8.    Turnbull, "The Importance of Flux in Two Hunting Societies." (R)

9.    Abruzzi, "Flux among the Mbuti Pygmies of the Ituri Forest: An Ecological Interpretation." (P)

10.  Abruzzi, "Population Pressure and Subsistence Strategies among the Mbuti Pygmies." (P)

11.  Bailey, "Activity Patterns and Food Acquisition," from The Behavioral Ecology of Efe Men in the Ituri Forest, Zaire. (R)

12.  Bailey and Aunger, "Net Hunters vs. Archers: Variation in Women's Subsistence Strategies in the Ituri Forest. Human Ecology 17:273-297. (R)

13.  Abruzzi, "Materialist vs. Non-Materialist Explanations of Mbuti Pygmy Subsistence Behavior." L'Homme et la Foret Tropicale.



Film: "Pygmies of the Rainforest" (R)




3-17 thru 3-31

Evolution of Human Ecological Communities










1.    Bates, Chapters 4, 5 & 6.

2.    Kormondy & Brown, Chapters 13 & 14.

3.    Boserup, Conditions of Agricultural Growth.

4.    Abruzzi, Ecological Theory and the Evolution of Complex Human Communities.  Advances in Human Ecology 5:111-156. (1996). (P)

5.    Abruzzi, Ecological Stability and Community Diversity during Mormon Colonization of the Little Colorado River Basin. Human Ecology 15:317-338. (1987) (P)

6.    Abruzzi, Ecology, Resource Redistribution and Mormon Settlement in Northeastern Arizona. American Anthropologist 91:642-655. (1989) (P)



Energy Flow Charts (ppt)


Ecology and Mormon Colonization of the Little Colorado River Basin (ppt)





Disease Ecology







1.    Bates, Chapter 10.

2.    Kormondy & Brown, Chapters 9 & 10.

3.    Barrett, et. al. Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases: The Third Epidemiological Transition. Annual. Review of. Anthropology 1998 , Vol. 27: 247-271. (R)




4-14 & 4-21

Ecology, Resource Competition, Ethnic Conflict and Warfare

The next time you feel like complaining, remember: your garbage disposal probably eats better than 30% of the people in this world.








1.    Abruzzi, "Ecological Theory and Ethnic Differentiation among Human Populations." Current Anthropology 23:13-31. (1982).

2.    Barth, "Ecological Relationships of Ethnic Groups in Swat, North Pakistan." (R)

3.    Haaland, "Economic Determinants in Ethnic Processes."(R)

4.    Dupres, "Ethnicity and Resource Competition in Guyanese Society."(R)

5.    Lauwagie, "Ethnic Boundaries in Modern States: Romano Lavo-Lil Revisited." American Journal of Sociology 85:310-337 (1979)


Resource Competition in the Little Colorado River Basin (ppt)



*     *     *


6.    Chagnon, "Yanomamo Social  Organization  and Warfare." (R)

7.    Krech, "Eden" from The Ecological Indian: Myth and History. (R)

8.    Flores, "Bison Ecology and Bison Diplomacy: The Southern Plains from 1800 to 1850." (R)

9.    Ewers, "Intertribal Warfare as the Precursor of Indian-White Warfare on the Northern Great Plains." (R)




*   *   *   *   *



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