Teaching Anthropology in the Anthropocene: Revising the curriculum as a response to Global Challenges

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We live in a fast-changing world and are entering a new era, the Anthropocene (Crutzen 2002), which is defined by the irrevocable impacts of human activity and destruction. No matter how the future is imagined, either as technologically-driven utopias, or apocalyptically-induced dystopias, it is acknowledged that our planet, societies and cultures are confronted with monumental challenges, including ecological catastrophes, overpopulation, conflict, displacement, and the rise of xenophobia, hate, and nationalism, as political responses to these issues. Anthropology, a discipline that has the human—Anthropos—as its core focus of study, has taken up a crucial role among other social sciences and humanities to trace the transition to the new epoch and interpret the significant transformations in our ways of living. An essentially comparative subject (Eriksen 2001), anthropology brings in a global perspective that highlights the interconnectivity and interdependency even between societies that seem to be far removed from each other and unrelated. But it is also at the level of education and pedagogy that we need to address the new global challenges and internal methodological and epistemological shifts in our discipline. As a response, we have recently reoriented and revised the Anthropology curriculum and programmes at Queen’s in order to equip students with the tools to directly engage with current themes and affairs, develop skills necessary for a new world of social engagement and labour, and be able to understand the international terrain of socio-political and economic change.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Specialist publicationQueens University Belfast Reflections
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


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