Dr. Carpenter is a symbolic and environmental anthropologist with experience in sustainable development. Her teaching interests include the theoretical history of environmental anthropology and the history of thought in development and conservation. She often pairs lectures on discourses (of participation, sustainable development, wilderness, community, etc.) with lectures on how all these things look in practice (in specific case studies). Dr. Carpenter teaches or team-teaches the following courses:
- Environmental Anthropology, a new undergraduate course on the history of environmental anthropology, with Michael R. Dove. Topics include: questioning the nature-culture dichotomy, the relation between social organization and ecology, the debate about swidden agriculture, the idea of the self-sufficient community, indigeneity, environmental movements, sense of place, and constructions of the environment.
- Social Science of Development & Conservation, a graduate seminar intended to provide a fundamental understanding of the social aspects of sustainable development and conservation projects. Topics include: participation and collaboration, western and 3rd world discourses of development & conservation, the power of institutions and states and limits of power, community and social capital in anthropology and in the development & conservation worlds, and subsistence and capitalism in development & conservation.
- Households, Communities, and Gender for Environmental Studies, a new graduate seminar. Topics may include: the division of labor and subsistence and capitalism; the public-domestic dichotomy and formal and informal relations between households; discourses of gender and community; problematizing the household; land rights and households, communities, and gender; and patriarchy and class in households and communities.
- Social Science of Development and Conservation: Advanced Readings, an advanced graduate seminar on the social science theory of sustainable development and conservation, with Michael R. Dove. Topics discussed vary from year to year in response to current debates and events, but in the past have included the idea of poverty, the politics of mapping, microcredit and the entrepreneurial subject, the politics of indigeneity, and new directions in political ecology.
- Society and Environment: Advanced Readings, an advanced graduate seminar on the social science theory of the relationship between society and environment, with Michael R. Dove. The course examines key theoretical developments and current issues in social and political ecology and ecological anthropology, and attempts to place them in their historical and intellectual context. Topics discussed vary from year to year in response to ongoing debates in the field and global events, but in the past have included environmental conflict, the concepts of local agency and governmentality, re-thinking non-timber forest products, and pest ideologies.
Dr. Carpenter also participates, with other social ecology faculty, in two “labs” for graduate students, a master’s lab (with Amity Doolittle and Michael R. Dove), and a doctoral lab (with Michael R. Dove). Both include presentations and discussions of student work and discussion of topics related to research and writing.