Michael R. Dove

Margaret K. Musser Professor of Social Ecology; Professor of Anthropology, Curator of Anthropology Peabody Museum; Co-Coordinator, Joint F&ES/Anthropology Doctoral Program

Teaching Statement

A distinguishing characteristic of my teaching is a focus on the environmental relations of local communities, while recognizing that it is equally important to understand the ways that such local systems are entwined with extra-local, national, and global markets, politics, and ideologies.  I emphasize problematizing where necessary the orthodox approaches to conservation and development.  My teaching encompass communities, local and national governments and NGOs, and addresses such topics as political ecological theory, indigenous environmental knowledge, natural disasters, agrarian society, and field methods.  I strongly encourage my advisees to carry out their own independent summer research projects.  I help them with their research, not the reverse.  Most of my advisees carry out research internationally, have excellent records of obtaining support for this both within and beyond Yale, and have won numerous awards in recognition of their research achievements.

There is every year a critical mass of 30-50 students here working on these issues, which is perhaps unique in world and with a tradition of supportive versus competitive peer dynamics.  I also run a 1-credit Dove doctoral lab for my doctoral students from F&ES, Anthropology, and occasionally also History and Sociology.

Joint Doctoral Degree
I coordinate a combined doctoral degree between F&ES and Yale’s Department of Anthropology, the only one of its kind in the country.  The purpose of this program is to (1) combine the inter-disciplinary character and possibilities of F&ES, especially in terms of bridging the social and natural sciences, with the disciplinary identity and strengths of the Anthropology Department; (2) combine the strengths in ecological and environmental studies of F&ES with the social science strengths of the Anthropology Department; and (3) combine the emphasis within F&ES on linking theory with policy and practice with the Anthropology Department’s strengths in theory.  Graduates of this program can apply for teaching positions as anthropologists and/or environmental scientists, and they have the credentials to apply for policy-oriented positions with international institutions as well as academic positions in teaching and research. See F&ES doctoral program page for further details.

Course Descriptions

View Professor Dove’s current courses.

F&ES 520a/ANTH 581a, Society and Environment: Introduction to Theory and Method. 3 credits. This is an introductory, graduate core course on the scope of social scientific contributions to environmental and natural resource issues. Section I presents an overview of the field and course. Section II deals with the way that environmental problems are initially framed. Case studies focus on placing problems in their wider political context, new approaches to uncertainty and failure, and the importance of how the analytical boundaries to resource systems are drawn. Section III focuses on questions of method, including the dynamics of working within development projects, and the art of rapid appraisal and short-term consultancies. Section IV is concerned with local peoples and the environment, with case studies addressing myths of tropical forest use and abuse, development discourse, and the question of indigenous peoples and knowledge.  This is a foundations course for the M.E.M. curriculum, a core course in the curriculum for the joint F&ES/Anthropology doctoral program, and a prerequisite for F&ES 869b/ANTH 572b. Three-hour lecture/seminar. Michael R. Dove.

F&ES 869b/ANTH 572b, Disaster, Degradation, Dystopia: Social Science Approaches to Environmental Perturbation and Change. 3 credits. This is an advanced seminar on the long tradition of social science scholarship on environmental perturbation and natural disasters, the relevance of which has been heightened by the current global attention to climate change. The course is divided into three main sections. The first consists of central questions and debates in the field: social dimensions of natural disasters; the discursive dimensions of environmental degradation, focusing on deforestation; and the current debate about the relationship between resource wealth and political conflict, focusing on the “green war” thesis. The second section focuses on anthropological and interdisciplinary approaches to climate change and related topics, encompassing canonical anthropological work on flood and drought; cyclones, El Niño, and interannual cycles; ethno-ecology; and risk. Additional lectures focus on interdisciplinary work. The final section of the course consists of the classroom presentation of work by the students and Teaching Fellow. Prerequisite: F&ES 520a or F&ES 882b. Three-hour lecture/seminar. Enrollment limited to twenty. Michael R. Dove.

F&ES 384a/ANTH 382a/EVST 345a, Environmental Anthropology: From Historic Origins to Current Debates. This is an upper-division undergraduate seminar on the history of the anthropological study of the environment. It is organized around a number of key, persisting themes in the field, including the nature-culture dichotomy, ecology and social organization, methodological debates, the politics of the environment, and knowledge of the environment. Each theme is examined through writings that are theoretically important but also readable, interesting, and relevant. Readings are grouped to stimulate critical thinking and in-depth discussion about anthropology and the environment. The core text for the course is “Environmental Anthropology” (Dove and Carpenter, eds., 2007, Wiley-Blackwell), written especially for this course. No prerequisites. Two-hour lecture/seminar. Michael R. Dove/Carol Carpenter (alternate years).

F&ES D0055 Social Ecology Doctoral Lab. 1 credit/pass-fail. A bi-weekly seminar for Dove doctoral advisees in F&ES, Anthropology, the combined F&ES/Anthropology program, and other Yale departments. It consists of the presentation and discussion of dissertation prospectuses and proposals, dissertation chapters, and related publications; as well as general discussion of such topics as grantsmanship, data analysis, writing and publishing, and the job search. Two-hour seminar. Michael R. Dove.