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; Chair Council on Southeast Asian Studies

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 organize separate research labs for my doctoral students from F&ES and other Yale departments and for all joint F&ES/Anthropology doctoral students, and for my F&ES Master’s students.

Joint Doctoral Degree
I co-coordinate with my counterpart in Yale’s Department of Anthropology a combined doctoral degree between F&ES and 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.  This is an introductory 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 communities, resources, and (under)development, with case studies addressing issues of representing the poor, development discourse, and the question of indigenous peoples and knowledge. This  is a foundation course for the MEM 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 perception, perturbation, and disaster, the relevance of which has been heightened by the current global attention to climate change. The contents evolve from year to year in keeping with current scholarship.  Section I introduces the course.  Section II addresses central questions and debates in the field: social dimensions of natural disasters; the historic evolution of anthropological thinking about climate and society; discursive dimensions of environmental degradation; and asymmetries between political power and resource wealth. Section III take a historic and comparative view of different ways of understanding the environment: first examining a ½ millennium tradition of natural history, and then the 21st century development of a post-humanist, multi-species ethnography.  Section IV consists of the classroom presentation of work by the students and teaching fellow.  Prerequisite: F&ES 520a/ANTH 581a, F&ES 838a/ANTH 517a, or F&ES 839a/ANTH 597a. Three-hour lecture/seminar. Enrollment is capped. Michael R. Dove
EVST 422A/ANTH 409a/F&ES 422a Climate and Society 3 credits. This is a seminar on the history of scholarly thinking on the relationship between climate and society, focusing on the social sciences in general and anthropology in particular. Its premise is that contemporary debates about climate change cannot be fully comprehended without knowledge of theorizing regarding climate and society that is as ancient as human civilization itself.  Weekly readings pair historic with contemporary studies, and special attention is paid to current debates regarding climate politics and science denial.  Section I introduces the course; Section II presents intellectual continuities from the classical, Medieval, and Enlightenment eras up to the present; Section III focuses on the question, When climate changes, does society follow suit?; Section IV unpacks the idea of societies as the unit of climatic impact or response; and Section V looks at climate knowledge and its circulation.  The main text is The Anthropology of Climate Change (Dove, ed., 2014, Wiley-Blackwell), written especially for this course.  No prerequisites. Although designed for undergraduates, graduate students are welcome with the instructor’s permission.  Two-hour lecture/seminar. Taught in alternate years. Michael R. Dove
F&ES 384a/ANTH 382a/EVST 345a, Environmental Anthropology: From Historic Origins to Current Debates 3 credits. This is a seminar on the history of the anthropological study of the environment.  Weekly readings pair historic with contemporary studies, and special attention is paid to current debates regarding human environmental relations.  Section I introduces the course; Section II is on the nature-culture dichotomy (questioning the dichotomy, the cultural-materialist tradition); Section III on ecology and social organization (early essays by Mauss and Steward, beyond Steward, “natural” disasters); Section IV on methodological debates (defense of swidden, natural science models, the bounded and balanced community); Section V on the politics of the environment (indigeneity, campaigns, and collaborations); and Section VI on knowing the environment (sense of place, limits of knowledge). The main text for the course is Environmental Anthropology (Dove and Carpenter, eds., 2007, Wiley-Blackwell), written especially for this course.  No prerequisites. Although designed for undergraduates, graduate students are welcome with the instructor’s permission.  Two-hour lecture/seminar.  Carol Carpenter/Michael R. Dove (alternate years).
F&ES D0055 Social Ecology Doctoral Lab. 1 credit/pass-fail. A bi-weekly seminar for Dove doctoral advisees and students in the combined F&ES/Anthropology program. It consists of the presentation and discussion of dissertation prospectuses and proposals, dissertation chapters, and related publications; collaborative writing and publishing projects on subjects of common interest; and discussion of such topics as grantsmanship, data analysis, writing and publishing, and the job search. Two-hour seminar. Michael R. Dove.