CCOG for ATH 214 Summer 2024

Course Number:
ATH 214
Course Title:
Environment, Animals, and Culture
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:

Course Description

Explores contemporary and historical examples of animal symbolism, food taboos, and issues around the ethical treatment of animals or other kinds of human-animal interactions from an anthropological perspective. Introduces ecological anthropology and the sub-field of cultural ecology. Examines systems of power and social justice issues related to sustainability and the equitable use of resources from a cross-cultural perspective. Prerequisites: WR 115, RD 115 and MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

The course examines the relationship between animals humans and their environment. Topics such as cultural adaptation, sustainability and the equitable use of resources will be considered. Students should read and write at a basic college level.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon completion of the course students should be able to:

  1. Compare values and beliefs related to animal symbolism and food taboos from an anthropological perspective.
  2. Describe how cultural values impact animal and human interactions in different societies.
  3. Discuss systems of power and social justice issues related to colonialism, cultural adaptation, sustainability and the equitable use of resources from an anthropological perspective.
  4.  Discuss basic concepts related to culture, ecology, animal biology and adaptation.

Social Inquiry and Analysis

Students completing an associate degree at Portland Community College will be able to apply methods of inquiry and analysis to examine social contexts and the diversity of human thought and experience.

General education philosophy statement

Philosophy Statement This course complements information covered in introductory anthropology classes and focuses on the interactions of animals, people and the environment. The different ways humans adapt to their environment through culture is examined. Class topics include animal symbolism, food taboos, power structures and social justice issues related to food, sustainability and the equitable distribution of resources. Students taking this course will develop critical thinking and analytical skills by comparing different kinds of human and animal interactions and their impact on the environment. They will also gain experience in intellectual problem solving by analyzing issues related to sustainability and cultural adaptation. Another important aspect of the course is the comparative study of the cultural meaning of animal symbolism and food taboos. Students will examine the origins and functions of food taboos and analyze how traditional knowledge and perspectives about animals and the environment are expressed in ideology, social customs or economic patterns of different cultures. Students will also examine ethical issues related to the treatment or consumption of animal for food and develop more environmental awareness and appreciation for the diversity of human thought and experience.

Aspirational Goals

To apply the knowledge gained in the class to help resolve both enduring and contemporary problems in the world with particular attention to the linkage between animals, humans and the environment.

Course Activities and Design

Course Activities may include any of the following:

  • lectures
  • class exercises
  • presentations
  • demonstrations
  • discussions
  • guest speakers
  • field trips

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Assessment strategies may include any of the following:

  •  class discussions 
  • midterm and final exams 
  •  papers
  • quizzes
  •  small-group exercises
  •  field exercises
  • presentations
  •  student presentations

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Course Content:


  • Animal and human interactions
  • Cultural adaptation to the environment
  • Sustainability


  • Food taboos
  • Animal symbolism
  • Culture
  • Ecosystem
  • Environment
  • Cultural Adaptation
  • Globalization
  • Sustainability


  • colonialism
  • equitable use of resources
  • effect of population growth
  • biocides and pollutants
  • animal experimentation
  • environmental destruction

   Competencies and Skills: 

students should read and write at the college level.