How to Use This Syllabus

Research on the Anthropocene has proliferated over the last decade. More and more fields have adopted the Anthropocene as a legitimate area of study. And, with this widespread interest has come a flood of publications, art installations, research projects, and media coverage. For beginners and experts alike, getting a handle on all the work being done on the Anthropocene can feel like drinking water from a fire hose.

This syllabus provides learners an entry point into some of the big concepts and debates that dominate discussions over the Anthropocene. It is not comprehensive (this is, after all, An Anthropocene Primer, not The Anthropcocene Primer). However, after completing the modules, you will find it much easier to deal with that firehose of information. As you come across new work on the Anthropocene, you will be able to give it context. And terms and concepts that once felt unfamiliar and strange will have meaning.

One of the nice things about this syllabus is that it can be used and re-used. If you are novice, work through only the Beginner questions and readings in each module. Then, if you want, work through the Intermediate, and then the Advanced sections. To make this easier, we have color coded the sections: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced.

While you might find it useful to work through the modules in order, there is no need to do so. Each module is self contained.

The readings and videos in each section follow a standard format. In addition to being broken down into Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced levels, they are subdivided into NARRATIVES, THEORIES, and APPLICATIONS.

  • The NARRATIVES readings and questions focus on telling a story about the Anthropocene.
  • The THEORIES sections concentrate on concepts and abstractions, and they often concern debates over meaning and interpretation.
  • The APPLICATIONS sections give examples of how people are responding to the challenges posed by the Anthropocene.

You can dip in to modules as it suits you. We have designed the syllabus to be flexible and to serve a wide variety of users and needs. Each syllabus stands as a topic specific bibliography. At the end of An Anthropocene Primer, there are additional thematic bibliographies for additional reading.

We have selected, for the most part, readings and videos for the syllabus that are open access. This limits what we have been able to include in the primer. We have attempted to select materials that represent a broad range of expertise, experience, and subject matter.  As more items become open access, we are committed to expanding the range of materials included in this primer.