What is the Anthropocene?

Is it still possible to distinguish human culture from the natural world? Or does this distinction make no sense today?

Have humans become "planetary actors" in the sense that our actions now no longer simply have consequences for the human social world, but also for the bio- and geophysical systems of planet Earth? What are the political and ethical implications of recognizing humans as the cause of global climate change? These are all questions raised in recent discussions of the Anthropocene. This course will approach the Anthropocene as a troubling and contested concept linked with geology, biology, and climate change science, as well as underlying diverse political, ethical, and social assumptions. Students will learn to investigate and speak knowledgably about the relationship between nature and culture, come to understand how this relationship is and always has been changing, and explore the political-ethical implications of these changes.

Zachary Reyna:

Zachary Reyna is a political theorist working in the environmental humanities and cultural study of law. He received his PhD in Political Science from Johns Hopkins University (USA), where his dissertation offered an ecological reading of the natural law tradition that rethought the concept of political obligation for contemporary environmentalist politics. He taught political theory and environmental thought at Johns Hopkins and Towson University, and was the assistant editor of the journal “Political Theory”. He is now professor in political theory at SAS.