Nov 30, 2023  
2017-2018 Undergraduate Catalog 
2017-2018 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Human Dimensions of Climate Change

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Minimum number of credits required to graduate: 120

Minimum Cumulative GPA required to graduate: 2.0

Minimum Grade requirements for courses to count toward major: ANT 101, ANT 102, and ANT 225 must be completed with minimum grade of C- or better. Capstone experience (ANT 410 or ANT 497) must be completed with a minimum grade of C or better.
Other GPA requirements to graduate: A minimum accumulative GPA of 2.0 in the major.

Required Courses for fulfilling Capstone Experience: ANT 410 or ANT 497

Contact Information: Gregory Zaro, Chair of Anthropology, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Climate Change, 5773 S. Stevens Hall, Room 242 (207) 581-1857, Fax: (207) 581-1823,

Climate Change is one of the leading environmental and human problems facing the world today. Melting glaciers and rising oceans with landward-moving shorelines are one side of the issue, and shifting temperature and moisture patterns and the responses of earth’s biota to these changes add to the dilemma. The other side of the problem is the human dimension, both with regards to impact and response. Humans contribute to global warming and environmental degradation, and humans alone can provide solutions to these problems through successful policy initiatives at local through global scales. Solutions to the many problems arising from climate change will only be found with an understanding of the processes that govern both climate and human culture. Successful policy decisions to mitigate climate change will be based on solid science and social science related to culture. Social scientists have an extremely important role to play in assisting state, national, and world decision makers in understanding environmental problems and finding solutions to them. Social scientists work with policy makers, conduct research among local populations around the world, and on the basis of this work devise policies that take into account the social and cultural implications of policy decisions from local to international scales.

With core faculty situated in the Anthropology Department, this degree program addresses these important dimensions of climate change. Anthropologists draw their data from all known human societies. Social anthropologists conduct extended periods of fieldwork in communities around the world; physical anthropologists and archaeologists reconstruct those of the past. As a result of this work, anthropologists have built up robust models and explanations of similarity and variance across cultures. They are unusually well equipped to investigate and understand responses to climate change by people whose cultural backgrounds may be radically different from those of the western world. They have a detailed knowledge of how environment and climate shapes cultures, and of how cultures shape their environments. They are also able to devise policies that take cultural differences into account in devising and managing climatic solutions.

Special Resources and Programs

Core faculty members of this program are affiliated with the Anthropology Department and engage in research focused on the human dimensions of environmental issues. Some are also members of the Climate Change Institute or work on climate change research. These faculty are directly involved in teaching the program’s courses, advising students, participating in research projects, and providing guest lectures as needed.

Departmental Notes:

Related Graduate Programs

The Department of Anthropology cooperates with the Climate Change Institute to train graduate students in prehistoric archeology towards an MS degree in Quaternary and Climate Studies. Application is made through the Graduate School.

The PhD program in Anthropology and Environmental Policy centers on understanding human society and culture in cross-cultural perspective and their pivotal role in implementing successful environmental policy. The program engages students in a multi-disciplinary framework bridging environmental sciences and policy while focusing on the sociocultural impacts of, and responses to, local and global environmental change. Application is made through the Graduate School.

Student Outcomes and Career Opportunities

The program engages students in the human dimension issues of one of the most important scientific and cultural challenges facing the world today. These engaged students are able to understand the diverse human causes and impacts of climate change to better enact successful policy decisions at local, national, and international levels. The program provides students with skills useful outside as well as within the academic environment. Specific skill sets are both quantitative and qualitative and focus on ethnographic methods and analysis such as participant observation, directed interviewing, and statistical analysis of qualitative and quantitative ethnographic data. Graduates of this program will seek positions in private business as well as in state, national, and international institutions that deal with policy decisions related to the human dimensions of climate management and change.

The Bachelor of Arts in Human Dimensions of Climate Change (HDCC)

Students may declare an HDCC major in their first year, and must declare their major once they have accumulated 53 credits. It is desirable to begin taking HDCC courses in the first semester at the university.

First year students are advised to take ANT 101 (fall semester) and ANT 102 (spring semester), as these are both required for the major and are prerequisites for many upper division courses. First year students also concentrate on completing General Education requirements.

ANT 225 and 410 are both major requirements. ANT 225 should be completed early in the degree program, whereas ANT 410 is an advanced seminar and will be restricted to the junior or senior year. The capstone experience can be completed with either ANT 410 (capstone course) or ANT 497 (independent research), taken in the junior or senior year.

The requirements listed on this page are specific to this particular major. Students are also responsible for meeting any graduation requirements set out by their college. Students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) should make sure to review those requirements as stated on the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences  page of the catalog.

Required Courses

A minimum of 45 credits is required. ANT 101, 102, and 225 must be completed with a minimum grade of C- or better. ANT 410 (or ANT 497) must be completed with a minimum grade of C or better.

Physical Science Courses

Required Physical Science Courses

Choose Earth Science (Option A) or Marine Science (Option B) Track


Required Courses

plus one of the following


Required Courses

Capstone Experience

Choose one of the following courses, with minimum grade of C


  • ANT 225, ANT 410 (the capstone experience), and 15 other degree program credits must be taken at UMaine.
  • Students writing an honors thesis related to the human dimensions of climate change do not have to take the capstone course: ANT 410 or ANT 497 Independent Study
  • Students choosing the Earth Science Track will need to have completed ERS 121 or any other 100-level ERS course before they enter ERS 369.
  • Students choosing the Marine Science Track will need to have completed two of the three required physical science courses along with SMS 100 before they enter SMS 402.
  • Advanced study in the human dimension of climate change often requires use of quantitative methods, foreign language competency, and some theoretical sophistication. Consequently, students planning to pursue graduate work in a related field of study should take a course in statistics, such as ANT 462 (Numerical Methods in Anthropology), and achieve relevant foreign language competency at the intermediate level.
  • Minors in the social or environmental sciences are appropriate for this major. These are included under the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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