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Department of Anthropology

Sarah Strauss
Adjunct Professor
Cultural Anthropology

A.B. 1984, Dartmouth College
M.P.H. 1987, San Jose State University
Ph.D. 1997, University of Pennsylvania

Sarah Strauss was born and raised on the east coast. During high school and college, she was deeply involved in biomedical research, and expected her career path to lie in this direction. She enjoyed the philosophical traditions, though, and so although she worked in molecular biology laboratories, she also majored in comparative religion. During her final year in college, she discovered medical anthropology, and that changed everything. A career in anthropology would allow her to pursue all of her research interests, from health and human biology to myth and religion. After graduating, she moved to the west coast, and worked as a marketing director for a small software company in Silicon Valley.

Strauss first obtained a Master's degree in Public Health, to learn more about health-related aspects of human interaction with the environment, and later a Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology. Her dissertation focused on aspects of culture change through transnational flows of ideas, products, and practices related to yoga in India and around the world. One of Dr. Strauss's ongoing research goals is to understand how different cultures define what it means to be healthy and to live a "good life."

Since moving to Laramie in 1995, Strauss's research has branched out from herbal medicine use in Laramie to an NSF-funded study of the "social life of water" in the Swiss Alpine village of Leukerbad. The water project, which began with a focus on the qualities of water resources in relation to their use-value to the community for medicinal, recreational, and other economic purposes, quickly developed a component addressing climate change impacts on water resources, as this became an inescapable part of the research landscape by the early years of the 21st century. Since her sabbatical in 2005-6, Strauss has been working increasingly on climate change and sustainability issues, expanding her study of perception and behavior related to understandings of environmental hazards and risks. This "new" direction ties back into her original interests in health and the experiences of the "good life" in a variety of ways, including how we produce, manage, and consume food, energy, and water resources. In 2012-13, Strauss was in India on a Fulbright fellowship, this time looking at climate change and renewable energy transitions.

Strauss enjoys riding her horse Jax, a Haflinger she competes with in dressage and eventing; playing and listening to Celtic music; hiking, rockclimbing, and skiing in the beautiful mountains and foothills around Laramie; and just hanging out with her husband (Carrick), kids (Rory, 18, and Lia, 13), border collie Calin, and Frodo the parrot.


Courses Taught:

ANTH 4350/5350  Medical Anthropology

ANTH 4310/5310  Environmental Anthropology

ANTH 4340/5340  Culture Change

ANTH 3300  Ethnographic Methods

ANTH 2200  World Cultures

ANTH 5390  Field Methods in Cultural Anthropology

ANTH 3420  Anthropology of Global Issues

ANTH 4020  Seminar: Environment, Health, and Culture

ANTH 4020  Seminar: The Anthropologies of Water,Climate, & Energy


Recent/ Selected Publications

Strauss, S., Rupp, S., and T. Love (eds.) (2013) Cultures of Energy: Power, Practices, Technologies. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.

Strauss, S.  (2012) Are Cultures Endangered by Climate Change? Yes, but...WIREs Climate Change 2012. doi: 10.1002/wcc.181.

Strauss, S. (2008) Global Models, Local Risks: Responding to Climate Change in the Swiss Alps. In Anthropology and Climate Change: From Encounters to Actions, Eds. Susie Crate and Mark Nuttall. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.

Strauss, S., (2007) An Ill Wind: Foehn and Health in Leukerbad and Beyond. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. Special Issue on Wind, Life, and Health. (N.S.) 13(s1):163-178. pdf

Strauss, S. Positioning Yoga. (2004) Oxford: Berg Publishers, Ltd.

Strauss, S. and B.S. Orlove, Eds. (2003) Weather, Climate, and Culture. Oxford: Berg Publishers, Ltd.


Research Interests:

Energy, Global environmental change, Water and weather: risks, perceptions, and societal impacts, Cultural conceptions of health and illness, Transnational cultural processes and practices, Mountain regions (Alps/Himalaya/Rockies), India.

Sarah Strauss
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Anthropology Department

12th and Lewis Streets

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: (307) 766-5136


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