Environment and History (HIST*2250) | College of Arts

Environment and History (HIST*2250)

Code and section: HIST*2250*DE

Term: Fall 2020

Instructor: Susan Nance



This course is offered in distance education format. There are no synchronous meetings.

Course Synopsis:

Using North America as a case study, this course provides an introduction to the field of environmental history, and a historical perspective to human existence in and interaction with the natural world. It examines the ways the physical environment, weather patterns, non-human animals, and plant life have shaped human life, as well as the causes and effects of human-induced modification of the natural world. It also asks students to consider the evolution of attitudes about and depiction of non-human life and the environment, as well as the evolving arguments of conservation/environmental advocates and their opponents over time.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. broad knowledge of North American environmental history
  2. thematic interpretations of that history by way of various concepts and the tension between them, including: anthropocene, human and animal, nature/natural and wild/wilderness, pollution, progress, exponential growth theory, and eco-terrorism vs. environmental justice.
  3. how to communicate research findings and syntheses of assigned reading to peers
  4. the practice of developing one’s writing skills by frequent creation of short pieces of writing on topics relevant to students and on a deadline
  5. how to conduct secondary and primary source research in online archives and libraries

Methods of Evaluation and Weights:

  1. Initial log in & webquest discussion - 5%
  2. Online discussions (2 @ 15% each) - 30%
  3. Short essay - 20%
  4. Digital primary source analysis & online presentation - 15%
  5. Final examination (take-home) - 30%

Texts and/or Resources Required:

  1. Ted Steinberg, Down to Earth: Nature's Role in American History, 4th edition. (Oxford University Press, 2018) ISBN: 9780190864422 – please purchase;
  2. Neil S. Forkey, Canadians and the Natural Environment (Univ. of Toronto Press, 2013).– available on Courselink eReserve;
  3. Dina Gilio-Whitaker, As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, From Colonization to Standing Rock (Boston: Beacon Press, 2020). ISBN 9780807028360 – please purchase;
  4. Plus other articles, films, and digital archives available on Courselink eReserve.

*Please note: This is a preliminary web course description only. The department reserves the right to change without notice any information in this description. The final, binding course outline will be distributed in the first class of the semester.