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

Environment and History (HIST*2250)

Code and section: HIST*2250*DE

Term: Winter 2021

Instructor: Susan Nance


Method of Delivery:

Online: this course is offered in distance education format. There are no synchronous meetings.

Course Description

An introduction to the field of environmental history - its nature and uses. This course provides a historical perspective to environmental issues. It examines the causes and impact of human-induced modification of the natural world in selected areas of the globe, the evolution of attitudes and ideas about the natural world over time and the growth of conservation/environmental issues and movements. 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, nonhuman 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.


2.00 credits





Course Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  1. Describe a broad view of North American environmental history;
  2. Explain thematic interpretations of that history by way of various concepts andthe tension between them, including: anthropocene, agency, power, nature andwilderness, progress and improvement, agrarian myth, pollution, exponentialgrowth theory, environmental justice, and eco-terrorism;
  3. Communicate research findings and syntheses of assigned reading to peers;
  4. Write short pieces on topics relevant to you;
  5. Conduct secondary and primary source research using online archives andlibraries;
  6. Explain the power and limits of human agency with respect to the environmentand the forces of nature;
  7. Explain changes over time with respect to human interaction with the planet, aswell as the human perceptions of and depictions of that interaction; and
  8. Observe and analyze contemporary events and questions about humaninteraction with the planet and nonhuman species.

Method of Evaluation & Weights:

Week 1 Introduction & Webquest - 5%
Online Discussions (2) - 30%
Short Essay - 20%
Primary Source Presentation - 15%
Final Exam (Take-home) - 30%

Texts Required:

Title: Down to Earth: Nature's Role in American History, 4th ed. 
Author: Ted Steinberg 
Edition / Year: 2018 
Publisher: Oxford University Press 
ISBN: 978-0190864422

Title: Canadians and the Natural Environment to the Twenty-First Century 
Author: Neil Forkey 
Edition / Year: 2012 
Publisher: University of Toronto Press 
ISBN: 978-0802048967

Title: As Long as the Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock. 
Author: Dina Gilio-Whitaker 
Edition / Year: 2020 
Publisher: Beacon Press 
ISBN: 978-0807028360

*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.