History 304

HIST 304
Environmental History (A, B, C)

1. Catalog Entry

HIST 304
Environmental History (A, B, C)

Credit hours (3)

This course explores the history of the world through the lens of environmental history. Students will learn the basic methodologies of environmental history and then put these approaches to work investigating how a focus on the physical environment can help us understand the major historical processes of human history. This course deals with physical and social environments around the world, including the United States.

2. Detailed Description of Course

This course will ask students to consider a number of questions designed to help them understand the role that the environment and/or natural world has played in processes of human history and vice-versa. To that end, we will ask (as examples): How does our new understanding of environmental history (and historical geography) change our view of the way that history has unfolded throughout the world? Does a focus on the physical environment produce a different history of, say, colonial expansion in the modern period than if we focused on economic or political events? What was “revolutionary” about the industrial revolution and what are its ongoing legacies? How did the relationship between the exploitation of natural resources and climatic events contribute to famine, disaster, and the “making of the third world”? How has the need to shape the environment to the needs of societies changed the physical world, and to what effect? Moving both thematically and chronologically, the course will expand student understanding of the role played by the environment in the development of human societies and how those societies have shaped the environment to their ends.

3. Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

The course will consist of a combination of lectures and discussions, some of which will be student-led. Students may be asked to give formal presentations on select topics.

4. Goals and Objectives of the Course

    1) Students will practice thinking critically and analytically about historical issues, acquire a broader knowledge and deeper
        understanding of pertinent historical events and processes, and cultivate a familiarity with the concepts of historical argument
        and interpretation.
    2) Students will develop disciplinary research skills by designing strategies to locate and analyze primary and secondary source
        evidence, processing and organizing the resultant data, and composing proper citation and bibliographical entries.
    3) Students will apply their critical thinking, research, and compositional skills to the creation and presentation of thesis driven essays
        that discuss, for example, historical social, economic, political, and/or cultural developments and that address issues such as the
        causes and consequences of historical change and continuity.

5. Assessment Measures

Course assessment will consist of tests and paper assignments, some of which may require significant student research.

6. Other Course Information

None

Review and Approval

June 20, 2015