HIST 106 (3 cr): Global Environmental History

History 106

Course Description

Think globally and act locally has been a staple of environmentalism since the early 1970s. What does it mean to think globally, and historically, about the environment? How have the historical processes of global environmental change affected people, animals, landscapes, and the biosphere? How have people conceptualized nature? We will focus on themes related to the climate, food, energy, ideologies, and cities.

Through readings, writing, research, and online group discussion, we will examine the connections of global and local environments. Readings will include historical responses to environmental change from all corners of the globe. In addition to weekly modules, we will be examining the overall process of global environmental change through J.R. McNeill’s book, Something New Under the Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth-Century World (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2000), available in both print and ebook editions.

Course Objectives

By the end of this course, students will:

  • have increased their knowledge of global environmental history in the modern era
  • have learned to critically analyze historical sources
  • have acquired a conceptual toolkit to help them think critically about contemporary and historical environmental issues
  • have learned to develop historical arguments and to think historically
  • have improved their reading, writing, and critical thinking skills
  • have developed collaborative working relationships with other students in the class

Course Structure

Unit I: Global Changes

  • Module 1. Introduction
  • Module 2. Earth Forces
  • Module 3. Environmental Change
  • Module 4. Environmental Activism

Unit II: What We Need

  • Module 5. Food
  • Module 6. Energy

Unit III: Humans in Nature

  • Module 7. Animal Worlds
  • Module 8. Deeper Natures

Unit IV: Humans in Cities

  • Module 9. Cities I: The Urban Shift
  • Module 10. Cities II: Sustainability

Course Work

Students will complete four written assignments: (1) a primary source analysis, as well as (2) a short preliminary research paper outline and (3) a historical analysis related to the completion of (4) a final research paper. They will also participate in group discussions each week. The final exam will be online.

Evaluation

Primary Source Analysis, 500-750 words (15%)
Research Paper Outline, max 250 words (5%)
Secondary Source Analysis, 750-1,000 words (15%)
Final Research Paper, 1,250-1,500 words (25%)
8 Task-Oriented Group Discussions (20%)
Online, Open-Book Final Exam (20%)

Textbook

Something New Under the Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth-Century World (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2000), available in both print and e-book editions.

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