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 global historical processes like industrialization, urbanization, and the agricultural revolution affected local environments? Local and individual actions have long played out in a global context. We will focus in particular on interrelated developments in climate, agriculture, energy, and cities.

Through readings, writing, research, and discussion, we will examine the connection of global and local environments. Case studies will include historical responses to climate change in Europe and North America, the transformation of indigenous foodways and the urban development of Vancouver. By the end of the course, students will have an understanding of the dynamic and complex place of the environment in world history, of interdisciplinary approaches to historical thinking, and of the ways in which their own lives are embedded in the history we will be exploring.

Course Objectives

  • Gain an understanding of the dynamic and complex place of the environment in world history, of interdisciplinary approaches to historical thinking, and of the ways in which their own lives are embedded in that history.
  • Learn to situate local experience, perception, and causes of environmental change within a global context.  In other words, be able to identify the global forces at play in local concerns, but also the role that local action has in constituting global environmental systems.
  • Learn how global historical processes like industrialization, urbanization, and the agricultural revolution have affected local environments.
  • Learn to apply particular environmental historical concepts to both historical and contemporary environmental issues.  Concepts include environmental determinism/agency, urban metabolism, social construction of nature, social ecology, environmental justice, geographies of risk, and many others.
  • Hone their humanities writing skills through the development of an argument and the use of evidence with proper citations.
  • Improve reading and critical thinking skills while engaging with classmates via online discussions and assignment activities.

Course Structure

Introduction: Earthrise

Unit I: Climate Change

  • Module 1: Introduction to Climate Change
  • Module 2: Climate and Culture
  • Module 3: Climate Change and Crisis

Unit II: Agriculture

  • Module 4: The Rise of Industrial Agriculture
  • Module 5: Post-Industrial Agriculture?

Unit III: Energy

  • Module 6: Energy in World History: An Overview
  • Module 7: The Age of Oil

Unit IV: Cities

  • Module 8: Nature and/of Cities
  • Module 9: Cities and Environmentalism
  • Module 10: Sustainability and the Future of Cities

Course Assessment and Assignments

Assignment 1: Essay on Climate Change and Culture 20%
Assignment 2: The Oil We Eat Blog 10%
Assignment 3: Urban Metabolism Map Included in participation grade
Assignment 4: Final Project 25%
Participation (contribution to online discussion
and 106 wall)
25%
Final Examination 20%

Readings

All readings are available via the course website on Canvas (https://canvas.ubc.ca/).