HIST364: Environmental History

Course Syllabus for "HIST364: Environmental History"

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This course will focus on the history of humankind’s relationship with the environment.  We use the word “environment” to refer to the nonhuman components of the natural world.  We will examine how environmental factors have shaped the development and growth of civilizations around the world and analyze how these civilizations have altered their environments in positive and negative ways.  The course will be structured chronologically.  Each unit will include representative primary-source documents that illustrate important overarching themes, such as how early humans adapted natural resources for new purposes, how the expansion of civilizations led to environmental changes, how the interaction between European explorers and Native Americans led to significant and unexpected environmental consequences, and how modern societies have responded to environmental problems that threaten the well-being of humans and the environment.  By the end of the course, you will better understand the reciprocal relationship between human beings and the environment and how this relationship has evolved throughout human history. Notes: - Most audio resources have alternative written transcripts (except for YouTube resources that are not close-captioned for the hearing impaired). - Typescript pagination is different from published work.  A typescript will be 1/3 to 1/2 longer than the same document will be when published.  Please take this into account when noting page lengths of assignments.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Define environmental history, and identify the relationship of environmental history with other disciplines and sub-disciplines.
  • Think critically about the historical relationship between humans and the environment.
  • Identify how early humans modified and adapted natural resources for agricultural and commercial purposes.
  • Analyze how human settlements altered the environment, and evaluate how environmental factors shaped the growth of early civilizations.
  • Evaluate how new agricultural and commercial practices altered the environment across the globe during the Middle Ages.
  • Evaluate how the Columbian Exchange resulted in significant ecological and biological changes in Europe and the Americas and dramatically altered human societies on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Identify how environmental factors, such as disease and pollution, shaped political and social life across the globe in various historical times.
  • Analyze the impact of industrialization on human society during the Modern Era, and evaluate how governmental and nongovernmental actors have attempted to ameliorate the negative environmental consequences of industrialization.
  • Explain how technology and urbanization mediated interactions between humans and the environment historically and contemporarily. 
  • Identify current environmental challenges facing humanity, and analyze these challenges from a historical perspective.
  • Explain how environmental consequences have been born unequally by different segments of society, such as classes, ethnicities, and races.
  • Analyze and interpret primary and secondary source documents relating to environmental history using historical research methods.

Course Requirements

In order to take this course, you must:

√    Have a computer.

√    Have access to continuous broadband Internet access.

√    Have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g. Adobe Reader or Flash).

√    Have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer.

√    Have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.).

√    Be competent in the English language.

√    Have downloaded and installed the iTunes application.

√    Have completed all courses in the Core Program of the History Discipline: HIST101, HIST102, HIST103, and HIST104.

Course Information

Welcome to HIST364.  Below, please find some general information on the course and its requirements.

Primary Resources: This course is comprised of a range of different free, online materials.  However, the course makes primary use of the following materials:

Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course, you will need to work through each unit and all of its assigned materials.  Pay special attention to Units 1 and 2, as these lay the groundwork for understanding the more advanced, exploratory material presented in the latter units.  You will also need to complete the Final Exam.

Note that you will only receive an official grade on your Final Exam.  However, in order to adequately prepare for this exam, you will need to work through the quizzes and problem sets listed above.

In order to “pass” this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the Final Exam.  Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it.  If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again.

Time Commitment: This course should take you a total of 153 hours to complete.  Each unit includes a “time advisory” that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit.  These should help you plan your time accordingly.  It may be useful to take a look at these time advisories and to determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit, and then to set goals for yourself.  For example, Unit 1 should take approximately 20.5 hours to complete.  Perhaps you can sit down with your calendar and decide to complete sub-subunits 1.1.1 and 1.1.2 (a total of 4.25 hours) on Monday; sub-subunits 1.1.3 through 1.1.5 and subunit 1.2 (a total of 5 hours) on Tuesday; etc.

Table of Contents: You can find the course's units at the links below.