Fall 2022


History 155: Animal, Vegetable, & Mineral

This course will focus on the ways in which the search for and use of natural resources has profoundly affected human history. We will examine the work of environmental historians along with primary sources relating to the history of conflicts over access to resources, resource extraction and transportation, and the resulting pollution (organic, chemical, and radioactive). Using these sources, we will discuss how historians ask and answer questions about the ways that resource availability has shaped human societies and cultures worldwide, as well as how particular societies have had dramatic impacts on the distributions of water, forests and other ecosystems, minerals, and plant and animal populations. While there will be some brief lectures, this course is primarily focused on reading, writing, and discussion. Assignments include analysis of primary sources, short papers, and a final paper project with presentation to the class. This course may be applied to the social sciences area foundation requirement for Environmental Studies majors.

Prof. Arch, 4 credits, MW 1:00-2:20pm

-Fulfills Social Science distribution and Environmental Studies requirements.

-History major: modern history; Cultures & Ideas; Empires & Colonialism; Revolution, War, & Politics


History 262: People/Nature/Technology

This class explores human interactions with the environments they inhabit, asking a set of interrelated questions in a range of historical contexts: How have physical environments influenced human choices? How have human choices, assumptions, and cultural practices shaped physical environments? How have people at different places and times understood "nature" and their relationship to it? When do they see "nature" and when "natural resources" and when "technology"? What modes of control of the world around them have they found acceptable or problematic, why, and who should make the choices? The "people" we will attend to inhabit a continent of indigenous nations, colonizing settlers and imperial dreamers, forced migrants and voluntary ones, and (eventually) the full range of citizens primarily of the United States. We will interrogate vocabularies, such as: land, landscape, backcountry, rural, urban, wilderness, park, industrial park... and we will inevitably need to problematize the categories: how do we conceive of the slashes between people/nature/technology, and how does our historical vocabulary shape the questions we ask? This course will make use of primary and secondary sources, and will emphasize reading, writing, and discussion as well as lecture.

Prof. Lerman, 4 credits, TTh 10:00-11:20am

-Fulfills Social Science distribution and Environmental Studies requirements.

-History major: modern history; Cultures & Ideas; Empires & Colonialism


Spring 2023


History 231: Oceans Past & Future -- Intro to Marine Environmental History


Even though oceans cover approximately 70% of the earth's surface, environmental historians have focused most strongly on the terrestrial environment. The maritime environment influences human life in many ways, from regulating the global climate to changing or eroding the land we live on; from offering connections between far-flung areas to providing a source of food and entertainment. By examining the history of the marine environment, and the political, economic, and cultural influence of the sea, we can better understand environmental problems covering the entire globe. The course is a mixture of discussion and lecture.

Prof. Arch, 4 credits, TTh 11:30am-12:50pm

-Fulfills Social Science distribution and Environmental Studies requirements.

-History major: Cultures & Ideas; Social Justice; Before Modernity


History 355: Pacific Whaling History


From aboriginal shore-based hunts to modern factory ship whaling, the pursuit of whales has drawn people together and set them at odds with each other, particularly since the rise of the environmental movement. This seminar will look at the history of whaling throughout the Pacific Basin, from the west coast of the Americas to Japan and Australia, and all the waters in between. Using a mixture of primary and secondary sources, we will consider in particular the environmental impact of whaling in different areas of the Pacific, as well as the role of environmentalism in changing attitudes towards whaling in the twentieth century. This course is discussion-based, with paper and presentation assignments.

Prof. Arch, 4 credits, TTh 1:00-2:20pm

-Fulfills Social Science distribution and Environmental Studies requirements.

-History major: Cultures & Ideas; Empires & Colonialism