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Fall 2023

"Energy" is a complex category with a deep and complex history, including fuels and technologies, uses and values, choices and implications. How did people of the past think about light, heat, transportation, forces of production? What kind of work produced cordwood, kerosene, coal, copper wire? When does this look like a national story, and when a tale of private "enterprise"? Does a long history of energy help us situate questions of our own times? Focusing on the US from the late 18th Century to the early 21st, we will explore themes such as "nature" and "resources"; options, choices, and whose choices; geographies of transmission; commodification, cost and whose cost; networks of use, purpose, and power.

Prof. Lerman, 4 credits, MWF 10-10:50 a.m.

-Fulfills Social Sciences distribution and Environmental Studies requirements.

-History major: modern history; Cultures & Ideas; Social Justice

Spring 2024

This course explores how Europeans interacted with and thought about the natural world between the end of the Roman Empire and the beginning of the Industrial Age. We will trace this interaction from the early medieval migration period through the changing demographic patterns of the central and later Middle Ages, and conclude with the industrialization of the late eighteenth century. Archaeological evidence, along with primary and secondary sources will allow us to discuss climactic shifts, the active changes humans made to the landscape (such as reclamation and deforestation), and changing cultural attitudes toward nature. We will continually consider how this history can inform contemporary debates about the environment and its degradation. May be taken for credit toward the social sciences foundation of the Environmental Studies major.

Prof. Cotts, 4 credits, TTh 10-11:20 a.m.

-Fulfills Social Sciences distribution and Environmental Studies requirements.

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

Environmental history asks four main questions: what was the environment like in the past, how did it affect people, how did people affect it, and what did people think about it? This course will consider the answers to these questions by introducing major themes in environmental history. We will be looking at the ways that various landscapes around the world have shaped human history, and also how people have shaped these landscapes to better suit their needs and desires. Topics include the history and impact of agriculture, fire regimes, water use, urbanization, population growth, pollution, and energy regimes. We will also discuss the importance of changing perspectives of the terrestrial environment and the rise of environmentalism. Class will be conducted in a combined lecture/discussion format.

Prof. Arch, 4 credits, MWF 10-10:50 a.m.

-Fulfills Social Sciences distribution and Environmental Studies requirements.

-History major: Cultures & Ideas; Before Modernity

Many people think that history has to be focused on humans. Furthermore, the modern era can seem like a period of minimal cohabitation with animals. But many of the dramatic changes in the nineteenth-century world in the transition to modernity were irrevocably linked to the ways that humans interacted with, used, and thought about other animals. By investigating human history around the globe with an eye to the nonhuman actors within it, you will learn more about the different ways that humans relate to other animals and the importance of other living beings in human lives in Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa. This course considers the factors that shaped some of the most important trends in modern history, including: more extensive and faster transportation networks, modern urban design, scientific research, how nature is used as a resource, and the global increase in mass extinctions and invasive species. Class will be discussion-based, including in-class debates and a presentation of your final research paper. May be elected as Environmental Studies 307, but must be elected as Environmental Studies 307 to satisfy the interdisciplinary course requirement in environmental studies.

Prof. Arch, 4 credits, MW 1-2:20 p.m.

-Fulfills Social Sciences distribution and Environmental Studies requirements.

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

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