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Course Description

Trans Alaska Pipeline with Autumn Colors

An introduction to the field of environmental history - its nature and uses. This course provides a historical perspective to environmental issues. It examines the causes and impact of human-induced modification of the natural world in selected areas of the globe, the evolution of attitudes and ideas about the natural world over time and the growth of conservation/environmental issues and movements.

Note: This course can be taken individually or as a part of a certificate program.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, the learner should be able to:

  1. Describe a broad view of North American environmental history;
  2. Explain thematic interpretations of that history by way of various concepts and the tension between them, including: anthropocene, agency, power, nature and wilderness, progress and improvement, agrarian myth, pollution, exponential growth theory, environmental justice, and eco-terrorism;
  3. Communicate research findings and syntheses of assigned reading to peers;
  4. Write short pieces on topics relevant to you;
  5. Conduct secondary and primary source research using online archives and libraries;
  6. Explain the power and limits of human agency with respect to the environment and the forces of nature;
  7. Explain changes over time with respect to human interaction with the planet, as well as the human perceptions of and depictions of that interaction; and
  8. Observe and analyze contemporary events and questions about human interaction with the planet and nonhuman species.

Course Topics

  • Colonial North America and the Columbian Exchange
  • Planting, Harvesting, and the Market
  • Colonization, Science, and Industrialization
  • Preservation, Conservation, and the West
  • Consumers and “Nature”
  • Dust Bowl: Industrial Agriculture, Capitalism and Hubris
  • The Good Life
  • The Urban Environment
  • Pollution and Environmental Justice
  • Case Study: Katrina

Additional Requirements

Prerequisite(s): 2.00 credits


Assessment Item Weight
Week 1 Webquest & Discussion 5%
Discussions #1 & #2 (2 x 15%) 30%
Primary Source Presentation 15%
Short Essay 20%
Take-Home Final Exam  30%
Total 100%


Applies Towards the Following Certificates

Technical Requirements

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*Course details are subject to change.


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