Skip to Gallatin Navigation Skip to Gallatin Main Content

History of Environmental Sciences Before Darwin

Semester and Year FA 2015
Course Number IDSEM-UG1566
Section 001
Instructor Peder Anker
Days MW
Time 9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
12:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Units 4
Level U
Requirement   SCI, PREMOD, EARLY


Sect 002 for Environmental Studies majors.


This seminar will provide an overview of the history of the environmental sciences from ancient times to Charles Darwin’s  The   Origin of Species . We will explore ways in which naturalists and lay people came to know the environment and in what ways nature could mobilize social and moral author­ity. With a focus on the history of the European environmental problems from the ancient Greeks, Middle Ages, to colonial and Modern experiences, we will survey different ways of knowing nature. Where did the idea of nature as “designed” come from? How did natural historians and philosophers unveil nature’s secrets? What role did scientists play in the colonial experiences? How could Modern scholars imagine “improving” the face of the Earth? These broad questions will guide us in our readings of a series of primary sources, including great and not-so-great books by Hippocrates, Plato, Aristotle, Pliny, St. Francis, Evelyn, Grew, Bacon, Linnaeus, Buffon, Jefferson, Rousseau, Malthus and Darwin, as well as largely forgotten texts by anonymous authors and colonial explorers.


All Syllabi

Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)