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Nature, Resources, and the Human Condition: Perspectives on Environmental History

Semester and Year FA 2016
Course Number IDSEM-UG1602
Section 001
Instructor Gene Cittadino
Days MW
Time 3:30 PM - 4:45 PM
Units 4
Level U
Foundation Requirement   SCI


Section 2 for Environmental Studies majors only.


This course is an introduction to global environmental history through an examination of selected episodes and themes, with emphasis on the nature and role of resources, on the one hand, and cultural conceptions of the natural world, on the other. The course asks the general question, “What light can the life and earth sciences shed on human history?” while also drawing upon the perspectives of social, cultural, and political history, anthropology, economic theory, and the history of technology. Humans have been shaped by their environments over the course of their history, and they have obviously altered their environments, often drastically so. The purpose of the course is neither to document environmental gloom and doom nor to cast particular peoples or practices as good or evil on the basis of currently acceptable standards of sewardship or sustainability. Rather it is to understand the role that the natural environment has played in human history and the roles that perceptions of nature have played in shaping human institutions and practices, even as we humans have altered and shaped “natural” environments. Readings will include original works from different periods, broad historical narratives, case studies, accessible scientific works, and possible works of fiction.



Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)